Small businesses will go far if they have amazing customer communication. If you want to keep fostering strong customer connections you need an online presence, starting with a reliable phone and messaging system.
One great phone solution for small business owners is voice over internet protocol (VoIP), which is essentially a virtual phone system. VoIP phone systems can often be cheaper than traditional phone landlines and offer important business communication features.
You can improve call quality, use mobile app versions, and take advantage of team collaboration features. A VoIP service provider could satisfy your business needs in unimaginable ways.
What is a VoIP?
VoIPs are software that essentially allows you to talk, message, and video call over the internet. They can provide you with 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 services expenses can often be lower than your traditional phone plan.
For more information, you can see our definition article that explains how a VoIP works and its general benefits here.
VoIP Systems For Small Businesses
The most common VoIP business phone services include unlimited calling, unlimited video conferencing, and unlimited text messaging. These are pretty important capabilities for small businesses to scale their customer base.
Most will have a few call management features like call recording, call routing, and queues. A large portion of VoIPs are cloud-based, but some also offer hardware for hybrid offices. These can include headsets, traditional phones, cameras, and microphones.
Many of the best VoIP has built-in customer relationship management (CRM) applications or offer CRM integrations. Other VoIP features you may see include visual voicemail and auto attendants. Visual voicemail refers to automated voicemail transcriptions, while auto attendants are like virtual receptionists or virtual agents.
Several VoIPs also have automated AI programs that answer initial (or all) customer questions. Some business VoIP providers offer just a greeting attendant, and some have phone menus that guide people to the right extension.
Below we go into some great options for business VoIP software. You’ll notice their subscription plans generally range from $20 to $60 per user license. Several on the list actually do offer some licenses lower than $20. Most premium and enterprise licenses tend to be $40 to $60 per user license.
If you find the majority of these plans are still too pricey for your budget, we also have a free VoIP article you can check out here.
Webex is a CISCO company that offers unified communications. They have functionality for calling, meeting, and 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. The subscription service only offers one annual plan for Meet. The rest are month-to-month options. Their plans are budget-friendly and super feature-rich. All plans have the VoIP call option, even the Meet Plan.
|Webex Suite – Basic
|Webex Suite – Business
|Costs based on each user license.
|$15 month to month or
$13.50 billed annually
|$17 billed monthly
Webex’s Meet and Call plans are tailored to your business needs rather than a full suite. This way you can save on costs for features that you don’t need.
You would use the Meet Plan if your main need is high-quality virtual communications, such as 24hr long meetings with 200 participants. It comes with 10GB of cloud storage for your recordings. Some of their special features include breakout rooms, backgrounds, chat, file sharing, and calendar integrations.
It also has mobile functionality such as screen sharing. You can use iPads, tablets, iOS, and Android mobile phones.
The Call Plan license comes with a cloud-based phone number. Calls can be 50min with 100 callers participating. Features include phone menus, breakout rooms, backgrounds, and screen sharing. It also includes call forwarding, hold & transfer, and voicemail. Your domestic calls are unlimited and your international calls are billed by the minute (fee undisclosed).
For the Webex Suite – Basic option you will have access to many of the features in both the Call and Meet plans. This excludes the 10GB storage, the cloud-based number, and advanced call features like voicemail, hold & transfer, etc.
The basic plan is best for startups looking to cultivate a client base and offer limited call options. If you have the budget and a sizable customer base, you are better off upgrading or going with the Call Plan. This plan does not have significant Call features so you shouldn’t choose it if your team is a sales department or call center.
The Webex Suite – Business comes with all of the Meet and Call plan features. It also has security features like private meetings, and encryptions, and is HIPAA compliant. You would choose this plan if you needed both calling and messaging functions to provide your consumer services. This plan is great for small businesses on a tight budget, but with a large and fast-growing client base.
When it comes to the Enterprise Plan you will need to contact sales for pricing. The features are customizable. Some specific features include call waiting, call queue, developer tools, and voicemail-to-email. You would definitely go with this plan for larger-scale teams with private clients. The customizability can also be beneficial for an extensive customer base and call volumes.
8×8 (eight by eight) is a virtual communications platform that offers businesses voice, video, and chat lines of connection. 8×8 subscriptions allow you to choose between a month to month and annual commitments, except for 8×8 Express.
We do not know if 8×8 Express is a monthly subscription because there is no special discount for annual. In general, all plans require that you talk to sales before purchasing. We recommend you look at most price points as estimates whenever a company won’t let you purchase it without consulting.
One issue with 8×8 is that some of their pricing seems to be outdated. They have conflicts with their featured plans, like plans not being available on their site and old plan costs in demo videos. Talking with sales will help clarify this issue.
|Costs per user per month.
|$15 per user per month
|$32 per user per month
Or $24 per user per month user billed annually
|$57 per user per month
$44 per user per month billed annually
8×8 Express is not just their starting plan but it’s also a well-known plan in VoIP pricing articles because of its low cost. Other articles reported the price to be $12 per user per month, but that is not what the current pricing states. This option is packed with valuable features like auto attendants, voicemail transcriptions, and a business phone number.
It allows for unlimited calling within the US and Canada, as well as unlimited video calling and messaging. Users have access to team messaging and file sharing. The plan doesn’t allow you to buy more than 10 user seats and does not have real-time analytics.
This plan is extremely affordable for startups and small teams that need software to cover daily operations. It’s not the best choice if you want more integrations, marketing options, and metrics.
The X2 subscription offers business SMS/MMS, Microsoft teams and slack integrations, and unlimited international calls to 14 different countries (not specified). Your video meetings can also allow for up to 500 participants. This can be great for employee meetings, or conferences.
Similar to 8×8 Express there isn’t much to offer in terms of marketing and analytics. It still has fantastic operational capabilities and the bonus of international calls.
