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We rigorously research, test, rank, and determine the best business communication solutions. To do this, we combine our own hands-on testing and the latest research from industry experts and actual users.

A business phone system is a VoIP-powered phone solution that provides scalable, flexible, and affordable internal and external communication methods–plus advanced calling features that include unlimited extensions, call flow options, IVRs, video conferencing, text messaging, and auto call management features that make it easy for customers to reach specific departments.

Want to go skip the read and go straight to the answer? According to our research, the best business phone systems are Nextiva and RingCentral. Keep reading to find out why.

 

Phone systems as low as $10/mo

 

Best Small Business Phone Systems for 2023

Based on our hands-on research, we’ve picked the following business phone systems as our top picks:

  1. Nextiva
  2. RingCentral
  3. GoTo Connect
  4. 8×8
  5. Dialpad
  6. Vonage
  7. Zoom One
  8. Ooma
  9. Intermedia

 

Nextiva

Nextiva is a cloud-based unified communications platform that offers VoIP phone solutions, team collaboration, live chat, customer service tools, and more in the NextivaOne platform, which is available on desktop, mobile, and tablets.

Unlike other business phone service providers, Nextiva includes a native CRM suite for sales and customer service operations, eliminating the need for toggling between other systems and offering a truly all-in-one communications and collaboration system. Agents can access features like video conferencing, text and fax, meeting rooms, and Nextiva Call Pops, which instantly display important customer information during client calls.

The dashboard below shows a good example of what you can expect from Nextiva:

 

Nextiva Workhub Launch, GetVoIP News

 

NextivaOne isn’t just a phone system. It can also be a unified application for file sharing and editing, real-time chat messaging, texting, voice calling, conferencing, and video calling.

 

Nextiva Plans & Pricing

Nextiva offers a 30-day free trial and three paid plans that are available on a month-to-month or annual subscription basis. The pricing ranges from $18.95 to $32.95 per user per month.

For more information, check out our review of Nextiva pricing and plans.

 

Noteworthy Nextiva System Features

  • Call screening, parking, forwarding, routing, and recording functionality
  • Visual voicemail and talk-to-text
  • Unlimited voice calls in the United States and Canada
  • Auto attendants and IVR call menus
  • One-click conference calling for up to 200 participants
  • Real-time/historical call analytics
  • Free phones

 

Compatible Phone Systems

Here is a list of the most popular office phone systems and hardware Nextiva 0ffers:

  • Desk Phones: Nextiva X (815, 835, 885 models), Cisco IP Phones (8845, 8865, 6851 models), Poly VVX (411, 350, 311 250, 150 models), Yealink IP Phones (T33G, T46U models)
  • Cordless Phones: Nextiva X (651R, 650, 651, 658 models), Yealink W56H DECT Handset with base station, Yealink W59R Handset with base station
  • Conference Phones: Poly Trio (8800, 8600, 8300 models), Snom C520 and C52-SP, Plantronics Poly Sync 20

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

Nextiva customer support offers 24/7 phone, email, and chat support with all plans–not just the most expensive pricing tiers.

It also includes a 99.999% guaranteed uptime with 24/7 network monitoring, eight global points of presence, and HIPAA, HITECH, SOC2, and PCI compliance.

For more information, check our review of Nextiva’s customer support.

What Users Like What Users Dislike
24/7 high-quality omnichannel support available to all users, not just those with the most expensive plan Essentials Plan lacks key features like CRM integrations, SMS, multi-level IVR, and external video calling
Robust mobile app empowers remote teams by providing access to voice and video calling, voicemail management, screen sharing, call routing, auto attendants, chat messaging, and more on-the-go High cancellation fees combined with lengthy contracts and expensive add-on/premium features like CRM connectors, agent wallboards, and IVAs

For more user reviews, check out our Nextiva reviews page.

 

RingCentral

RingCentral MVP is a unified Messaging, Phone, and Video communications system primarily designed to simplify and streamline agent workflows, increasing team productivity across channels and improved customer experiences.

 

RingCentral App

 

RingCentral is celebrated for its advanced–and highly customizable–real-time call analytics.

Admins can use pre-made reporting templates that automatically monitor over 30 KPIs relating to call quality, agent performance, team meetings, quality of service, and more. Real-time alerts instantly notify managers when performance standards fall below pre-set thresholds.

Here is a screenshot of RingCentral’s caller analytics dashboard:

 

RingCentral Analytics

 

Small businesses relying on self-service to manage most customer support requests will appreciate that RingCentral allows for up to 250 customizable IVR menus and submenus.

