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UCaaS combines multiple business communication and collaboration tools into a single, unified platform, offering cost-effective scalability and flexibility. It combines VoIP, team chat, video conferencing, and SMS into one hosted platform, exemplifying why 82% of businesses report savings when moving to the cloud.

Read on to learn what a UCaaS system is and how it can benefit your business.


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What is UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) is a business communication software that bundles VoIP calling, SMS texting, team chat, and video conferencing for team collaboration and external communications. The UCaaS dashboard unifies these channels on mobile and desktop along with voicemail, routing features like IVR, and call queues.


How Does UCaaS Work?

UCaaS works by providing a desktop and mobile application that unifies dozens of communications features and channels. From the app dashboard, users can make and receive VoIP calls, send and receive SMS text, message teammates, and create or join video meetings with hundreds of participants.

To get started, your administrator creates an account and adds each user, inviting them by email. Purchase virtual phone numbers from around the country or globe and assign them to users, who can instantly begin making and receiving calls. Since the desktop and mobile apps use softphone functionality, the only requirement is an internet connection–VoIP phones are optional.


Essential UCaaS Features

The most essential UCaaS features are VoIP calling, SMS texting, team chat, and video conferencing. Voicemail, routing and IVR menus, and call queues are also key features.

Here’s a breakdown of essential UCaaS features:

  • VoIP calling
  • Call routing and IVR
  • Ring groups
  • Video conferencing
  • Team chat messaging
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Third-party integrations


VoIP Calling

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony lets users make unlimited calls within the United States and Canada via the Internet, with call controls like hold, transfer, forward, and call parking. Choose local, toll-free, vanity, and even international phone numbers.

GoTo Connect Live Call


Call Routing and IVR

Call routing features determine how your phone system handles and transfers inbound calls. Create an interactive voice response (IVR) menu that plays an automated message for customers, letting them choose which department they’d like to reach. Customize each menu option, attach forwarding rules and business hours, and link departments and ring groups to customize call handling.


Ring Groups

Ring groups are a call routing feature that lets you create agent groups that share call responsibility. When one employee receives a call, so do the other numbers in the ring group. Customize the ring order with options like simultaneous ring, sequential, round robin, or a custom order.


Video Conferencing

Create video meetings that last up to 24 hours, with hundreds of participants. Create and schedule meetings directly within the UCaaS dashboard, and generate invite links which you can send to teammates or external users. Sync calendars for an organized schedule.

Video meetings include interactive features like chat, screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, breakout rooms, waiting rooms, and whiteboards.


Team Chat Messaging

Team messaging enables real-time chat via one-on-one direct messaging and large-group channels. The UCaaS dashboard menu displays your active and recent conversations, with notifications for all new activity.

Within each chat, you can share files, react with emojis, and jump into a video huddle with one click.

Zoom review by GetVoIP


Reporting and Analytics

Access reports and call logs for all agents, plus advanced analytics that track metrics like call volume and staff activity across all channels. View this data over custom timeframes, sorting it by user or department. The Analytics dashboard organizes the data in various displays like tables, graphs, and statistics.


Third-Party Integrations

UCaaS platforms integrate with dozens of popular software platforms like CRM systems, collaboration apps, databases, and calendar software. Sync data from apps like Salesforce and HubSpot to populate in-depth customer profiles. Link team messaging with Slack or Google Drive.


UCaaS Benefits

UCaaS platforms are a cost-effective way to improve team collaboration. They’re easy to set up, scalable, and support a remote workforce. Unified communications also provides advanced features that you wouldn’t find through alternative communication setups.

  • Better customer service: UCaaS combines multiple communication channels, including voice, SMS, and video. These channels enable new customer-facing touchpoints, with self-service options like IVR for customer convenience.
  • Improved team collaboration: Team chat and video meetings enable quick and interactive team collaboration, accessible on desktop or mobile
  • Cost-effective: Averaging roughly $25 monthly per user, UCaaS platforms provide a low-cost way to expand your company’s communication system
  • Scalable: Easily add and remove users in minutes, simply by purchasing a subscription and virtual phone number. Users only need an internet connection–no hardware required.
  • Supports remote work: Since users can access their UCaaS app anywhere and use virtual phone numbers based around the globe, UCaaS systems work well for remote and hybrid teams
  • Advanced features: UCaaS platforms bundle dozens of advanced digital features like IVR menus, call queues, whiteboards, and call monitoring. These features would cost much more if added individually, or through separate apps.