For the X4 option, you have access to admin analytics, virtual receptionists, and a total of 48 allotted countries for international calls.
In terms of integrations, the plan is scarce, but you can actually combine 8×8 with your other integrations. For example, 8×8 can be integrated into the marketing CRM giant HubSpot. For more integration options see the integration page.
The X4 plan is best for international and global remote teams. The strong analytics will also help with future decisions on campaigns and new products.
Ooma Office is a VoIP system specially designed for small business phone systems. They offer integral operational needs with calling, SMS messaging, and affordable plan costs.
These per-user costs are very enticing but you cannot purchase without contacting sales for a quote, so it’s important to view them as estimates. You should also know that Ooma has sales on their state-of-the-art phone system hardware.
|Ooma Office Pricing
|Ooma Office Pro
(Not featured on main pricing page)
|Cost per month per user.
|$19.95 monthly/per user
|$24.95 monthly/per user
|$27.99 monthly/per user
The Ooma Office subscription comes with a toll-free number, local phone number, and access to a mobile app for iOS and Android Devices. They also have call management features like virtual receptionists, call transferring, and call forwarding. The subscription features overall are really extensive.
On the flipside the plan does not have video conferencing, call recording, or the desktop app (also called a softphone) which arguably is pretty important. You also won’t find much for analytics in this plan.
In Ooma Office Pro plan has everything in Ooma Office plus all the missing features except analytics. This is still a worthwhile and affordable plan for daily operations, especially if your team needs video conferencing. It also has call blocking and voicemail transcription.
The Ooma Enterprise subscription plan is somewhat of a secret because you won’t see it on the main pricing page. This plan has all other calling features but with the addition of a real-time analytics dashboard, APIs and customizable call flows.
The fact that this plan is less than $40 per user is fairly shocking. Most VoIP premium or enterprise plans are $40 to $60 per person. With this tool you have access to important call management features and can access their corresponding metrics. It’s great for larger and established teams branching out.
Phone.com offers online communication systems and business VoIP services at an affordable price. The plans are customizable, so you don’t pay for anything you don’t actually need. With this VoIP solution, you can offer customer support through voice, video, SMS communications, and more.
We recommend you look at their plan costs as estimates because when you go to checkout you essentially build the rest of the plan. You will be prompted with a series of questions that determine your overall cost.
These questions include asking whether you want a toll-free number, local number, custom, or transfer number. From there you will actually be picking your number on the spot so make sure you are ready when you go to purchase your plan.
|Cost per user per month.
|$12.99/mo/user billed monthly
$10.39/mo/user billed annually
|$19.99/mo/user billed monthly
$15.99/mo/user billed annually
|$29.99/mo/user billed monthly
$23.99/mo/user billed annually
All Phone.com subscriptions will have HIPAA compliance, free conference calls, video meetings, SMS messaging, and voicemail. You can add additional features to build up your chosen plan. These features can be call recording, IP phone connections, and virtual receptionists. You can go here to look at more of those advanced features.
Basic Users includes video conferencing with up to 10 participants, mobile/web app access, and 50 standard call management features. You can have collaboration features like document sharing and meeting chat.
This plan is definitely designed for new VoIP users that are establishing their contact center for consumers. It offers you extensive call features to provide optimal customer service. You won’t find too many capabilities for growth such as CRM integrations and analytics.
The Plus Users will have more security options, video recording and in-meeting whiteboard functionality. This plan is not an enormous step up from Basic, but the added capabilities and security can be worth it to some teams.
The Pro Users choice gives you access to CRM integrations and call analytics. This is the best option for teams that need metrics to develop new projects, products, and reports to clients and supervisors.
Vonage is a cloud-based unified communications company. They have solutions for virtual calling and messaging. Popular industries solutions they offer include Healthcare, Education, eCommerce, and more.
Vonage offers their general business subscription services depicted below, along with hardware.
Their subscriptions are month to month per each line or agent. There are extra taxes and fees, but those are only calculated at checkout. The more employees you have, the cheaper each line will become. Below is the base cost for 1 line each but if you bring it to say 10 lines, then the lowest plan cost for Mobile is 17.99.
The plans will appear like they don’t have much to offer in terms of features. This is because over 50 of the features Vonage offers are add-ons. When you purchase a plan you add the exact features you need at checkout.
The purpose of this type of pricing model is to tailor each plan to your personal needs rather than creating entire bundles in each subscription. You can save by cutting out features you don’t absolutely need.
These add-on features include admin controls, analytics, voicemail transcripts and toll-free numbers. You can see the full list of features here.
|Cost per user per month.
|$19.99 per month/per line
|$29.99 per month/per line
|$39.99 per month/per line
Mobile is meant for remote teams that primarily use an app on their desktop or iOS/Android devices. You will have unlimited calls and messaging, along with unlimited team messaging. Users also get access to the Vonage App Center which includes over 20 integrations.
This plan is good for small teams that are on the go, entirely remote, or hybrids. If you’re mainly an in-office company, then the Premium plan may be better. Vonage also offers hardware products here.
The Premium is an upgrade to Mobile and has unlimited meetings that allow up to100 participants. In this plan you’ll have access to advanced auto attendants, marketing CRM integrations, and an IP desk phone option.
This plan is an awesome step up because it comes with marketing capabilities, automation, and an IP address for any desk phone. Premium is ideal for hybrid offices as well as teams working on marketing campaigns. You wouldn’t necessarily need this plan if you are 100% remote, you could also add the integrations you want at checkout.
Advanced includes Premium features but has more call functionality. It also includes call recording for up to 15hrs and voicemail transcriptions.
You would choose this option if you want everything Vonage subscriptions have to offer in all previous plans. You could also put your money towards more integrations or add-ons.
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.
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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