Admins can edit phone call flow paths at any time with RingCentral’s drag-and-drop Visual Dial Plan Editor, take advantage of numerous call routing strategies, and rely on NLP and AI to automatically evaluate and respond to customer requests.

 

RingCentral Plans & Pricing

RingCentral offers a free 15-day trial. RingCentral MVP pricing and plans for 1-20 users, start as low as $19.99/mo and up to $49.99/mo for their Ultimate plan.

Further details are available on our RingCentral Pricing overview.

 

Noteworthy RingCentral Features

  • Powerful desktop app
  • Local numbers in 200+ area codes, international numbers in 100+ countries
  • Unlimited calling in the USA and Canada
  • Unlimited SMS, MMS, and virtual faxing
  • Cross-device call presence monitoring
  • Automatic voicemail transcriptions, voicemail-to-text, and voicemail-to-email
  • RingOut one-click calling
  • On-demand and automatic call recording

 

Compatible Phone Systems

Popular phone systems and hardware RingCentral offers include:

  • Plug-and-Play Desk Phones: Poly CCX (700, 600, 500 models,) Unify CP (400, 600, 700, 700X models), Cisco (8861, 8851, 7841 models), Yealink (T57W, T48U, T54W, T46U models), Avaya (J139, J159 models)
  • Cordless: Poly Rove 40 and 30 DECT, Yealink W76P, W79P
  • Receptionist IP Phones: Yealink (T54W, T46U, T53W, T57W, T48U models), Cisco 8851, Unify (CP700X, CP700, CP600 models)
  • Conference Phones: Poly Trio (C60, 8800, 8300 models) Yealink (CP925,CP930, CP965 models)

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

RingCentral offers 24/7 live chat and phone support, upgraded paid support options like dedicated account managers, priority support, and personalized implementation and team training via RingCentral Professional Services.

RingCentral University’s free online training program provides a high level of customer self-support that is vastly superior to competitor knowledge bases.

RingCentral offers strong security and consistently high call quality thanks to its geographic redundancy, 99.999% guaranteed uptime, seven layers of network security, end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication, and fraud mitigation tools.

What Users Like What Users Dislike
The RingCentral App for desktops is intuitive and easy to use, especially compared to other VoIP providers. More affordable plans lack essential integrations like Salesforce and Zendesk.
Highly customizable analytics provide insight that helps to improve workflow and identify key issues as early as possible. Limited hardware compatibility seems designed to force users to purchase new business phones from RingCentral directly.

For more user reviews, check out the RingCentral reviews page.

 

GoTo Connect

GoTo Connect is a small business phone system with a cloud-based voice, video, and chat messaging app designed for smaller teams requiring scalable solutions but not especially advanced calling features.

 

GoTo Connect Business phone system

 

GoTo Connect is best known for its Dial Plan Editor, popular for its overall ease of use and the advanced call routing and call flow strategies that can be set up in minutes.

Take a look at GoTo Connect’s drag-and-drop visual dial plan editor:

 

GoToConnect Dial Plan Editor

 

System administrators can create “utility nodes” according to agent schedules, preferred language, caller ID, call groups, and more. These nodes automatically shift according to call volume and agent availability, reducing missed calls and callbacks. With unlimited auto attendants and submenus, pre-made recording templates, and customizable greetings, call and personalized.

GoTo Connect also includes call filtering tools that let users whitelist high-priority numbers, so VIP clients avoid waiting on hold. These filters also automatically forward VIP calls to specific preset dial plans or extensions and reject blacklisted numbers.

 

GoTo Connect Plans & Pricing

GoTo Connect offers a free 14-day trial on an annual subscription. Their pricing for 2-10 users ranges from $22 to $43 per user per month.

GoTo Connect Pricing breakdown provides additional information.

 

Noteworthy GoTo Connect System Features

  • Unlimited phone extensions and unlimited calling in the US/Canada
  • Audio conferencing for up to 10 participants
  • Individual and shared voicemail boxes
  • Call hold, call queues, unlimited ring groups, simultaneous ringing
  • Custom hold music, playlists, greetings, and messages
  • Directory Assistance

 

Compatible Phone Systems

GoTo Connect works with the following plug-and-play phones:

  • Desk Phones: Cisco (8841, 8851, 8861 models) Yealink (W60P, T57W, T54W, T48S, T46S, T42S, T40G, CP960 models) Poly VVX (601,501, 450, 350, 250 models)
  • Conference Phones: Yealink CP920 and CP960
  • Cordless Phones: Yealink W60P

 

Network Reliability And Customer Support 

Unfortunately, GoTo Connect’s customer support is consistently criticized by both past and current users because of difficulty connecting with live agents and slow turnaround times. Even its website chatbot doesn’t offer much quality assistance.

