By Lars Lofgren
It only took small holes to sink the Titanic.
Similarly, even the smallest details like an outdated phone system can spell doom for your business.
Calls going missing, forwarded calls ending up in the abyss, and important calls getting dropped for no reason. All these can snowball into something disastrous.
Before you know it, you have disgruntled customers switching to competitors and disorganized employees struggling to keep tabs on each other.
To stop your business from sinking further, I’ve researched the most dependable office phone systems and whittled them down to a select few. These outstanding companies will meet your every need whether you’re installing a new phone system, replacing an old one, or upgrading an existing phone service solution.
Let’s get the ball rolling.
The Top 6 Best Office Phone Systems
No one phone system provider will serve all types of companies. Know your needs and priorities and use this guide to point you in the right direction. Already picked a potential winner? Look through the reviews below to help finalize your decision.
#1 – Nextiva — Best for Growing Businesses
- Built-in CRM + integration
- Great for conference calls
- Scalable plans
- Team chat on mobile app
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Leaving a platform you’ve outgrown is a waste of precious time. But with Nextiva, you’ll never have to switch to a new provider because everything you need to grow is under one roof.
Unlike other cloud-based phone service providers, Nextiva steps ahead of the competition by offering a built-in CRM in its platform. This is perfect for growing businesses that want to manage their sales pipeline and phone system without juggling different software applications.
There’s also an option to integrate Nextiva’s phone service with a third-party CRM, so you’re still free to explore what works best for your business.
Nextiva has a mobile app you can install on your iOS or Android devices to make and receive calls, chat with your co-workers, or make video calls anywhere without being tied to your desk. If you’re leaving a rigid phone service plan but with existing local or toll-free numbers you want to keep, Nextiva will help you transfer them to your new platform for an affordable fee.
Do you regularly hold conference calls? Nextiva makes it possible with its conference bridge feature. However, the number of users that can participate depends on the service plan you’re subscribed to.
For example, the basic plan only allows four users, so only choose this if you have a limited workforce. Meanwhile, both professional and enterprise plans can accommodate 40 and an unlimited number of participants, respectively.
To get the most out of its unified communication solution, Nextiva can also connect you with a trainer who can provide assistance through a webinar, on-site training, or even one-on-one training with your company’s representative.
All of Nextiva’s service plans give you access to unlimited online fax service, automated attendant, customizable hold music, unlimited local and long-distance calling, and voicemails that can go straight to your inbox so you won’t have to check them manually.
The four plans Nextiva offers are:
- Essential: Starting at $18.95 per user per month
- Professional: Starting at $22.95 per user per month
- Enterprise: Starting at $32.95 per user per month
- Ultimate: From $57.95 per user per month
If you want a VoIP provider that will provide you with the tools and integration to make your company’s growth spurt more comfortable, Nextiva will not disappoint.
#2 – Ooma Office — Best for Solopreneurs and Very Small Businesses
- SMB-friendly pricing
- Easy implementation
- Virtual receptionist
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Ooma Office handpicked only the most essential features so you can set up your phone system at an affordable rate.
Whether you’re a sole proprietor managing your business from home or a microbusiness with limited funds, you can have access to all Ooma Office features for as low as $19.95 per user per month.
On top of that, installation only involves a plug and play device so you can set up the entire phone system quickly without any technical training.
Despite its cost, Ooma Office is not one to be underestimated.
The basic plan includes a mobile app so you can make or receive calls straight from your smartphone wherever you are. It also works with any phone type, whether it’s an IP or analog, although the latter requires onsite equipment before processing telephone calls through the cloud.
Through the app, you can also transfer calls, send faxes online, and host a conference call with up to 10 callers at a time. In case you miss a call, Ooma Office will send you the voicemail audio as an email attachment so you can listen to it and make the necessary follow-up.
Ooma Office also has a virtual receptionist to properly route the callers to the right employees they need to talk to. To make sure all important calls get attended even while you’re working remotely, you can also activate Multi-Ring, so your multiple devices will ring simultaneously when an Ooma Office number calls.
Should you prefer more elbow room as your small business grows, it’s simple to upgrade to Ooma Office Pro for $24.95 per user per month. This plan has all the basic features of Ooma Office plus a desktop app, call recording, video conferencing, and other advanced features.
