SOHO phone system options: What’s the best for your business?
Phone calls have always been a part of business communications. From the invention of the telephone to the development of various communication tools, companies continue to take advantage of telephony for both employee and customer conversations.
It’s why every business owner—whether they’re running an SMB or enterprise—should prioritize finding the right phone system that can streamline internal and external communications.
If you’re currently running a small office or home office (SOHO), there are different factors that you should consider when choosing a business phone system, such as your office space, your number of employees, etc.
Keeping that in mind, let’s now look at your options and find out which office phone system is most suitable for you.
SOHO Phone System Options
Landline phone service
This traditional phone system has been around for decades. The Plain Old Telephone System (POTS) or Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) enables phone calls by transmitting analog voice data via copper wires.
With its long history, it’s no surprise that landline phones are still present in many business offices today. In fact, even households have active landline phone services.
One reason is that the telephone remains a helpful tool for making and receiving calls. However, take note that it runs with old, outdated infrastructure.
Choosing a landline phone service as your business phone system requires you to buy equipment like desk phones, telephone cables, and adapters. You’ll also need traditional Private Branch Exchange (PBX) hardware to add more features to your typical telephone system.
Here are some of the common PBX calling features and capabilities:
- Call forwarding
- Call blocking
- Call waiting
- Call routing
- Automatic call distribution (ACD)
- Interactive voice response (IVR)
In the past, PBX phone systems needed a human operator to connect and manage calls within the company’s internal telephone network. The good news is that they’re automated now, so you’ll probably hear other people using the term PABX or Private Automated Branch Exchange.
As mentioned, this SOHO phone system option involves a lot of hardware, so you can expect high maintenance costs. You’ll also need to hire your own IT staff to fix issues immediately.
Without an in-house team, you’ll have to wait for your telecom provider to send a technician over to handle even simple tasks like cabling problems.
Mobile phone service
Mobile phones or cell phones are wireless telephones. They use radio waves to transmit and receive digitized voice data.
Instead of copper wires, phone calls are connected via cell towers or cellular base stations. Using a mobile phone service will give you and your employees mobility, so you can answer customer calls outside of the office.
However, you’ll lose out on advanced calling features. Another thing to take note of is the reliability of the wireless connection.
Natural disturbances and other factors can disrupt radio transmissions and cause busy signals and dropped calls. There are also dead zones or areas where you can’t receive a cell signal.
If you’re considering this option for your SOHO phone system, you’ll have to provide your staff with company-issued mobile phones to ensure that critical business calls are not mixed with personal calls.
With this setup, your employees will have to carry around two devices—their personal phone and work phone. This can cause inconvenience for them.
Some companies allow their employees to use their personal phones for work-related calls. But following this example can put your business at risk.
Being professional builds your reputation, and giving out personal phone numbers of your employees to your clients is far from that.
VoIP phone service
VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol is a technology that has revolutionized how modern businesses handle audio calls today. Also known as IP telephony, it allows companies to make and receive phone calls using the Internet.
Internet-based calling is popular with consumers as well since there are many VoIP softphones or apps available that they can use for free. Some social media sites even have a built-in audio calling feature, so users worldwide can talk and hear each other during a conversation.
With internet connectivity available almost everywhere, many people find VoIP calls convenient. Free Wi-Fi in public places also makes it easy to go online and call someone wherever they are.
Anywhere access is a huge advantage for companies as it helps keep their employees and customers connected. This is one of the reasons why a VoIP phone service is a better option than a landline or mobile phone service.
Business VoIP offers a full set of advanced features at a lower price. If you choose to implement cloud-hosted VoIP instead of on-premise, you’ll only have to pay a fixed cost.
It’s because cloud-hosted VoIP providers like RingCentral use a subscription-based pricing model. Also, with this setup, your VoIP provider will handle everything for you, including hardware maintenance, system updates, upgrades, and security.
To manage internal and external calls over the internet, IP PBX/VoIP PBX is hosted by your VoIP provider. This private telephone network is also used to switch calls between analog phone users and VoIP phone users.
Another great thing about having a VoIP phone system is that you don’t have to throw away your existing analog phones. You can still use them to make internet calls by connecting to a device called Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA) or VoIP adapter.
If you prefer to use IP-enabled devices, you can use your mobile phone, laptop, computer, or tablet. There are also different types of IP phones, handsets, and headsets
There are many other ways your company can benefit from IP telephony. To help you understand better, let’s discuss what you can get from RingCentral’s business phone solution.
What is RingCentral VoIP?
As one of the industry-leading providers of VoIP services, RingCentral developed a secure and reliable cloud-hosted virtual phone service to empower your workforce, improve your customer service, and help your organization communicate better.