This is especially frustrating as GTC heavily advertises its alleged “24/7 support” but doesn’t specify that it’s only available to Standard and Premium customers.

Though GoTo Connect offers SSO and 2FA, it doesn’t provide end-to-end encryption. However, it has 10 global data centers to keep network performance consistent and SOC 3, CCPA, and HIPAA compliance.

What Users Like What Users Dislike
GoTo Meeting video conferencing included with every plan Lack of third-party software integrations, and included integrations are often too industry-specific to be useful to many users
Integration with 180+ desk phones let small businesses keep existing equipment Mediocre customer support, including a lackluster online knowledge base, means teams must be willing to “solve their problems”

For more user reviews, check out the GoTo Connect reviews page.

 

8×8

8×8 is a complete cloud PBX phone system offering unlimited local and global calling in 48 countries, along with SMS, team chat, and video meetings.

 

8x8 phone system

 

One of 8×8’s top features is its post-call survey tool, which includes IVR-powered questions that make it easy for customers to provide quick–but still valuable–feedback regarding agent performance.

 

8x8 post call survey

 

These surveys can pose simple yes/no questions, ask for ratings on a scale of 1-10, and allow willing customers to leave more detailed voice recordings of feedback. Teams needing more conversation-based feedback can automatically transfer customers to dedicated post-call survey voice channels or call queues.

8×8 also includes a variety of programmable ring patterns, including round robin, sequential, simultaneous ring, and more. Ring group members can be re-ordered via a drag-and-drop menu, and admins can set the time before a call is forwarded to the next member.

 

8×8 Plans & Pricing

8×8 offers a free 30-day trial, starting at $15/mo for up to 5 users on their Express plan. Our comparison of 8×8 vs RingCentral offers insight into how well the former stacks up against its competitors.

 

Noteworthy 8×8 Features

  • Call recording+cloud storage (or Dropbox storage)
  • Native CPaaS solution
  • Multi-level auto attendant
  • Visual Voicemail
  • Call Queuing, Call Monitoring, and Ring Groups
  • Click-to-Call

 

Compatible Phone Systems

The phone systems and accessories 8×8 offers include:

  • Desk Phones: Polhy CCX (400, 500, 600, 700 models), Poly Edge (B10, B20, B30, E100, E220, E300, E20, E350, E500, E550 models), Poly VVX (250, 150, 350, 450 models)
  • Conference Phones: Poly IP 6000, Poly IP 5000, Poly Trio 8300, Poly RealPresence Trio 8800
  • Cordless Phones: Poly Rove (30, 40, B2, R8 models), Yealink DECT IP Phone W76P, W79P models)

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

8×8 phone support is only available Monday-Saturday from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

However, online tech support chat via the Otto chatbot is available 24/7. Users can also create support ticket request forms on the 8×8 website.

8×8 offers a 99.999% guaranteed uptime and has GDPR, HIPAA, CPNI, FISMA compliance, and TLS and SRTP encryption. The provider also has 35 global points of presence to keep the network running smoothly.

What Users Like What Users Dislike
Advanced, AI-powered analytics, including Active Call monitoring, Company Summary, and Call Detail Records Higher learning curve than most providers, especially regarding auto attendant and IVR configuration
Extension-level call recording, on-demand or automatic call recordings and transcriptions Some key features like Intelligent IVR, Quality Management, and Interaction Analytics available only with expensive paid add-ons

For more user reviews, check out 8×8 reviews.

 

Dialpad

Dialpad’s business phone system provides excellent value to businesses with high call volumes, specifically on mobile devices. It includes voice and video calling, team chat, virtual faxing, and SMS texting.

 

Dialpad Talk

 

One of Dialpad’s top features is its AI-powered in-call voice assistance, Vi (short for “Voice Intelligence.”)

 

 

Vi offers real-time agent coaching, picking up on potential action items and caller sentiment according to trigger keywords and phrases. When Vi “recognizes” something a customer says, it pulls up relevant information from the internal knowledge base, displaying vital information on the agent’s screen. This prevents agents from putting callers on hold, and increases first-call resolution rates.

Users can also create Dialpad Departments, essentially more advanced ring groups. Departments are groups of agents that receive specific customer calls based on preset criteria. Each Department can contain up to 30 phone numbers.