If you’re sick of dealing with obnoxious telemarketers and scammers, Ooma Office Pro can weed them out through enhanced call blocking. If you’re an insurance agent or someone who needs evidence of each transaction, Ooma Office Pro can also record calls and keep them so you’ll have peace of mind.
Ooma Office may be at the lower end of the price tier, but its features provide the best value for your money.
#3 – Grasshopper — Best for Remote Offices & Mobile Workforces
- Great for dispersed teams
- Easy forwarding & screening
- Excellent mobile app
- User-friendly interface
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If you’re a small virtual company that wants to exude the same professionalism of a large corporation (without pretending to be one), Grasshopper has got you covered.
For as low as $26 a month, you can have a customized business phone number with three extensions. VoIP powers the company, so no need to install anything other than an app on your mobile phone and desktop computer.
From this app, you’ll have access to an array of features that enable you to set up a professional-sounding call center no matter how small your team is.
You can create a customized greeting yourself or get professional voice talent for a small upcharge. Never let your callers get bored while waiting by having personalized music for those on hold available when you set up extensions.
Since you’re using your personal mobile phone to answer business calls, you can bring your office with you wherever you go, whether you’re an independent contractor working from home or a field agent who is always on the road.
The Grasshopper icon shows up with each incoming call, so it’s easy to separate business calls from personal ones.
Don’t worry about blurring the line between business hours and your private time, as voicemail is activated to let your callers know when your business is closed. The virtual operator also helps you filter those who are calling your number so you can ditch scammers and annoying telemarketers who used to hound you through the landline.
Too busy to receive calls? Don’t let your clients feel neglected by forwarding the call to one of your team members. You can also screen calls, let Grasshopper answer the non-urgent ones, and receive a call transcript straight to your inbox so you can get back to them as soon as you’re available.
With a user interface that even non-tech-savvy people will find easy to navigate, you can manage your account without any hassle.
It may not have all the bells and whistles that bigger companies need, but Grasshopper has the simplicity to help smaller enterprises thrive.
Grasshopper offers three pricing plans:
- Solo: $26 per month for one phone number and three extensions
- Partner: $44 per month for three phone numbers and six extensions
- Small Business: $80 per month for five phone numbers and unlimited extensions
You can also try a commitment-free seven-day free trial of Grasshopper.
#4 – GoToConnect — Most Feature-rich Office Phone System for SMBs
- Part of the GoToMeeting family
- VoIP + UCaaS solution
- Integrates with tons of apps
- Powerful call analytics
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GoToConnect (formerly Jive) is a rebel in the industry.
It doesn’t follow the trend of restricting the features so that subscribers are compelled to pay more. Instead, GoToConnect gives all users access to nearly everything.
GoToConnect is a VoIP provider offering a unified communication system, so the features you’ll have access to are not limited to voice communication tools. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of audio and video conferencing services, all of which can be accessed through a web portal where you can log in using any internet-connected device.
Among the 80+ features accessible through the GoToConnect app is the call routing feature that allows you to schedule business opening and closing hours so your clients won’t disturb you when you’re not working. There’s also a Dial Plan Editor where you can view and edit call flows to improve how you and your team get things done.
If your company has multiple teams or offices scattered around the country or the world, you’ll appreciate GoToConnect’s free local and long-distance calling. This phone system provider also stands out for offering call center features like day-to-day call analytics that help you analyze how your employees work and explore areas for improvement.
GoToConnect also integrates seamlessly with a lot of third-party apps loved by businesses of any size like Zoho CRM, Slack, Outlook, Salesforce, just to name a few.
The pricing varies based on how many employees you have. The more users, the less you’ll pay per person.
For instance, a company with 50 to 90 users will pay $19.95 monthly per user, while a microbusiness with only one to four users will pay a relatively higher fee of $29.95 per user per month.
Their services are compatible with more than 180 desk phone models. You can also buy pre-configured desk phones from them for $75 to $800 each.
Whether you want to make and receive calls, hold call conferences, send faxes online, transfer calls, or customize hold music, GoToConnect has all the features that other providers don’t offer without additional cost.