See the table below to check out some of the calling features designed to give you a flexible SOHO phone system:
|Local phone numbers||Pick a RingCentral local number from any US location so that local customers can reach you. We have more than 200 area codes available to help you establish a virtual local presence.|
|Toll-free and vanity numbers||Make your contact phone number more memorable with a custom vanity 1-800 number. Connect with more customers by letting them call your business free of charge.|
|Virtual extensions||Easily assign virtual phone extensions for departments and individual employees without the need for physical cables and other hardware.|
|Call delegation||Give your admin assistants a more efficient way to handle multiple calls and manage a high volume of call transfers.|
|Call screening||Take full control over who can call your business. You’ll have the choice to accept or decline a call, send it to voicemail, and block specific numbers.|
|Call forwarding||Be available 24/7 and never miss a call from your customers by automatically forwarding phone calls to any phone number—your office, home, or even your personal mobile number.|
|Call park||Put concurrent inbound and outbound calls on hold so that anyone in your organization can take the call. RingCentral allows you to park up to 50 concurrent calls.|
|Call flip||Switch devices seamlessly without dropping the call. You can flip a call from your desk phone, mobile phone, or desktop to another device.|
|Shared lines||Pick up calls on multiple phone devices with one shared phone number. This feature eliminates the need for call transfers.|
|Answering rules||Apply different rules to different numbers. Route calls automatically to any phone — your personal cell phone, home phone, or office phone — or send them straight to voicemail.|
|Voicemail-to-email||Send voicemail messages as attachments to your email so that you can listen to the audio file or read the message as text in the body of the email anywhere, anytime.|
|Visual voicemail||Use the RingCentral app to listen, read, delete, or forward voicemail messages or return calls. This feature helps you manage voicemails and prioritize your response according to caller ID, date, and duration of the voicemail.|
|RingOut||Make calls from any phone or Internet-enabled device with just one click. Choose and click any number in your RingCentral online account — contacts, messages, and call logs|
|Presence and head-up display||Reduce hold times & hang-ups and transfer calls efficiently by checking your team’s presence status—Available, Invisible, and Do Not Disturb.|
|Greetings||Establish a professional image for your company by using recorded phone greetings. RingCentral has partnered with voice recording industry specialists to help you.|
|Music on hold||Encourage callers to stay on the line by keeping them entertained with your own selection of music and messages.|
|Multi-level IVR||Expand your auto attendant by creating flexible phone tree menus with an intuitive graphical editor.|
|Dial-by-name directory||Let callers search your company directory using your employees' first or last name so that they can find who they’re looking for and talk to the right person immediately.|
|Call logs||Keep a complete record of all incoming and outgoing business phone calls.|
|Automatic call recording||Automatically record inbound and outbound calls for review and playback.|
|Caller ID||Display your company name when making calls, and view Caller ID information from received calls.|
|Call monitoring||Monitor calls in real-time to provide coaching for your staff and help improve their performance. You can listen, whisper instructions, or take over the call if you need to.|
|Number porting||Keep your existing business phone number even after switching to RingCentral from a different communications service provider.|
RingCentral MVP: UCaaS for Small Businesses
With RingCentral, your business communication platform won’t be limited to telephony functionality only. As a unified communication as a service (UCaaS) provider, we offer an integrated communications solution—RingCentral MVP— that combines messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls into one unified platform.
There are four RingCentral MVP plans available to choose from:
Take note that features vary depending on your chosen plan. That’s why it’s important that you assess which features are critical to your business.
Once you’ve decided on which plan to subscribe to, you can pay the subscription fee either monthly or annually. If you want to save up to 33%, go for the annual billing option.
For better team communication and collaboration, you can access all of the features from an all-in-one app. The RingCentral App for mobile and desktop allows your team to work from anywhere on any device.
Here are some of the notable app features that can help you improve employee productivity, build stronger customer relationships, and streamline workflows:
- Team messaging - Create a group chat with team members to communicate in real-time. You can also create and assign tasks, upload files, pin a post, and more in the message thread.
- Unlimited video meetings - Host team meetings, client meetings, and virtual events using our built-in video conferencing tool. Enhance meeting experience with features like screen sharing, chat, call recording, virtual backgrounds, live transcription, breakout rooms, and more.
- Unlimited audio conferencing - Invite your employees, clients, and other stakeholders into an audio conference. You can have up to 1,000 attendees per conference.
- Unlimited internet fax - Send and receive faxes online from your phone and computer.
- Business SMS - Send and receive unlimited texts to teammates and customers using your RingCentral business phone number.
- Document sharing - Upload and share files directly from the RingCentral app. It’s very easy and convenient because you can just drag and drop a file from your device into any team chat.
- 200+ app integrations - Some of our popular integrations include Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Slack, SalesForce, Oracle, Zendesk, and more. With these RingCentral integrations, you won’t have to jump between applications to do your tasks.
- 24/7 customer support - Whenever you need assistance, you can use the live chat to ask questions and get replies instantly.