 

Dialpad Plans & Pricing

Dialpad offers a free 14-day trial. Their annual subscription prices range from $15 to $25 per user per month. Our Dialpad Pricing overview offers further details.

 

Noteworthy Dialpad Features

  • Call recording and real-time transcription
  • Automatic spam detection
  • Call Routing, Call Forwarding, Call Failover
  • Visual Voicemail
  • Unlimited US and Canada Calling
  • Click-to-Call
  • Multi-level auto attendant

 

Compatible Phone Systems

Here are some of the IP phones and headsets that Dialpad works well with:

  • Desk Phones: Polycom (VVX 250, 350, 450 models), Yealink SIP (T3G, T43U, T46U, T48U, T54W, T57W models)

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

Dialpad offers a 99.9% uptime guarantee to all customers except those on the Enterprise plan, who have a 100% guaranteed uptime.

With built-in network redundancy, number failovers, and automated data backups, Dialpad offers a high level of reliability.

All Dialpad Pro and Enterprise users have 24/7 phone support, and all other plans include 24/7 chat and online ticketing. Support add-ons are available for purchase and include a dedicated account manager and professional deployment services.

What Users Like What Users Dislike
Automated post-call notes and speed coaching help agents understand where they need to improve Most affordable plan only offers integrations with Google Workspace and Microsoft 365
Each plan includes call recording, call transcriptions, and custom routing options that are usually reserved for top-tier plans. More advanced plans require users to purchase either 3 or 100 licenses

Click here for more Dialpad reviews.

 

Vonage

Vonage offers two small business phone systems options: the unified Vonage Business Communication (VBC) suite or the basic mobile and desktop-only app that allows users to connect on the go.

 

Voange business phone system

 

Vonage’s Call Announce feature automatically plays customers’ responses to IVR prompts to agents before they connect to the customer. It prevents repetition and ensures the agent has the information to assist the caller.

Call tags, summaries of the customer’s issue, contact information, and more are played, allowing the agent to transfer the call to an agent with a more appropriate skill set if needed. If an agent chooses not to accept the call, they can send calls to voicemail or reject it outright.

Vonage’s Conversation Analyzer is an AI-powered tool that uses NLP and Speech Analytics to transcribe conversations automatically, offering insight into support quality, call resolution speed and customer satisfaction levels. Vonage users can search transcriptions by keywords and can even connect them to their third-party CRM for additional data analysis.

 

Vonage Business Plans & Pricing

As of this writing, Vonage does not offer a free trial. Vonage Business Communication pricing for 1-30 users ranges from $19.99 to $39.99 per user per month. Our extensive review of Vonage Pricing offers more details.

 

Noteworthy Vonage Features

  • Click-to-call
  • Call blocking
  • Agent Directory
  • IVR and virtual receptionist
  • ACD
  • Call park, call flip, call queueing, call waiting
  • Shared line appearance
  • Call spam shield

 

Compatible Phone Systems

Phone systems and hardware Vonage offers include:

  • Desk Phones: Yealink, (W60P,T57W, T54W, SIP-T53W, SIP-T48U, SIP-T46U, SIP-T43U, SIP-T42U
  • Cordless Phones: Panasonic (TGP600, TPA 60 and 600 models), Yealink (W60 and W56H models), Poly (EM50, VVX 450, VVX 350, VVX 250, CCX 600, CCX 500 models)
  • Conference Phones: Poly Trio (8500, 8300, RealPresence Trio 8800 models), Yealink CP930W

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

Vonage’s lack of adequate customer support is a common user complaint, with reviewers citing slow response time and the fact that Vonage makes it difficult for customers to connect with a live agent for billing questions.

Additionally, there is conflicting information on support hours. Though Vonage claims to offer 24/7 support, their website states that their live chat support team is not available on evenings and weekends, and that phone support is limited in the evenings.

Vonage is HIPAA, PCI, and GDPR compliant and uses AES 256-bit encryption. It has a 99.999% guaranteed uptime.

What Users Like What Users Dislike
On-demand, company-wide, and automatic call recording rules store up to 15 hours of audio/video per extension and allows admins to email recordings or play them directly in the Admin Portal General lack of onboarding support, requires customers to pay for specialized onboarding assistance
High scalability thanks to add-ons like Visual Voicemail, Call Queuing, Call Recording, Call Monitoring, Call Groups, and more Audio conference calling is only available for up to 30 participants

Click here for more Vonage Business reviews.

 

Zoom One

Zoom One is an all-in-one communication and collaboration tool combining Zoom Phone, Zoom Meetings, team chat messaging, and collaboration tools in one system. Though a Free Plan is available, it doesn’t offer voice calling features and focuses primarily on video calling.

