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Best business phone system of 2019

TechRadar logo TechRadar 11/07/2019 Brian Turner
a screenshot of a cell phone: MiCloud Business © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. MiCloud Business
Best business phone system

The days of complicated switchboard hardware and a desktop phone on every desk are over. New cloud-based solutions are now available, not least for VoIP phone solutions.

This means that any mobile device can now make and take calls through your office phone service. Often running as an app on your cell phone or tablet, this works as a softphone from which you can manage not just voice calls, but also work with email, messaging, video and conferencing, all through a single interface. 

Not only can this make it easier to organize your office telephony, it also allows employees to connect their own mobile devices to your telephone network using a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. No longer do workers have to be in or around the office to take calls, now they can be anywhere and on the go, or even working from home, yet still take and make phone calls through your business phone system.

Even better for business owners, this makes it easier to manage communications across the company, not just in terms of lines and extensions, but also using the latest technology for automated processes and predictive dialing to make the whole process easier. 

On top of that, cloud-based VoIP solutions offer unprecedented levels of analytics which doesn't simply allow you to maximize communications across your phone system, but also allows actionable insights into the customer journey and customer behavior, as well as making it simpler for sales and support to engage with customers.

Sometimes sold as Unified Communications, or as Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), these cloud-hosted VoIP solutions allow you to manage all communications across the company and its customer base much easier.

Here we feature the best in business phone system solutions for the busy modern office.

  • Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to desire.athow@futurenet.com with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.  

1. MiCloud Business

The standard bearer for Unified Communications

a screenshot of a social media post: Avaya IP Office © Provided by Future Publishing Ltd. Avaya IP Office

PROS:

+ Comprehensive features
+ Integrations
+ Good redundancy

CONS:

- Higher pricing

MiCloud Business by Mitel is a leading VoIP phone system for business. It allows you to run all your communications tools from the cloud as a unified solution. Voice, email, and messenger apps can all be accessed from a single contact center. This can be integrated with additional applications, not least CRM and SalesForce. As the service is spread around multiple datacenters this helps provide redundancy and keep the service working.

MiCloud Business comes with a number of features, not least local phone numbers with unlimited calls and portability, mobile twinning with hotdesk and auto-attendant, ring groups, call recording, and audio conferencing, along with a number of other features built in as standard. It also comes with analytics to make it easier to manage and streamline workflows and operations, resource planning, and system optimization. Of course, if you require hardware, Mitel can provide telephone systems that are preconfigured for the service, according to your business needs.

Overall, MiCloud Business delivers what you'd expect: a full-featured business phone system that allows for flexible working without cutting back on functionality. It's well-designed and has a good set of collaborative functions. The one  negative point is that the service tends to be priced a little higher than other providers.

2. Avaya IP Office

The cost-effective and scaleable VoIP suite

PROS:

+ Strong suite of features
+ Scaleable Unified Communications
+ Configured hardware options

Avaya IP Office offers a customized solution to cover all voice, text, messaging, and video in a single application that can be run either on premises, or in a private, public or hybrid cloud. This removes the problem of unnecessary IT complexity or integrations from running multiple applications, especially from multiple vendors. Even better, by using a centralized system using in-house messaging and video-conferencing can make team meetings and other communications much easier to use and apply across the business.

Even better is that Avaya IP Office can deliver a big business experience to smaller businesses, with a cost effective and scaleable solution that's easy to use and maintain. It also integrates with other major platforms, not least Salesforce, Google, Microsoft Office 365, and Skype for Business. There are different tiers available according to the service level needs of the business, number of users, and budget requirements. 

Avaya also supply a range of hardware to support the Unified Communications service, which is both scaleable and includes SIP or H.323 support, not least for business phones, multimedia devices, audio conferencing, network base stations, and headsets.

Overall, Avaya is an established brand with an IP-PBX service that has developed and evolved over the years to continue to deliver on the service that business needs.

3. Ooma Office

PROS:

+ Full featured system
+ Cheap pricing
+ No minimum contract

Ooma Office is the business version of the popular Ooma home phone service. Run in the cloud, Ooma Office is therefore simple and easy to set up and run with.

