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How to choose the best VoIP business phone service

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In today’s digital world, VoIP is quickly becoming the preferred telecoms choice for home phone telephone systems and modern businesses alike. 

VoIP is a convenient, reliable, and cost-effective alternative to legacy phone systems. It’s no wonder that the world of VoIP is expanding rapidly, with new business VoIP service providers popping up regularly. 

With so many VoIP phone solutions out there, choosing the right service provider to suit your business needs can be challenging. Whether you’re searching for a small business VoIP solution or an enterprise alternative, it’s important to know what to look for. 

To help you choose the best business VoIP phone service provider, we’ll cover:

What is VoIP?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP, for short) is a technology that enables the transmission of multimedia content over Internet Protocol (IP) networks. When we talk about VoIP, we’re more often than not referring to voice and audio data; however, it is also the foundation of other forms of media transmission (such as video). 

VoIP is the main telephony component in top cloud business communications solutions, such as RingCentral. 

VoIP technology is used to facilitate phone calls and other telephony functions over the internet. Its users can make calls from any device with an internet connection, making it a more flexible and convenient option than traditional landline telephones.

How do VoIP phones work?

VoIP phone service works differently depending on what it’s connecting calls to—it can connect to other VoIP lines or traditional landlines.

VoIP works through a set of telephony protocols that use packet switching technology to convert analog voice signals to data packets. These data signals are then sent across the internet. Here’s how a VoIP call works, step by step:

  1. When someone speaks into the device (IP phone, softphone), voice signals are compressed into data packets that are then sent to the VoIP service provider.  
  2. The VoIP provider routes the data signals to the receiver (the person on the other end of the call). 
  3. The data packets are received and uncompressed, so what the receiver hears is sound again.
A diagram of how VoIP packet switching works

VoIP business phones vs. landline phones: What’s the difference?

What makes VoIP stand out as the preferred technology for business communications? To fully grasp the power of VoIP, we need to understand how it works in comparison to traditional phone systems. 

Traditional landline phones operate using a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). A landline telephone sends coded electricity pulses via copper wire phone lines to transmit soundwaves through a circuit switching method. 

Traditional business phone systems require business owners to configure an on-premises PBX that connects employees within a shared network. It requires a ton of hardware and a robust physical infrastructure to facilitate. Some key characteristics of traditional phones include:

  • High costs for on-premises hardware and maintenance.
  • Additional costs for hardware and service upgrades.
  • Dedicated physical phone lines.
  • High costs associated with international calling.

When businesses transition to a cloud PBX (also referred to as hosted PBX or virtual PBX), they no longer have to host software on a server in the same way analog systems do. Instead, cloud PBX phone systems host all of your data and software in the cloud. They use VoIP technology to facilitate the transmission of calls through internet connections.

Key features of VoIP phone services include:

  • Little to no on-premises hardware is required to facilitate a business VoIP phone.
  • Quick and easy to implement with low maintenance costs. 
  • Easy to add new phone numbers or repurpose existing ones.
  • New features can be added at little to no additional costs.

The key difference between landline phones and modern business VoIP phones is the technology required for the phones. Landline phones may have limited features, while VoIP phones are digital phones that can have features that can be enabled.

A landline office phone limits what your employees can do, allowing for only the most basic calling features; Internet phones, on the other hand,  allow for voice, video, and unlimited extensions that can empower your employees to communicate and collaborate effectively. 

If you’re looking for a solution that offers functionality across different office locations, mobile devices, and within the cloud, then VoIP is right for your business. Moreover, VoIP phones offer business benefits ranging from cost savings to increased flexibility.

An employee making  a VoIP call from his couch using his mobile phone

How to make a VoIP phone call

There are several different ways to make a VoIP phone call. The method you choose will depend on your specific business needs and the equipment available to you.

  • VoIP phones or internet protocol desk phones: These might look like regular landline phones, but VoIP desk phones are much more than that. These phones are connected to the internet with wi-fi or Ethernet cables and can be used to make voice calls. 
  • Softphones: Softphone solutions are available through mobile or desktop apps. It can be accessed through a special app or software that is provided by the VoIP provider. You’ll also need a computer microphone, as well as speakers or headphones. With a VoIP mobile app, users can also connect a business phone number to the device via their VoIP system. 
  • VoIP Analog Telephone Adapter (ATA): This solution allows you to use your existing phones for VoIP calls. The analog-to-digital adaptor transforms analog signals to digital signals, making it compatible with VoIP transmission.
A diagram of how VoIP can connect a call to any device inlcuding IP phones, mobile phones or laptops.