 

Zoom Phone

 

Most Zoom One users typically to the unified communications plan from Zoom Meetings because they need more advanced business phone system capabilities. Therefore, the team collaboration features Zoom offers are generally the biggest draw.

 

Zoom Whiteboard

Zoom One offers unlimited whiteboards, unlimited calling, 10 GB of cloud storage, and meeting capacities of up to 1,000 participants.

Zoom is also celebrated for its huge number of third party-integrations and APIs.

Even though Zoom Phone itself is a bit more basic than most options in this piece, it can integrate with virtually any CRM, project management, marketing, or workforce management tool, making it one of the most customizable phone systems on the market today.

 

Zoom Plans & Pricing

Zoom One is offered on an annual license starting at $120 per user license per year. Check out our detailed review of Zoom Phone pricing plans, which provides more pricing information.

 

Noteworthy Zoom Features

  • Noise and echo cancellation, plus typing noise suppression
  • Toll-free numbers
  • 3-way ad hoc conference calling
  • Automatic and manual call recording
  • Shared Line Appearance
  • Unlimited auto attendants and IVR menus

 

Compatible Phone Systems

Some of the top hardware for Zoom includes:

  • Desk Phones: Poly VVX (250, 450, 350 models), Yealink SIP (T46U, T54W, T58W models), AudioCodes 405, 445, 450 HD models)
  • Conference Phones: Poly C60, Yealink CP965, Konftel 800
  • Conference Room Equipment: Yealink RoomCase Digital Signage, Heckler Zoom Rooms Console, Logitech Tap Meeting Scheduler, Neat Board all-in-one touch system

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

In addition to 256-bit encryption, Zoom offers Single Sign-On, FEDRamp, SOC 2, GDPR, and HIPAA compliance. However, Zoom doesn’t offer (or at least publicize) a guaranteed uptime. However, its global points of presence and live systems monitoring page suggest high reliability.

Zoom One Customer Support is excellent, offering all users 24/7 chat with a live agent. Though 24/7 phone support is available only for top-level plans, Zoom’s extensive online knowledge and thriving user community allow for a high degree of self-service.

 

What Users Like What Users Dislike
Large number of third-party integrations and APIs, plus frequent additions due to Zoom’s overall popularity Lack of a shared voicemail box for call groups can slow down the callback and resolution process
Advanced video calling features streamline remote team collaboration within a familiar, intuitive interface Phone call analytics need improvement, as of this writing, still limited compared to most providers

Click here for more Zoom user reviews.

 

Ooma

Ooma is one of the more basic small business phone systems on our list. Still, it’s a solid choice for companies that want to continue using their existing analog hardware, need an affordable cloud calling option, and want to avoid an extensive installation and setup process.

 

Ooma Office

Ooma is well-known for its mobile app, which is surprisingly robust for a more basic phone system.

Mobile users can transfer and flip phone calls from a softphone desktop app, send messages to groups, access voicemails, make international phone calls, connect with team members via in-app extension dialing and conference rooms, and update Ooma user preferences.

Ooma also automatically creates a virtual receptionist upon installation, which can be customized with text-to-audio menu options, language preferences, ring groups, call routing strategies, and different modes for after-work hours.

 

ooma caller info match

 

Its Caller Info Match feature works with your existing CRM to provide call pop-ups of customer contact information, account overviews, order history, and more.

 

Ooma Plans & Pricing

Ooma offers three paid plans that are available on a month-to-month or annual subscription basis. The pricing ranges from $19.95 to $29.95 per user per month.

Check out our Ooma plans and pricing review for more insight.

 

Noteworthy Ooma Features

  • Virtual extensions
  • Ring groups
  • Virtual Receptionist
  • Basic analytics and call logs
  • Hold music
  • Call parking
  • Call recording

 

Compatible Phone Systems

The hardware and equipment Ooma Office works with include:

  • Desk Phones: Mitel (6863i, 6865i, 6867i, 6873, 6869i models), Poly (VVX 250, 301, 350, 40, 450 models), and Yealink (T42S and T48S models)
  • Conference Phones: Poly (IP5000, IP6000, IP7000,Poly Trio 8500, Poly Trio 8800 models)
  • DECT Wireless IP Phones: Yealink (W52P, W56H, W60P models)

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

Ooma offers 24/7 customer support via live chat, and phone support from Monday-Friday from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and Saturday/Sunday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  It also includes a somewhat clunky online user knowledge base.

