More and more companies are turning to VoIP for their business communication needs. By 2020, the VoIP market was worth over $30 billion, and it could reach $95 billion by 2027. VoIP telephony is affordable and scalable, making it perfect for small businesses.
Because VoIP doesn’t depend on a physical location, it’s ideal for remote working. Teams can reach customers all over the world and collaborate on projects from anywhere, or in the office. For instance, 64% of small businesses added VoIP in 2020, and 85% said it made their teams more connected.
With so many VoIP providers to choose from, how do you know you’re getting the best deal? In this article, we’ll look at how to choose the best VoIP service provider for your business.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP calls (sometimes known as WiFi calls) are phone or video calls made over the internet. All you need is a broadband internet connection and a device that can connect to it, like a PC or mobile phone.
Most VoIP phone service providers offer a desktop or mobile app. These apps work on a range of devices, including PC, Mac, iOS and Android. VoIP comes with a range of standard and advanced features, such as:
- Audio and video conferencing
- Call recording, forwarding and monitoring
- Advanced call routing
- Integration with CRM software
- Real-time call tracking
- Auto-attendant software
- On-hold music and messaging
Some businesses also add specialist hardware like a PC handset to make their system more efficient.
VoIP vs landline
The main downside of using VoIP as your business phone system is its reliance on the internet. If the internet goes down, so too does your ability to use your VoIP service. VoIP can also be more vulnerable to spam calls than a traditional phone service. Luckily, VoIP providers like RingCentral come with caller ID, call blocking and advanced security.
A major benefit of a VoIP phone system is its cost. VoIP can be as much as 50% to 75% cheaper than a landline. This is especially true for businesses that make lots of international calls and switching to VoIP may lower the cost of local phone calls by up to 40%.
Other benefits of VoIP are:
- Flexibility. You can access your VoIP phone in the office or at home. In fact, flexible working is why 40% of small businesses switch to VoIP.
- Scalability. You can add new users without expensive hardware, so it’s easy to scale your VoIP system as your business grows.
- Advanced features. Such as call forwarding, conference calling and other features not available with a traditional phone.
- Simplicity. 55% of small businesses switch to VoIP to simplify communications at their business. Most VoIP providers let you keep your existing phone number.
How does VoIP work?
A VoIP phone performs more functions than a traditional phone system. With VoIP, you can make phone calls and access advanced features. Instead of connecting calls by switching circuits, VoIP systems convert audio into digital signals. These signals are sent as small data packets over an IP network.
Calling a VoIP phone number involves the same steps as calling a landline or mobile number. Businesses can have a freephone number to connect with customers all over the world. The only difference is that a VoIP number isn’t linked to a phone line or SIM card, but to a user account.
How to select the best cheap VoIP service provider
When choosing a VoIP service provider, you need to know what your business needs are. Once you’ve found VoIP providers that can meet those needs, there’s a range of factors to consider.
Businesses need a VoIP provider that offers a balance between cost and features. There is a load of free VoIP services like Skype and Microsoft Teams. But these free services are also basic plans, so are best for personal rather than business use.
Paid services range from low-cost to high-end, and are usually priced per user. So, if you have a large team, you’ll have to pay more. You’ll also have to pay extra for advanced features and international calls.
Pricing includes setup costs, maintenance costs and the cost of upgrades and training. These costs vary between providers, so you should look into them before choosing a service.
Reliability and VoIP call quality
Cost isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a VoIP service provider. You also need to look at VoIP call quality and reliability. Some providers prioritise call quality, while others prioritise speed. Good VoIP providers give you a trial period, so you can see if their priorities match yours.
Also, you should look at how reliable the VoIP service is. Does the provider have a backup plan in case of disasters or outages? What happens if your service goes down? If you find yourself in such a situation, RingCentral comes with 24/7 customer support and redundant data centres.
Ease of VoIP setup
It’s best to choose a VoIP provider with a simple setup process. For example, you can activate the RingCentral VoIP in minutes. Setting up a softphone app is a good option as it lets you make and receive calls on your devices immediately.
You also need to think about whether you can complete the setup and activation yourself. After all, paying for a specialist engineer or extra hardware adds to your costs.
A great way to assess the quality of a VoIP service provider is to look at customer reviews. After all, you don’t want to choose a cheap provider if lots of people complain about them. So, look at online review sites and social media. There are also blogs and websites that compare the top VoIP providers. You could also talk to other business owners who already use VoIP about what their provider is like.
Easy scalability for your business
Even if you’re a business that’s just starting out, you should think about how scalable your VoIP service is. How easy is it to add new mobile devices or users? Does the provider have an online dashboard? An online dashboard means you can add a new user or functionality with just a click.
VoIP phones & PBX compatibility
Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems connect desk phones within one internal network. How easy is it to integrate new VoIP solutions with existing PBX services? VoIP providers like RingCentral provide cloud-based PBX systems, but other providers may have different solutions. Choose a provider that lets you manage all your services in one unified portal.
RingCentral as your cost effective VoIP service provider
RingCentral is a great all-round option and provides the following popular business VoIP features:
- Video software
- AI capabilities
- Integrated phone and messaging
- Collaboration tools
- A company directory
- Call forwarding, recording and routing
- Integration with popular CRM tools like Salesforce
Benefits of Using RingCentral
There are many benefits of choosing RingCentral over other VoIP providers. One benefit is the lower price. For instance, its Essentials plan is priced at only £7.99 per user/month. This plan comes with messaging, document sharing, and 24/7 customer support, so it’s great for a small business. There are also Standard, Premium and Ultimate pricing plans that include unlimited calling and other advanced features.
|£7.99 per user/month
|£9 per user/month
|£10 per user/month
|£12 per user/month
|$19.95 (£14.74) per user/month
|£13.56 per user/month
The scalability of RingCentral’s VoIP systems is another benefit. Using an API, you can scale RingCentral’s VoIP services into a unified communications system. There, you can manage all your advanced features and services. The 99.999% uptime means you don’t have to worry about outages disrupting your work day.
RingCentral is compatible with all your devices, so whether you’re home in the UK or away in Australia, you can access its services. All you need is an internet connection.
Lower cost doesn’t mean nasty
VoIP systems have many advantages over traditional phone systems. But how do you choose the best cheap VoIP provider? You should only look at price, of course, but also factors like call quality and scalability.
RingCentral is an example of a VoIP provider that gives great service at an affordable price. But whichever provider you choose, make sure you get all the benefits of VoIP for your business.
Originally published Apr 14, 2022, updated Jun 10, 2022