UCaaS Challenges

While UCaaS offers many benefits, it poses a few challenges as well. UCaaS may lead companies to pay for features that they won’t use, and these features may have a steep learning curve for some users. Unified communications also lacks channel flexibility, and it requires an internet connection for functionality.

  • Requires strong internet connection: UCaaS apps, especially video meetings and VoIP calls, require sufficient bandwidth. Teams using UCaaS must maintain a stable internet connection.
  • Unnecessary features: Since each UCaaS platform includes dozens of features, you will likely end up paying for some features that you don’t use. While the UCaaS cost may still be worth it, consider choosing a low-cost pricing tier for a better value.
  • No customization: While contact centers and API-based communication systems enable you to customize your user dashboard, UCaaS comes in a premade app with few customization options
  • Steep learning curve: It may take users several weeks to become familiar with the UCaaS features, channels, and interface
  • Lacks channel flexibility: API-based communication systems like CPaaS let you pick your communication channels, including options like email, live chat, and chatbots. UCaaS does not offer these channels, which limits the ways you can connect with customers.


How to Choose a UCaaS Provider

When choosing a UCaaS system for your company, consider the features, channel offerings, and dashboard. Compare pricing plans for your favorite providers, looking for a system that offers the best value while meeting your budget.

Use the following tips to choose the best UCaaS provider for your company:

  • Compare channel offerings: Compare the channels that each provider offers on their respective plans. Determine which channels you truly want, and only opt for a UCaaS platform that includes those channels.
  • Determine your routing needs: Consider your company’s inbound and outbound call volume to determine which routing features you need. If you have many departments, you may want a product with call queues; and if you want to offer customer self-service be sure to choose a product with an IVR menu.
  • Use free trials and tutorials: Before subscribing to a UCaaS provider, use the product’s free trial to get a feel for the interface. Many products also offer demos on their website, which offers a useful resource for determining user experience.
  • Check out the integration offerings: Each UCaaS product includes a unique offering of third-party integrations. Before choosing a UCaaS system, compare each provider’s integrations, to see which ones connect with the software systems you already use.


How UCaaS Integrates AI

UCaaS providers have begun implementing AI to streamline and automate functions like video-meeting summaries, customer support, agent support, task and call routing, lead qualification, and response suggestions for live agents. These features help companies remain competitive, as 80% of customer support organizations are anticipated to use AI by 2025.

Here are some of the ways UCaaS integrates AI:

  • Video conferencing: Platforms like Dialpad and RingCentral use AI to provide live video-meeting captions, translate these captions into different languages, extract to-do items for participants, and generate post-meeting summaries
  • Team messaging: Software like Zoom and OpenPhone use AI to summarize lengthy messages from teammates and generate auto responses
  • Call transcription: Some UCaaS platforms use AI to transcribe calls, logging each transcription with the recording in the call log
  • Real-time agent guidance: AI can provide agents with real-time canned responses and suggested actions
  • Analytics: UCaaS systems use AI to identify trends and KPIs for agent performance, sales success, and customer service. Natural language understanding can identify customer sentiment, ticket resolution status, and the customer’s lead status.


My Thoughts on UCaaS and Where It’s Headed

I consider UCaaS software a middle ground between team chat apps like Slack, call centers like Five9, video conferencing like Google Meet, and a VoIP phone system. But due to UCaaS’ lower price, I think it provides better value per-dollar than these other types of software.

UCaaS costs roughly one-fourth as much as call centers, while providing many of the same basic features. The familiar dashboard on desktop and mobile makes it easy for teams to adjust their workflows and communications to a unified communications system.

Companies that want to provide customer service across many channels–like email, live chat, and chatbot–should pay the higher fee for a contact center software. Teams with their own customer-facing app or website should choose CPaaS. But teams seeking a low-risk, low-cost VoIP phone system and basic communication platform should choose UCaaS. Experts predict that UCaaS will maintain a 13.9% annual growth rate through the end of this decade, but I think the adoption rate may go higher.



Below, we’ve answered the top UCaaS FAQs.