Ooma offers little insight into their network reliability and security processes, but it explicitly states that it is not HIPAA compliant and has “multiple connections” to Tier-1 international carriers.

Ooma does offer end-to-end encryption, but only when making calls to other Ooma users. Our research found that Ooma also doesn’t offer two-factor authentication.

 

What Users Like What Users Dislike
Auto-configuration technology works with your existing phone hardware, only takes a few minutes to set up and configure Issues with dropped calls and low overall call quality, plus no information on guaranteed uptime provided on the Ooma website
Solid, easy-to-use mobile app ideal for on-the-go team communication A lack of more advanced features, especially third-party integrations

Click here for more Ooma user reviews.

 

Intermedia Unite

Intermedia Unite is a cloud phone system offering PBX voice and video calling, SMS texting, team chat messaging, and team collaboration tools in one interface.

 

Intermedia Unite Calling

 

Intermedia is known for its high-level security and reliability, thanks to its five-pillar Worry-Free Experience™. Intermedia offers an SLA guaranteed 99.999% uptime, SecuriSync™ file security, end-to-end encryption, regulatory compliance, cloud concierge onboarding, and award-winning 24/7 technical support.

Intermedia’s Unite Envision feature offers extensive real-time and historical call center analytics in a graph, chart, and interactive list formats.

It offers pre-made and custom reporting templates for KPIs like call quality, call history, call abandonment rate, routing data, number of calls per agent and department, call type, call duration and time, and more. It also takes data from third-party CRM systems into account when compiling analytics.

 

Intermedia Plans And Pricing

Intermedia Unite offers two paid plans: The Unite Pro plan with a base pricing of $27.99/user/month and the Unite Enterprise Plan with a base pricing of $32.99/user/month. A 30-day trial is available.

Our review of Intermedia Unite plans and pricing.

 

Noteworthy Intermedia Features

  • User Presence
  • Call queuing, call greetings, outbound caller ID, hold music
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Auto attendant and IVR
  • Up to 10 call groups (hunt groups)
  • File co-editing, backup, syncing, and sharing
  • Virtual faxing
  • Video conferencing with screen annotation for up to 200 participants and 30 simultaneous screen streams
  • Meeting transcripts

 

Compatible Phone Systems

IP Phones and hardware Intermedia Unite sells include:

  • Desk Phones: Poly (VVX 150, 250 350, 450 models) Yealink (T33G, T53W, T54W, T57W models) 
  • Conferencing Phones: Yealink CP965, Yealink CP925

 

Reliability And Customer Experience 

Intermedia Unite is well-known for its accessible, high-quality 24/7 phone and chat customer support.

It’s also HIPAA, GDPR, and PCI compliant, ISO-27001 certified, and offers 24/7/365 data monitoring. Users receive real-time security notifications via SMS, text-to-speech calls, or in-app dashboard alerts.

Intermedia offers an excellent onboarding process with customer training, a Strategic Client Services Management team, webinars, and customer success representatives.

 

What Users Like What Users Dislike
Robust interface provides access to all key features in one dashboard, but doesn’t feel overcrowded or overly complicated Limited third-party integrations only include basics, and Salesforce integration only available on most expensive plan
Customer training, 24/7 customer support, simple migration process, and a high ease of use Limited number of video conference participants, especially given the higher price tag

Click here for more Intermedia user reviews.

 

 

Business Phone System Features

Though there are over 100 VoIP phone system features, we’ve highlighted the most important features for small businesses below.

 

Call Routing

Call Routing automatically distributes calls to specific agents, ring groups, departments, or voicemail boxes according to preset rules and/or responses to IVR prompts–without putting the customer on hold or forcing them to hang up call another number.

 

Call Routing

 

Popular call routing strategies include list-based routing, skills-based routing, VIP/relationship-based routing, time-based routing, most idle routing, and round-robin routing.

 

Call Forwarding

Call Forwarding automatically sends (forwards) unanswered calls to additional business telephone numbers instead of sending them to voicemail, ending the calls, or making customers call additional phone numbers themselves.

For example, if you miss a call at your desk phone, call forwarding will instantly forward the call to your mobile phone. If you don’t answer on your cell, the call is forwarded to your home phone, your voicemail box, another agent, or the main menu. Call forwarding settings can be customized and edited at any time, and admins can set the number of rings before the call is forwarded to the next number on the list.

 

Omnichannel Communication

Omnichannel customer service and communication combine all your business communication channels (video, calling, SMS, etc.) into one unified, automatically-synced interface.