Key features of a business VoIP phone system

One of the best things about shifting from a traditional on-premises PBX to a VoIP business phone system is the array of advanced features they provide. Whether you’re running a call center or need a business VoIP system to connect your internal teams, these features are invaluable. 

When choosing between VoIP phone service providers, it’s important to consider which features you require:

  • Auto-attendant: This VoIP feature allows you to create custom greetings for customers and direct them towards the most appropriate extension or department. This tool also plays hold music while callers wait in the queue. 
  • Caller ID: Lets you know who’s calling by showing the caller’s name on the allow screen. This lets you better prepare before handling the call. 
  • Call management features: Advanced calling features like call forwarding, call recording, and call routing can streamline calls to reach the correct agent.  Call center or contact center management of incoming calls can be managed to  deliver better customer support, leading to better customer experiences. 
  • CRM integrations: Robust business VoIP systems offer integrations with tools like CRMs and other productivity apps. This includes popular business apps like  Salesforce, Zendesk, Office 365, and Google’s G-Suite.  
  • Business SMS messaging: Send unlimited business SMS text messages to customers’ mobile phones. This is a useful feature for appointment setting or sending reminders. 
  • Team messaging: Enhance team communication with instant messaging that allows you to chat in real-time, collaborate on projects, and share important files and documents. 
  • Unlimited calling: Business phone systems offer unlimited HD call quality phone calls to VoIP compatible devices, as well as audio conference calling for speaking to more than one person at once. Business owners can enjoy unlimited international calling to toll-free numbers through VoIP. 
  • Unlimited internet faxing: Send and receive unlimited faxes to clients and colleagues. 
  • Video conferencing: Hold high-quality video meetings between colleagues or clients. Video conference tools are typically part of UCaaS systems or contact center solutions and offer added features to enhance communication and collaboration like screen sharing and screen annotations. 
  • Virtual receptionist: This feature allows you to field incoming calls to resolve customer issues and needs efficiently. 
  • Voicemail-to-email: Get voicemail transcriptions sent directly to your email, so you can read your messages on the go.
A manager shifts from his VoIP call from one mobile phone to a video call on another mobile phone.

Advantages of a VoIP phone system

There are numerous advantages of switching from a legacy phone system to VoIP.

1. It can save you money.

Legacy phone systems require you to spend a lot up-front, and it becomes expensive (and difficult!) to make changes. VoIP solutions allow companies to save on costs related to:

  • Server infrastructure and hardware: With VoIP solutions, everything is hosted in the cloud. It removes the costs associated with implementing a physical infrastructure, hardware, and more. Moreover, they offer easy setup and require minimal up-front costs.
  • Adding phone numbers or services: VoIP allows you to adjust the number of users as your business grows, so you don’t have to pay to install new phone lines. Moreover, VoIP gives you access to a range of extra features and services that are expensive or unavailable with traditional phone systems. 
  • Long-distance calling: With VoIP, businesses can make international calls between VoIP-enabled devices, as well as use VoIP to make calls to local numbers at more affordable rates.  What’s more, VoIP allows users to make long-distance calls on a cell phone via a softphone app without incurring huge charges.

VoIP service for business solutions, too, are available at affordable prices. The cost of VoIP plans can vary depending on the size of your business and the extra communication and collaboration tools you require. 

An entrepreneur makes a VoIP call at home using his business phone number

2. It grows with your business.

VoIP communications solutions are completely scalable. This means that they grow with your business. 

As business phone systems are hosted and managed in the cloud, you can easily add or remove new users and phone numbers without incurring additional costs. This makes it easy to scale your solution to meet the demands of seasonal customer support spikes, new office locations, or remote teams.

  1. 3. It’s mobile-friendly. 

VoIP offers increased mobility for modern businesses. In today’s age of digital transformation, companies rely on technology to stay connected at all times, even on the go. 

VoIP services can be accessed from mobile phones (Android, iOS) using a dedicated softphone mobile app. This means employees can take voice calls, join video conferences, and message team members from any internet-connected device. 

As business environments become increasingly reliant on globally dispersed teams and remote employees, communications systems must keep users connected no matter where they’re located. As a small business, increased mobility gives you the power to run your business from a smartphone.