#5 – 8×8 X Series — Best for Small & Midsize Businesses with Multiple Locations
- Office communications from anywhere
- Centralized UCaaS platform
- Intelligent call routing
- Ring groups for separate teams
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8×8 bridges the communication gap between multiple offices.
It has an app users can install on their mobile phones so they can receive calls anywhere without clients knowing their exact location. 8×8 offers video, chat, and voice communication under a centralized platform so remote workers using the app can function as if they’re in the office.
Furthermore, purchasing any of the 8×8 X Series plans (formerly Virtual Office) gives you access to the global dial plan. With this feature, you can have unlimited calls with anyone from up to 47 international locations.
The X2 edition costs $24 monthly per user but only offers unlimited calls to only 14 countries. However, the features available in this plan like call forwarding, ring groups, advanced auto-attendants, call recordings, and unlimited faxing are more than enough to meet the needs of small businesses.
Most notable of these features is the ring group, which enables multiple phones to ring when a number or extension is dialed. As a result, customers experience less hold time, and employees improve their productivity.
Everything is also cloud-based, so small to midsize businesses don’t have to worry about installing hardware on premise and hiring an IT staff to do all the maintenance.
Should you need unlimited calls to more international locations, the X4 edition can meet your needs. With a price tag of $44 per user per month, you can call anyone from 47 countries and have access to advanced call center features like call quality reporting and supervisory analytics.
If your office doesn’t have multiple locations and only requires basic phone services, you can also opt for the Express plan for $12 per user per month.
Large enterprises that need a dedicated call center to better serve their customers can also combine the phone system with 8×8’s Virtual Contact Center. However, the price starts to get steep at this point, so large companies may be better off installing a more cost-efficient in-house VoIP.
#6 – MiVoice Business by Mitel — Best On-Premise Office Phone System for Large Businesses
- UCaaS built for enterprise
- Dedicated hardware options
- Powerful central console
- Add-ons for collaboration & customer service
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MiVoice Business offers a flexible unified communication solution that businesses of considerable size can shape according to their will.
Adapting to the market’s ever-changing demands, Canadian vendor Mitel offers MiVoice Business either on-premise or as a cloud-based solution to large enterprises with up to 65,000 users.
If you prefer dedicated hardware, you can get the Mitel 3300 server and run an on-premise phone system the old-fashioned way. You can also virtualize everything using a VMware or Microsoft Hyper server so you can run the MiVoice Business straight from your computer.
The MiVoice Business Console gives you access to a wide array of features like screen-based call handling, transfer assistance, call answering priority, incoming call lists, and many more.
To fully appreciate Mitel’s unified communication solution, you can also take advantage of the MiCollab application suite, which is separate from the MiVoice Business Console and can be accessed through PC, Android, iOS, or Windows phones.
With MiCollab, it’s easy to see who called, view important messages, and connect with others who use MiCollab or even those who do not.
Then there’s the MiContact Center Business, which allows you to connect with customers via phone, chat, or email like a full-blown call center would. The chat feature comes in handy while you’re on the line with a customer who previously talked to another agent. There’s also a note feature that can show you the agents who are in or out of the office so you can help customers requesting a specific agent.
Robust and available to use in multiple platforms, MiVoice Business can also be integrated with a wide range of third-party business applications like Salesforce and Microsoft.
MiVoice Business may not be ideal for small businesses, but it excels in providing larger enterprises with a scalable, mobile, and unified communication solution that makes their employees and customers happy.
MiVoice pricing is not listed on their site publicly, but you can easily contact their sales team via phone, chat, or email here.
How to Find The Best Office Phone System For You
Shopping for a phone system requires a little bit of knowledge of how office telephony works. But the bottom line is you need to choose one that is in line with what your company needs and can afford, as well as how it will grow with you. Let the following parameters be your guide before you make a decision.
1. What type of phone system are you looking for?
Office phone systems are either hosted or installed on-premise.
It’s the difference between an online fax service and an old-fashioned fax machine. One is delivered via the cloud thereby eliminating the need for the equipment, the traditional fax machine is physically there, bulky, and requires periodic maintenance.
The cloud-hosted phone system, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP, delivers phone services over the internet.