 

Omnichannel Customer Service

 

Customers and employees can easily switch between channels during a single conversation or support interaction without missing a beat. For example, a customer could start a customer support interaction with a phone call and end that interaction on a video conference with screen sharing for better assistance.

Omnichannel communication not only cuts down on app switching, it also lets customers choose their preferred way to connect with your company. Plus, it makes it easy for multiple reps to work on the same support ticket without the customer needing to repeat themselves each time they speak to a different agent.

 

Visual Voicemail

Visual Voicemail automatically transcribes voicemail messages, then sends these transcriptions to agents as emails, text messages, or displays the text directly in the softphone interface.

This way, agents don’t lose time listening to longer messages, can better prioritize callbacks, or send reply texts to callers they’ve missed with relevant information.

 

Automated Callbacks

Automated Callbacks (also called Customer Callbacks) let customers select their preferred date and time to receive a callback from a business, allowing them to avoid waiting on hold for extended periods or having to call back multiple times until they reach an agent.

Once the customer schedules their callback, the call is automatically placed in a relevant agent’s call queue, speeding up the resolution process and keeping customer satisfaction rates high by reducing hold times.

 

Integrations

Third-party integrations allow small businesses to connect existing software and other applications they’re currently using to their business phone system, eliminating the need to switch between windows to access multiple tools.

Integrations make it easy for teams to access additional features that the VoIP provider may not offer, while APIs let IT teams customize their own features and apps to integrate with their phone system.

Common third-party integrations include marketing tools like MailChimp, chat apps like Slack, project management apps like Asana, CRM software like Salesforce, and industry-specific apps like Canva, Curve Dental, or Shopify.

 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) 

IVR is an interactive call menu that automatically plays when a customer dials your business phone number, providing prompts and information that allows for a higher level of customer self-service.

 

IVR Call Flow

 

Callers can enter their responses to IVR system prompts via dial pad touch-tone or speak their responses into the phone directly. NLP (Natural Language Processing) and editable call flow paths analyze the customer’s response, sending calls to relevant agents and departments or playing helpful pre-recorded information.

 

Call Recording and Call Monitoring

Call recording records all business calls automatically or on-demand, saving these recordings in a searchable database that lets managers conduct quality assessments, review call histories, and protect themselves in the event of a false accusation by a client. Many recording tools allow agents and admins to pause and restart recordings during conversations, protecting clients’ most sensitive information.

Most call recordings are also transcribed, allowing faster call reviews and letting managers search for specific words/phrases or review detailed voice analytics.

Call monitoring lets managers listen to agent conversations with clients in real-time, while call whisper lets managers advise agents during live conversations (without the caller hearing.) Call barge (call takeover) lets managers immediately take control of any customer-client call that needs a higher-up’s intervention.

 

Call Reporting and Analytics

Small business phone providers offer customizable and pre-made reporting templates that offer insight into customer and agent behavior, call center and contact center activity, and even AI-powered analysis.

These reports can be generated automatically or manually and shared and exported to other team members.

Common metrics to track include:

  • Daily/weekly/monthly call volume (total number of business calls, calls per department, calls per agent, calls within a specific date range, etc.)
  • Outbound Calls: Incoming Calls ratio
  • Percentage of missed calls transferred calls, and calls that went to voicemail.
  • Call Abandonment Rate
  • Cost per Call
  • Average call length
  • Customer Satisfaction Rating (CSAT)
  • First Call Resolution Rate (FCR)

 

Types of Business Phone Systems

Here, we’ll explain the available types of business phone systems, focusing especially on the differences between premise-based and cloud-based solutions.

 

Premise-Based Phone Systems 

An On-Premise (Premises-Based) business phone system means all necessary telephony equipment and hardware (servers, handsets, wiring, etc.) are physically located on the business or office premises. 

It also means the end user (AKA, your company) is responsible for managing business phone system installation, upgrades, maintenance, and security–not the phone system provider themselves.

 

Landline Business Phone Systems 

Though standard landline telephones operating via the PSTN are still available as premises-based solutions, most companies have made the switch to on-premise PBX systems.

Why?

Because not only do old-school landlines and cordless phones lack the features of cloud-based VoIP phone systems, but they’re also incredibly expensive to operate. Above all, standard phone systems are well on their way to becoming entirely obsolete–with most experts estimating they’ll be mostly gone by 2025.

 

Traditional PBX Systems 

Like landlines, Traditional PBX (Private Branch Exchange) also uses the PSTN to manage inbound and outbound business phone calls.

