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The Best Phone Systems for Small Businesses

Posted: January 03, 2022
Author: Kyle Newgent
Best Phone Systems for Small Businesses

Owning a small business takes skill, resilience, and focus. It also requires a lot of communication. No matter how big or small your company is, staying connected with your team is crucial. 

When making calls to clients, partners, and coworkers, you’ll want a phone system that accommodates all your needs. Every business is different, so this isn’t a one size fits all operation. However, there are some core considerations to keep in mind when you’re deciding which business phone system will be best for you:

  • Overall rating: What do real users think? We’ve pulled the star ratings from PCMag.com to give you an overall picture of user  satisfaction.

  • Price: With options available in almost any price range, make sure your system sticks to the budget. We’ll also look at contract options so the plan fits your needs, too.

  • Functionality: While there are countless phone system capabilities out there, we’ll check for 4 that almost every business will need - conference calling, call transferring, video conferencing, and voicemail.

  • Support: Technology isn’t always easy to navigate! Pick a system that ensures quality support whenever you need it.

  • Drawbacks: What shortcomings do these systems have? Are they deal breakers?

With those considerations in mind, we’ve compiled a bunch of information to help you narrow down your search for the best small business phone system.

  

Dialpad

Dialpad is geared toward small businesses. You can talk, text, and conference from one platform, and the system itself is easy to navigate. It’s integratable with a variety of common business software such as Salesforce, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. The functionality all exists within a handy app that’s compatible with any WiFi-connected device. 

PCMag Rating: 4 out of 5

Price:

  • Minimum monthly cost: $15.00 per user

  • Add-on options: Upgraded plans, advanced video conferencing

  • Contract options: Monthly, yearly

Functionality:

Conference calling: You can start a conference call with any device connected to WiFi. Anyone can join, even if they use a business phone system other than Dialpad!

Call transferring: You just put the call on hold, press the “Transfer” button, and enter the name of the person you’d like to transfer to. The process is super easy and intuitive.

Voicemail: Dialpad gives you more than baseline voicemail functionality. If you’re making calls to prospective clients and getting a lot of peoples’ voicemails, you can record a message that will automatically be left for the call recipients. It saves time and ensures a perfectly worded message every time.

Video conferencing: It’s available but, unfortunately, it’s not all included in your basic plan. If you want to have video calls with more than 10 people, you’ll have to upgrade to UberConference. This addition will cost $15 or $20 per month based on if you pay annually or monthly, respectively. 

Support:

Support is available no matter what plan you select, but the extent of it varies. With Dialpad’s baseline plan, you can chat with a service rep 24 hours a day, but only on weekdays. If you upgrade your plan to either of the higher tier options, you’ll have 24/7 support, both via chat and phone. Supplemental literature (free), videos (free), and even business account managers (supplemental charge) are also available.

Drawbacks:

If it’s important to you to track call metrics regularly and in detail, Dialpad might not be the right business phone system for you. Format options for the reports they offer are limited, and the content isn’t what every user is looking for. There isn’t a way to keep track of call quality, which some small business owners might see as a deal breaker.

  

Zoom

Zoom isn’t exactly your traditional small business phone system, but it does the trick for lots of companies. Many users are only aware of the capabilities of the free version of Zoom, but paid plans can give you advanced functionality that allows you to stay on top of your office communication.

PCMag Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Price:

  • Minimum monthly cost: Free

  • Add-on options: Upgraded plans, advanced support, extra Cloud storage, audio conferencing, larger participant capacity

  • Contract options: Monthly and yearly for some plans, yearly only for Enterprise plans

Functionality:

Conference calling: Audio conferencing is a paid add-on to upgraded plans. It costs a minimum of $100 per month for the whole business; this cost supplements the paid Zoom plans, which range from $149.90 to $240/year/license. 

Call transferring: Calls can be transferred to and from anyone who has activated Zoom Phone. This feature starts at $120/user/year, and it functions similarly to other business phone systems you might be familiar with. 

Voicemail: Voicemail is available, but only through paid Zoom Phone plans.

Video conferencing: Without even upgrading from the free plan, you can host up to 100 participants in a video meeting. With an Enterprise plan, that number increases to 500, and add-ons can give you the capacity for 1000. If you want to host a webinar (with inactive participants), add-ons starting at $690/year/license can give you the ability to host 10,000+ participants.

Support:

Support varies by plan. The free version of Zoom comes with a help center. It has lots of pre-existing resources, but you won’t get live help. Support included with paid plans increases incrementally, with the most advanced option offering ticket generation, live chats, and phone help sessions. Further support add-ons are available, so you can even have your own account manager if you need one.