A business owner making VoIP call while sipping coffee

  1. 4. VoIP offers better security and business continuity.

Business VoIP solutions are managed by third-party service providers who take care of all your security concerns. Take RingCentral, for example. Users are protected with seven layers of enterprise-grade security across physical, network, host, data, and business processes. 

As business VoIP solutions are hosted in the cloud, they offer enhanced business continuity. This means your important business data is secure even in the event of a natural disaster or power outage.

  1. 5. It gives you access to a range of powerful features.

In today’s competitive landscape, shifts in technology and consumer demands are shaping the business world. 

Empowering your team with enterprise-grade business VoIP features will enable them to perform to the best of their abilities and bring you one step closer to achieving your business goals. Unified communications systems enable teams to collaborate and communicate effectively with features like:

  • Audio conferencing
  • Video conference calls
  • Team messaging
A team meeting with each other remotely via RingCentral Video

How to choose the best business VoIP provider for your business

  1. Choosing the best business VoIP system can be challenging. How do you decide which provider can best serve your needs? Business VoIP solutions come in different shapes and sizes. Below are some of the main forms of business VoIP.

  • Small-medium business (SMB) VoIP: There are many VoIP solutions available for SMBs to help them transition from analog phone systems. These solutions offer basic VoIP telephony functionality and can be scaled to grow with your business.  
  • Enterprise VoIP: Enterprise VoIP solutions allow for larger deployments to facilitate more traffic and hosted voice. Enterprise solutions offer an extensive range of advanced features as well as enterprise-grade security and uptime. 
  • Unified Communications (UC): UC platforms integrate voice, video, and messaging into a single service. UC is an ideal choice for businesses seeking to improve productivity and enhance internal collaboration. 
  • Contact center functionality: UC providers often offer contact center solutions as a fully integrated platform for managing inbound and outbound calls, with added features like: 
    • Agent management
    • Skills-based routing
    • Live chat

  1. Below are some considerations to help you make the right decision.

  1. 1. What features do you need?

Modern business VoIP solutions offer an array of telephony features and collaboration tools to streamline business operations. Ask yourself which ones your business needs. For example, do you require advanced call management features, video conferencing functionality, or third-party app integrations? 

A unified communications system like RingCentral is ideal for small businesses and large enterprises alike. RingCentral allows you to tailor your communications platform to suit your needs. With access to integrated voice, video, and team messaging, RingCentral empowers your team with everything they need to communicate and collaborate effectively and productively.

  1. 2. Do you require mobile accessibility?

Another important aspect of the VoIP solution you choose is whether or not it offers a robust mobile app. As we become more accustomed to the world of remote work, business owners should weigh up the benefits of mobile accessibility in a VoIP communications service. 

RingCentral offers a mobile-ready UC solution that can be accessed from any internet-connected device. You can sign in from your Windows or Mac desktop computer or an iPhone or Android mobile device using the RingCentral App. Moreover, RingCentral allows you to switch seamlessly between devices for a truly mobile communications experience.

The interface of RingCentral App, which allows you to make VoIP calls from your laptop or your mobile phone

  1. 3. What’s your budget?

The final thing to consider when choosing a VoIP service provider is the pricing they offer. Outline your budget and consider the features you need to find the most appropriate solution to suit your needs. 

VoIP solutions are much more affordable than managing and maintaining traditional phone systems. VoIP plans are typically available on a monthly basis. The top providers offer a range of plans to suit the needs of start-ups, SMBs, and enterprises. 

RingCentral is the number one business communications solution. Businesses can choose from four different plans, and pricing depends on accessible features. RingCentral’s pricing plan includes:

  • Essentials: Message, phone, and more. 
  • Standard: Message, phone, video, open APIs, and more. 
  • Premium: Message, phone, video, open APIs, single sign-on, real-time analytics, and more.
  • Ultimate: Everything else, plus device status reports and alerts and unlimited storage.

Enhance your business communications with RingCentral

As we move into an age of digital transformation, VoIP phone systems are becoming increasingly advanced. They provide businesses with all the tools they need to communicate and collaborate effectively and efficiently. 

Choosing the right VoIP solution requires businesses to fully understand their needs and how they align with the key features of business phone systems. Implementing a UC solution like RingCentral will empower your team with integrated messaging, phone, video, and a range of collaboration tools to streamline business operations and boost productivity.

Want to know more about what RingCentral can do for your business? Sign up for a free trial and take RingCentral for a test drive today.

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