However, an on-premise PBX essentially provides your business with its own private telephone data network, meaning you’ll cut down on the costs of additional phone lines.

Although this offers your company greater control, note that a standard PBX phone system is fixed to a single location (within your office building, where the hardware is located.

It’s also accessible only to connected devices, like desk phones–so agents can only use their business telephones when they’re physically at the office. Finally, the sheer expense of an on-premise PBX system, which can easily run up to $20,000 to install, means it’s just not an option for small businesses.

 

Cloud-Based Phone Systems 

A cloud-based phone system uses Internet-powered VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) to offer provider-managed business telephone communications hosted offsite, within the virtual cloud.

Cloud phone systems are much more affordable than on-premise systems, as they can work with existing equipment, don’t require in-house IT teams since the provider manages maintenance and upgrades, and offer scalable month-to-month bundled payment plans. Most companies switching from landlines to virtual phone systems save at least 50% on business communications costs.

Our comparison of VoIP vs landlines offers additional information.

 

VoIP  

Because VoIP (sometimes called virtual telephony or IP telephony) isn’t connected to the wired PSTN, your business phone system is accessible anywhere and on any device with an Internet connection. This means agents can take calls on their desktop computers via a softphone interface, on mobile phones via iOS or Android mobile apps, or on tablets.

Cloud phone systems offer flexibility, scalability, and the incalculable benefit of numerous advanced VoIP service features–all for a fraction of the cost of premises-based systems.

For further explanation on the differences between cloud-based and premise-based phone systems, check out our comparison of VoIP vs PBX.

 

Cloud PBX Systems

Cloud PBX (Hosted PBX or Virtual PBX) phone systems also provide businesses with their private phone system. However, unlike on-premise PBX, cloud PBX is hosted in an offsite data center and managed by the third-party PBX provider, not the end user.

This means businesses avoid the expenses of purchasing hardware, in-house IT teams, and maintenance. Hosted PBX makes it much easier to scale phone lines up or down, as it doesn’t require the installation of physical wiring and cabling.

Best of all, Cloud PBX systems give users access to VoIP business phone systems’ mobility and advanced features. Our overview of Virtual PBX phone systems provides additional details.

 

SIP Trunking

SIP Trunking is a gateway that establishes a connection between your existing premise-based PBX system and VoIP virtual telephony, allowing you to simultaneously keep your on-site PBX equipment and get the benefits of VoIP.

The below diagram offers a visual explanation of the differences between hosted PBX and SIP Trunking:

SIP Trunk users are still responsible for purchasing and maintaining their own PBX equipment. However, SIP Trunking creates a virtual connection to the PSTN that makes adding virtually unlimited phone lines and communication channels much easier–while combining all telephony solutions in one structure.

Our guide to Hosted PBX vs SIP Trunking further explains the differences between these two types of cloud-based business phone systems.

 

How to Choose a Business Phone System

Finding the right small business phone system shouldn’t just be about pricing and available features. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  • Consider smaller details like contract lengths, guaranteed uptime, support channels and availability, and overall ease of use.
  • Think about how long your team will take to adapt to and learn to use the potential provider and whether or not on-demand video or in-person user training is offered.
  • Remember to ensure that the platform is compatible with any hardware/equipment you plan to continue using, as well as with your preferred third-party software.

Above all, do your research and don’t rush into a decision. Once you’ve narrowed your list, check our head-to-head comparisons on the best Business VoIP providers for more information.

 

Small Business Phone Systems FAQs

Below, we’ve answered some of the top business phone system FAQs.

A business phone system works by facilitating VoIP communication, which breaks up voice audio into smaller data packets that travel to their destination via the Internet, where they then reassemble. VoIP phone systems make it easy to add new phone numbers and extensions, as no physical copper wiring is required. VoIP telephony means scalable, mobile calling anywhere with Internet access.
Most business phone systems require little installation and work with your existing hardware (desktop computers, smartphones, etc.) You’ll need a strong Internet connection, a router, a modem, and a few other key pieces of VoIP equipment. The setup process of the system itself usually entails developing call flow paths, recording IVR systems, assigning agents to extensions and call groups, and more.

Top business phone system benefits include:

  • Cost savings of between 50-70% compared to landline phone systems
  • Additional communication channels
  • Advanced VoIP features like visual voicemail, IVR, and automated callbacks
  • More detailed real-time and historical analytics
  • Improved internal collaboration
  • Higher first call resolution rates
The two main types of business phone systems are on-premise and cloud-based, with the latter being the most popular. The most common cloud phone types are: - VoIP - SIP Trunking - Hosted PBX