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Best business phone system of 2019: telecoms solutions for SMEs

Business phone system
(Image credit: Pexels)
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 [email protected] with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.  

MiCloud Business

(Image credit: Mitel)

1. MiCloud Business

The standard bearer for Unified Communications

Comprehensive features
Integrations
Good redundancy
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.

Avaya OneCloud

(Image credit: Avaya)

2. Avaya OneCloud

The cost-effective and scaleable VoIP suite

Strong suite of features
Scaleable Unified Communications
Configurable options

Avaya OneCloud is the latest unified communications offering from Avaya, succeeding the previously successful IP Office platform and expanding its current Avaya IX Workplace and Contact Center range.

The service aims to create a truly scaleable solution using whichever cloud solution you're most comfortable with. For small and medium-sized businesses that are happy to rely on third-party suppliers, Avaya OneCloud can easily run through a public cloud, meaning that you receive continuous service and don't have to concern yourself with software upgrades or IT buy-ins.

For enterprise companies that already have a private or hybrid cloud service, a standard Avaya OneCloud can be setup, or else a customization solution according to needs under the OneCloud ReadyNow service. There's the option of setting up any required server hardware on premises, or else host it in one of Avaya's datacenters.

Of course, Avaya OneCloud is more than just calls, and as a unified communications solution it means integrating all communications channels into a single system.

While the product name may have changed, Avaya have a solid track record in their expanded VoIP and UC service provisions, and the sheer scaleability of the OneCloud solution has to be attractive.

Ooma Office

(Image credit: Ooma Office)

3. Ooma Office

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.

RingCentral

(Image credit: RingCentral)

4. RingCentral

Easy to use yet powerful UCaaS

Simple to use
Good compatibility
Many features
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.

Aircall

(Image credit: Aircall)

5. Aircall

VoIP call center and CRM solution

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.