Drawbacks:

To get full business phone system functionality, you’ll have to purchase a lot of different plans/add-ons. If you’re looking for one-stop-shop comprehensive functionality, Zoom isn’t your best option. 

 

Ooma

Ooma is a popular business phone system that’s compatible with lots of desk phones, and you can shop for them through their site. However, all the functionality that many small businesses need is available through the Ooma app (mobile with the baseline plan, desktop added with an upgraded plan). There are only 3 plans to choose from, which makes the purchasing process easy.

PCMag Rating: 4 out of 5

Price:

  • Minimum monthly cost: $19.95 per user

  • Add-on options: Upgraded plans

  • Contract options: Monthly

Functionality:

Conference calling: This feature is only available with the highest tier plan: the Enterprise plan, which goes for $27.99/user/month.

Call transferring: The baseline, Pro, and Enterprise plans all allow you to play music for whoever is on the line waiting to be transferred. It’s a simple but effective way to improve the customers’ experience!

Voicemail: All plans allow for easy voicemail listening and a personalized outgoing message. The advanced plans ($24.95/user/month Pro plan or Enterprise plan) give you access to transcriptions of your voicemails, which can be sent straight to your email. 

Video conferencing: This feature is only available with the Pro and Enterprise plans. Pro allows for calls with up to 25 participants, but Enterprise allows for unlimited.

Support:

All plans come with live 24/7 support. You can talk with an agent via phone or online chat. The live support is supplemented by a wide variety of online resources like manuals and videos.

Drawbacks:

Unlike many other business phone systems , there isn’t a free trial period. This might be a drawback for new business owners who need to try before they buy.

 

Grasshopper

Grasshopper is a small business phone system. It’s a great jumping off point for many companies. Choose between Solo, Partner, and Small Business plans based on how many people will be using the system. No matter what plan you choose, you’ll have access to mobile and desktop apps.

PCMag Rating: 3 out of 5

Price:

  • Minimum monthly cost: $26 total

  • Add-on options: Upgraded plans

  • Contract options: Monthly, yearly

Functionality:

Conference calling: Conference calls are limited to 10 participants. You’ll have to add their numbers individually, as dialing into a conference call yourself is not supported. The process is a bit more complicated than other business phone systems, but it gets the job done.

Call transferring: Grasshopper, like Ooma, will let you play music for whoever you put on hold to transfer.

Voicemail: Transcriptions are available along with more baseline voicemail functionality, including personal outgoing messages and emailed audio files. 

Video conferencing

Support:

24/7 phone support is available for all customers.

Drawbacks:

This small business phone system takes “small” seriously. The Small Business plan, the biggest one, only includes 5 separate phone numbers on an account. You can add extra phone numbers, but they cost $10 each per month, which quickly takes the low plan cost up. Additionally, many popular features are unavailable with these plans. That’s reflected in the price, but if you’re going for more advanced functionality, Grasshopper won’t be for you.

 

RingCentral

RingCentral is operated through an app that’s compatible with all Wifi-enabled devices. It’s great for small businesses, but it can grow with you; all plans above the baseline one have unlimited user capacity.

PCMag Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Price:

  • Minimum monthly cost: $19.99 per user

  • Add-on options: Upgraded plans, additional phone numbers, high volume texting

  • Contract options: Monthly, yearly

Functionality:

Conference calling: Conference calling is unlimited for all plans except the most basic one, the Essentials plan.

Call transferring: The process for transferring a call is slightly less intuitive than the business phone systems with clearly marked “Transfer” buttons, but it still only takes 4 steps.

Voicemail: Transcripts of voicemails, visual voicemail, and emailed audio files are available to customers with all plan types. 

Video conferencing: Video meetings are an option for all plans above Essentials. Each tier with video conferencing capabilities has an increased participant capacity, with the plans allowing for up to either 100 or 200 attendees.

Support:

The Essentials plan doesn’t give you access to 24/7 live support, but every other plan does. The support page on the RingCentral website is equipped with plenty of helpful guides, but it’s a bit dense. 

Drawbacks:

If you plan on integrating your business phone system with apps like Google or Teams, you’ll have to dish out some extra cash for an upgraded plan. This might make the system less appealing to business owners who utilize a wide variety of productivity software.

 

Your small business needs seamless connection, both internally and externally. The right business phone system can streamline communication, improve the customer and employee experience, and help your business reach its full potential. If you pay attention to your company’s requirements and evaluate options with your needs in mind, you’ll end up with a phone system that keeps your business flourishing.

Hi, I'm Kyle!

I manage this blog. Feedback, comments, complements, criticisms, or any other questions? I'll take them all!

Kyle Newgent
Headset Blogger