Customer service is the most powerful way a company can grow. It’s especially integral for the success of sales and call center agents. Finding the right solution to operate your call center can save you money and streamline your team’s workflow.
One of the fastest and cheapest options is voice over internet protocol or VoIP. You can make calls over the internet, receive inbound calls, and text, all in one easy-to-use interface.
What Is a VoIP?
VoIPs are software that essentially allows you to talk, text message, and video call over the internet. VoIP call options are often called softphones because they are literally software phones you can use virtually on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems. Many business softphones will have a private branch exchange (PBX) system. A PBX refers to a multi-line telephone system.
They can provide more convenience if you’re a remote or hybrid team that doesn’t want to be tied down to a landline. For startups and small teams, VoIP phone service expenses can often cost less than your traditional phone plan.
The main capabilities of a VoIP subscription plan are calling, SMS messaging, and video calling. Some will specifically have conferencing and video conferencing separate from regular calling functions because of higher participant capacities.
Slightly rarer features include auto attendants, voicemail transcription, and real-time analytics. Team collaboration features like group chat are also less common. When it comes to ‘free’ solutions these features will be much harder to find for your business phone system.
For more information, you can see our definition article that explains how a VoIP works and its general benefits here.
What Are The Best Free VoIP Phone Services?
The answer to this is debatable. Most ‘free VoIP’ isn’t really free. The open-source ones (which are free) require developer skills to install and deploy. There is no long list of amazing free VoIP Phone software that any new team can use. Many blogs will pad their lists with VoIP solutions that aren’t really free or aren’t accessible to non-users.
For example to use Skype the person on the other side needs to download Skype to call you. This isn’t ideal for a call center that wants to offer convenience.
The same goes for similar messenger apps like Microsoft Teams and Slack: they require the caller to have the app. There is also Google Voice, which can take outside calls, but it’s only free for personal use. For businesses, it does cost money.
This does not mean that there aren’t any VoIP service providers with affordable software. In general, VoIPs cost less than traditional phone landlines. The per user per month costs is usually between $20 and $60 for most subscription pricing models.
On the upside, there are actually many VoIP phone plans that are under $20 per user a month. You can learn more about these plans in our VoIP for small business article. We also have a general VoIP pricing article as well as a products list of VoIP Providers.
The Problem With Open-Source VoIP Systems
Open-source solutions are the best VoIP choice for teams that have resident webdevs. You could also use a third-party service or freelancer. For many, setup and management of an open-source VoIP might be difficult. If your team is ambitious and tech-savvy you can of course learn how to manage the software.
One of the most attractive aspects of open-source is that there are usually helpful communities and training tutorials available. If you do choose to learn the program yourself there are plenty of resources. The biggest benefit of open-source is there are no subscription limits or fees. so you can have unlimited calling, messaging, and any other included capabilities.
Our List Of Free Business VoIP Phone Systems
Our list is a combination of free versions and open-source options. You’ll notice call functionality is limited for the free plans. We don’t recommend them to large teams that need extensive operational features like call routing or phone menus.
The main purpose of those plans is to provide new teams with a system to work with. They’re not designed for large teams that expect massive growth and need call management to match those needs.
|Free and Open Source Business VoIP Solutions
|HubSpot Free CRM
|Webex Suite – Basic
|HubSpot Free VoIP Software
The organization links in the table above will take you to their listings on TrustRadius where we have user reviews to give you insight into overall customer satisfaction. The plan links take you to each VoIP services’ pricing page.
Webex is a Cisco company that offers cloud-based unified communications. They have functionality for calling, meeting, and instant messaging. They also offer hardware if your team members need an upgrade.
Webex plans are based on the cost of each user license per month. Their plans are budget-friendly and super feature-rich. All plans have the VoIP call option, including their free plan.
With the Webex Suite – Basic option you will have access to many calling features like screen sharing, unlimited messaging, and file sharing. It also has a mobile app version with mobile screen sharing. The app is compatible with both Android and iOS mobile phones. The plan does not offer a business phone number, or advanced call management features such as placing calls on hold, or call transfer.
The basic plan is best for startups looking to cultivate a client base and offer limited call options. This plan is best for teams that just need a usable system before they think about growth. It’s not the best choice if you’re more established and need more functionality and analytics.
HubSpot is a marketing giant and offers free customer relationship management software for small businesses. HubSpot Free CRM comes with limited VoIP voice call capabilities. It automatically stores your call logs to your contact records and is open to team members.
You also have access to live chat, conversational bots, and extensive email marketing features. In general, HubSpot Free CRM is an amazing resource for marketing, contact management, and team collaboration.
When it comes to limits on phone calls there are no special call management features like call forwarding, caller ID, or conference calls. The free version limits your calls to 15 minutes per month. Having a CRM software is still super beneficial for contact centers and sales teams. If your budget can handle it, HubSpot integrates with a number of VoIP options.
FreeSWITCH is an open source software program sponsored by SignalWire. SignalWire is a technology development company that offers cloud APIs and commercial editions of FreeSWITCH. If you need help during deployment or have any questions you can email them here.
The software is designed with remote and hybrid teams in mind and is compatible with mobile devices. It mainly offers calling and conference calling. You can also use it with Zoiper which is a free softphone unified communication platform.
Asterisk is another open source solution. They are building frameworks for communications applications. Sangoma is their sponsor and who you should contact with any questions. Sangoma even offers an online training course in Asterisk.
The software is generally operated by developers that understand Linux systems and telephony, which is the tech field encompassing telecommunications application development. Asterisk is designed for businesses of all sizes and types including call centers and government agencies.
The software has very strong call management features. No joke, the list is ridiculously long. They have in-depth PBX features and the ability to integrate with other applications. Asterisk is a worthwhile investment.
Some of the most significant features they have are:
- Call recording
- Call queues
- Auto attendants
- Caller ID
- Interactive Directory
- SMS messaging
There aren’t many options for video calling, but the system can also integrate with Zoiper just like FreeSWITCH.
One way your team can save money is by using a chat or messaging system built into a CRM like HubSpot. This way you won’t have to look for a calling system until your budget allows it. You can find great free CRMs in our article and see our software list of CRMs here.
If you would like to see more VoIP phone systems we have a list of VoIP providers here. There you will find real user reviews to give you more insight. We also have a list of VoIP monitoring tools here. We have a list of web conferencing solutions as well.
For those that have used any of the platforms discussed here, please leave a review to help other buyers make informed decisions.
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