Phone calls are the backbone of most businesses. Customers are still more likely to call to get information or discuss issues than they are to deal with a website. Many people still prefer to talk to a real person; plus, the interaction of conversation builds customer relations, and hence, customer loyalty. Nowadays, more businesses are turning to voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to handle their calling needs.
VoIP enables you to talk over the internet instead of using a traditional telephone line. It breaks up the audio signal into very small segments and converts it to binary code to transfer it over the internet. When the data reaches its destination, it is converted back into an audio signal. With the high speeds of internet, VoIP calls generally have the same quality and reliability as standard phone calls, but they cost significantly less.
In addition to saving money on long-distance calls, using a business VoIP service instead of a traditional landline service provides increased flexibility for you and your employees. You can talk to others with your computer rather than a phone, which allows you to pull up caller information without switching devices. VoIP comes with a multitude of standard calling features, many of which improve your efficiency when working with customers. We found that Ring Central, Jive and 8x8 are the best VoIP business providers in terms of plans, features and reliability. Read our articles about business VoIP services for more information.
Whether you're looking for a small business VoIP plan or one for an enterprise-level company, it's important to find a provider that will give your company the tools it needs in a calling plan. We looked at five aspects of business VoIP systems to identify the best companies. These criteria include the following: the service plan, calling features, additional features, network strength and support options.
The service plan is the most important aspect to consider when choosing a business VoIP provider. We examined contract lengths, customization of plans to suit your business' needs, allotted minutes for long-distance or international calls and reduction of prices for adding other users or extensions to an existing plan. The best products will let you choose from multiple service plans.
Since high quality VoIP services provide the usual calling tools such as voicemail, e911 service, call forwarding and call transfers, we focused on less common but extremely helpful business features. These include call queuing systems, mobile applications and additional numbers for your business.
Call queuing comes in several forms. ACD queues distribute calls evenly across the list of available employees, while hunt groups will ring certain employees first every time so that, for example, your employees who are best with customer service get the bulk of the calls. Virtual queuing is a great courtesy feature because it gives your caller the option to leave a message and hang up, knowing the system will send the message to the next available agent to call them back. We favored services with these features in our ranking.
These features are administrative in nature and add convenience as well as help with marketing. Online account management lets your administrators work all aspects of your VoIP account from the computer. Integration with Outlook lets users make calls by clicking on a button in their Contacts list. Some business VoIP services also integrate with other sales and contacts software, and we note these in our reviews. The best business VoIP services will also give you Call Logs and Advanced Call Analytics. These give you information on incoming and outgoing calls, including call locations, time of day and length of call. Call Logs are simply lists, while analytics put that data into graphical form. In both cases, you can use this information to make better choices on your business, whether to identify employees who might need more training on handling customers quickly or to determine where to spend more advertising dollars based on where your customers live.
The last thing you want when you're on an important call is to lose your connection. Business VoIP providers should have multiple server locations and a fully redundant network, so that your service continues even if something happens to part of their network. Top business VoIP providers also have Service Level Agreements. These agreements state the level of service that the company guarantees while you are under contract.
Help & Support
Problems with your phone service can mean dollars lost, so high quality customer support is a must. We looked at the availability of live customer support with each service, as well as online documentation and support. Both aspects are important to look for when you are choosing the best VoIP service provider for your business.
For our VoIP business reviews, we found the best providers on the market and rated their service plans, features, network reliability and customer service. We also noted some standout features that set them apart from other companies and that might address a particular need your business has. VoIP has come of age for phone communication, with great options and budget-supportive prices.