Although you can use your own hardware, if compatible, Ooma does offer a range of suitable hardware if required. Although this means extra upfront cost if needed, the benefit is that Ooma offers a lower monthly user fee than most other comparable services.

Pricing per user is a flat-fee of just $19.95 month, and although that might make Ooma sound like a budget service, it contains all the features you'd expect from a fully functional business VoIP service.

Additionally, Ooma advertising over 35 different features built into the service, including call holding, virtual receptionist, and call recording.

One of the more standout features is that there is no monthly contract, so this could make it especially attractive to start-ups who don't want to commit to multi-year contracts, as well as established businesses who also don't want to find themselves locked into a service they no longer want or need.

4. RingCentral

Easy to use yet powerful UCaaS

PROS:

+ Simple to use
+ Good compatibility
+ Many features

CONS:

- More expensive than some rivals

RingCentral is an all-in-one cloud platform for calls, audio conferencing, online fax, and SMS. It's a powerful but flexible system that allows you to use most any mobile device to run as a softphone, and there's good compatibility with a range of existing PBX phone hardware.

As expected, there is a comprehensive set of features included as standard, including call logging, monitoring, recording, and online faxing. It also offers HD voice and audioconferencing through mobile devices, as well as team collaboration through screen sharing and HD video for both tasks as well as video conferencing.

The central contact center features omnichannel routing, CRM integrations, agent management tools, as well as actionable analytics. There are also integrations available for a large number of apps, including SalesForce, Office 365, Zoho, Zendesk, Oracle and more.

Business plans start at $19.99 per user for the Essentials tier, with additional tiers available with a corresponding increase in both features and pricing. This can make RingCentral one of the more expensive options with regards to the market average, but the wealth of features and easy manageability make this a popular option for many customers.

5. Bitrix24

Powerful but versatile budget solution

PROS:

+ Advanced features, even on free tier
+ Lots of CRM functions and customizations
+ Very low price

Bitrix24 is an all-in-one communications solution run from the cloud, or via on-premises software. It packs in a lot of features than go beyond normal UCaaS, so while it can provide everything you'd expect from a business VoIP phone system, it also includes a lot more in terms of CRM and management capabilities. 

For example, it provides a range of call options as expected, along with intranet, chat, videoconferencing, all controlled from a single interface. However, it also provides calendars, document management, HR management, workgroups and projects, along with CRM and sales management. And as a cloud-hosted VoIP solution it also means employees with mobile devices can use them as softphones, not just to make calls, but also to use all of these additional features.

Workflows and CRM options are also very customizable, which makes Bitrix24 a lot more flexible than most of its rivals. The one negative to all this is that new users might be overwelcomed by the number of options available, though side menus can be collapsed to hide unused options.

What's perhaps more surprising is the price: Bitrix24 is free for up to 12 users, which can make it attractive to small businesses, especially when many advanced features are included as standard even at this level. Paid tiers are very reasonable, too, which usually come with additional app management and administrative account functions.

6. Aircall

VoIP call center and CRM solution

PROS:

+ Strong focus on CRM
+ Easy call center setup
+ Lots of integrations

Aircall is another cloud-hosted UCaaS solution, which can be set up with just a few clicks. This then provides your business with a complete communications center solution for calls, video, and messaging from the web, desktop, or mobile. 

Aircall also makes it very easy to set up a call center in minutes, and so includes a wide range of CRM, helpdesk, and productivity functions to both support this, as well as improve how your sales and support teams handle calls, not least in terms of transferring them as well as approaching customers. And, as expected, there's an analytics suite to help gauge efficiency and track KPIs in workflows and look for ways to improve them.

Because Aircall looks beyond unified communications and toward CRM solutions as well to better provide for sales and support teams, it also provides a large number of integrations, not least SalesForce, Zendesk, Hubspot, Zoho, Freshdesk, and Slack. 

Pricing starts at $30 per user per month for a limited set of features, with this rising to $50 per user per month to unlock the rest of Aircall's functions. However, note that a minimum of three users is required to operate this service.

a screenshot of a cell phone: Aircall

Aircall
© Provided by Future Publishing Ltd.
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