Hosted VoIP providers give many of the same PBX features associated with Fortune 500 companies. As VoIP becomes more and more mainstream, users have come to expect more from their VoIP provider. In turn, most providers step up and give more features at the same low price. Figuring out which provider is best for you can sometimes mean knowing the small differences between providers that have a lot of overlapping features and benefits. Jive Communications and ShoreTel Sky are well known as much for their guaranteed reliability as they are for the gobs of features they offer. Here, though, are ten ways that Jive Communications outperforms one of their competitors.
If you have a medium to large organization, the large CAPEX of new phones can make the change seem not worth it. Jive makes it easy for subscribers with 25 or more users to get free or heavily discounted IP phones with a three year contract.
Subscribers can get, for example, the Polycom IP321/331 (PoE) for no charge. More expensive phones have steeper discounts off their original price. Jive sells both Cisco and Polycom phones, and even offers a discount on their power supplies (sold separately than most phones).
Jive makes a commitment to their subscribers to earn their business every day. Jive offers month-to-month service; ShoreTel Sky makes you sign an annual contract. Both Jive and ShoreTel can site studies affirming their high customer satisfaction rate and how highly they would recommend the service to friends and colleagues. If you want to upgrade, downgrade, or leave Jive entirely, Jive won’t tie you down to a long-term contract.
Jive has a greater selection of phones available on their website–25, as opposed to ShoreTel Sky, which has just 15. Jive is also compatible with most SIP phones, so you can be sure to get the latest phones from retailers. ShoreTel Sky only uses a small number of approved phones, and has a policy of not allowing SIP to use an unauthorized phone.
Jive recommends Cisco, Polycom and Panasonic phones, and their user guide even gives instructions on how to use other brands of phones. ShoreTel Sky has their proprietary ShoreTel phones and supports a handful of Polycom and Cisco phones.
Both Jive and ShoreTel Sky have their in-house softphones. But, if you prefer to use another softphone, the list for ShoreTel Sky is pretty short. They only support Counterpath eyeBeam. Because Jive supports any SIP phone, that means you can use any softphone as well. In addition to Counterpath eyeBeam, you can use your favorite, including Zoiper, Bria, and Counterpath X-Lite.
Many users like the features and interface of their preferred softphone, and will use it not just on their desktop but on their tablet and smartphone as well. Many employers like BYOD, in part because it saves money, and in part because workers can have access to the office every where they go.
Both Jive and ShoreTel Sky support paging, which is when you make a one-way communication to several people over their Speakerphones. ShoreTel lets you page 12 people per location, but Jive gives you unlimited groups. Both providers support two-way intercoms.
You can use the Jive dial plan to set it so callers can press the * key while on hold and and leave a message for you, rather than wait. Instead of leaving a message, you can also set it to go back to the main menu, have a separate menu, or other options. In order to use this effectively, set a periodic announcement during the hold.
With both Jive and ShoreTel Sky, you can use a recorded message to interrupt the hold message, or use a customized music loop up to five minutes long. Both providers let you give the caller information on their place in the queue and the anticipated wait time.
In many companies, particularly small companies, one person may manage several departments. With Jive, you can have different extensions, each with its own outgoing message. But, you can have all the different extensions’ messages all go to one user’s inbox. This way, you can give a professional, Fortune 500 appearance, on a small business budget.
Traditional faxes are still commonplace, particularly in highly regulated fields like medical and legal. Jive supports fax adapters to use legacy fax machines over IP. In fact, they sell the Cisco SPA112 ATA specifically as a fax adapter. ShoreTel Sky, on the other hand does not recommend paper fax machines. They acknowledge that the Cisco SPA112 is designed for fax machines, and may possibly work with faxes, but they do not support it.
Jive treats a fax machine as an additional user, and bills that way. Note that both providers do support paperless faxing.
ShoreTel Sky subscribers get US-based support from 8AM-8PM ET Monday through Friday (4AM-4PM PT), with 24/7 emergency support. Jive offers US-based 24/7 phone support, including both technical support and customer care, so even if you are having issues after business hours or on weekends, Jive is there for you.
Most VoIP providers today have an unlimited plan, which includes local and long distance to anyone in the US. VoIP is also great for making international calls. Jive subscribers can make unlimited calls to anyone in the US or Canada. ShoreTel Sky subscribers get unlimited US calls, but must pay $0.063/minute to call our friends to the North. Both providers have great international rates.
When it comes to VoIP, there are over fifty hosted PBX features that every provider offers. Some providers offer cutting edge technology, while others offer tailored plans to keep prices down. Either way, you can be sure to get more features at a better price than traditional PBXs. Jive and ShoreTel Sky manage to provide great features, guaranteed reliability, and a low price.