They also take care of the hardware and maintenance so you won’t have to hire an in-house IT team to maintain it. All you have to do is activate the plug and play handsets and control everything from your computer.
For a monthly subscription fee, VoIP also gives you access to a host of features perfect for small to midsize businesses. These include voicemail-to-email, video conferencing, call recording, hold music, auto-attendants, and more.
However, since voice communication is made through the internet, companies using VoIP are at the mercy of their internet service providers. You need to make sure there’s sufficient bandwidth allocated for telephone calls and that the router is set properly so voice communication is prioritized over other types of online use.
Large companies with over 100 users and those who already have a traditional phone system in place mostly prefer on-premise PBX.
Private Branch Exchange or PBX provides the functionality of a phone system, and you have more control over the phone connection so it’s not subject to the whims of an internet service provider.
The downside is you need the help of internal IT specialists to maintain and upgrade your infrastructure.
Despite the benefits of an on-premise PBX, some large companies with stable internet connection still opt for cloud-hosted VoIP. It is cost-effective and easy to configure, especially for companies with multiple offices.
Most large companies also have employees who are always on the field so phones that are connected to the cloud are becoming more indispensable.
2. Which features do you need to get things done?
Nothing hurts your bottom line more than having an expensive phone system with features your employees don’t even use.
Never ink a deal with any provider without knowing first how your employees use their phones. You should also consult with your IT department to figure out how a phone system can address the company’s current needs.
Can your company get by with basic features like auto-attendant, voicemail, conferencing, and custom hold music or does it need access to more advanced features like call forwarding, call convergence, and automatic call distribution?
If you have employees working remotely or who are in the field, consider how portable the phones are. Most VoIP providers offer Bring-Your-Own-Device features so your mobile workforce can answer calls wherever they are. This is an ideal feature for law firms, medical clinics, insurance companies, and real estate businesses whose employees rarely stay in their offices.
Choose a phone system provider that gives you the flexibility to pick only the features you need without having to upgrade to more expensive plans.
3. How many phones do you need?
VoIP providers require a minimum number of users even for their most basic plans.
If you’re a small business on track to grow in the future, choose a provider that will not only support all your current employees but also allow you to add lines as the need arises.
If you’re a large company requiring an elaborate system to support hundreds or thousands of employees, expect to pay a huge upfront cost for an on-premise phone system. Unlike small businesses that resort to more affordable VoIP plans, larger enterprises pay higher fees to provide phones to the entire company.
The cost of installing a PBX hardware on-premise covers the fees for wiring the system into the facility and training in-house or third-party IT specialists who will take care of the maintenance. Overall, you can expect to pay up to $220 per extension and additional fees for the phone system upkeep.
4. How scalable is the phone system?
An ideal phone system provider is one that will grow with your business.
If you’re a small to midsize business, this could mean switching from VoIP to an on-premise solution that gives you more control. However, it doesn’t need to be this way.
Most VoIP providers are adaptable enough to provide you with advanced integrations as your business requirements expand.
It’s important to take note of how flexible a company is so you won’t have to switch to another provider in the future.
One aspect to look for is how the company incorporates advanced growth technologies into its current plans. These features are the future of office phone systems and include, but are not limited to, real-time voice recording, digital voice assistance, text transcription features, and online collaboration tools.
For medium to large companies using VoIP technology, I recommend dealing with a provider that allows manual user provisioning. This way, you can easily add new users directly from your account without calling the provider to do it on your behalf.
The perfect office phone system is one that meets your needs, size, and budget. This guide should help you zero in on things that matter the most.
Looking for a flexible phone solution that follows you anywhere you go? Grasshopper has the bare essentials you need to work remotely in a post-COVID world. If you want to enjoy the functionality of VoIP without breaking the bank, Ooma is an excellent choice.
Are you running a small business? Your choice depends on what your priority is at the moment. There’s GoToConnect for the most powerful set of features and tools, 8×8 for the functionality to communicate with multiple offices across the world, and Nextiva for an unparalleled adaptability to meet your business’ growing needs.
Mitel’s MiVoice Business has the robust on-premise system you can manage and control from your offices for larger enterprises with greater demands.