You might guess that business phone services are less critical than they used to be. After all, we’re not chained to our desks – or for that matter, any physical location. And we use email, chat, and messaging for an increasing amount of business communication. But reliable, versatile, sophisticated phone service is at least as important now as it ever was.
There’s no substitute for the immediate connection we feel when we speak to another person, and there’s nothing more frustrating than unexpected downtime for phone service. Reliable business communications are vital, but selecting the best provider can be quite a challenge. The sheer volume of business phone providers is staggering, and the range of services and features is overwhelming.
So we’re going to make it simpler. What follows is a list of our top three business phone solutions, based on that oh-so-important balance of useful features and value for cost. Let’s dig in!
A note before we explore each of our three providers individually: With few exceptions, all major business phone providers offer the same basic services. You’ll find phone service, fax service, call forwarding, some version of messaging, auto attendants, and a slew of other basic services available from everyone. Rather than list every feature that our three providers have in common, we’re going to focus on what makes them different from one another.
- Quite simply, Nextiva is the single most innovative VOIP provider in the marketplace. They’ve distinguished themselves by providing even small businesses with enterprise-level features, based in part on sophisticated machine learning and AI.
Not only do Nextiva users get reliable, portable, and robust phone service, but Nextiva is redefining genuinely unified communications, giving companies the opportunity to vastly improve customer journeys and satisfaction. When you throw in seriously robust big data analytics capabilities, you begin to discover just how much more than simple phone service Nextiva offers.
There’s a reason why more than 150,000 companies trust Nextiva for business phone service. Nextiva may not be the cheapest option, but it offers the fullest complement of features. Nextiva fans tend to be fiercely loyal, but the few complaints about Nextiva are that setup can be a little difficult for people who aren’t super tech savvy, and customers do point out that they pay a little more than if they used a competitor.
In 2017, Nextiva was named Enterprise VOIP Company of the Year by Mobile Breakthrough. The company also received a Bronze Stevie Award for Innovation in Customer Service, as well as being named INTERNET TELEPHONY’s Product of the Year for 2017.
- No discussion of business phone service, and particularly VOIP would be complete without mentioning Vonage, a pioneer in the industry. While Nextiva’s focus is exclusively tailored to business needs, Vonage’s market is broader, providing service to millions of residential customers in addition to companies.
Vonage does offer the expected array of useful features, but its chief appeal is its relatively low cost, both for startup and for regular service. Vonage doesn’t offer some of the more innovative features that Nextiva does, but the investment is more modest.
Clearly, the number of Vonage subscribers speaks to its popularity. The most common customer complaints are about call quality and reliability and also about consistent difficulties in reaching customer service reps and receiving less-than-stellar customer service.
- Compared to Nextiva and Vonage, 8×8 is an upstart! It currently serves more than 50,000 business clients, and its primary target is small businesses. Like Nextiva, 8×8 is innovative, boasting more than 140 patents. 8×8’s mission is to create intuitive, seamless cloud-based communications that is designed to meet a variety of small business needs.
Like Vonage, 8×8 gives small companies the opportunity to get great functionality at a very low startup and monthly cost. In fact, most of 8×8’s happy clients praise the service for its relative value.
8×8’s popularity is on the rise, and it appears on a number of top phone provider lists. Dissatisfied customers’ chief complaints are about unreliable service and also about a lack of technical expertise in some tech support representatives. Overall, though 8×8 represents a great value for small businesses.
In 2017, 8×8’s product, Sameroom, was named Unified Communications Product of the Year by INTERNET TELEPHONY. In 2018, 8×8 won Best Communications Provider at the Call and Contact Centre Expo Awards.
Nextiva, Vonage, and 8×8 all provide millions of business users with reliable, versatile service. So how do you decide which provider is best for you? Our recommendation is to get a quote for your company from all three. Compare the plans and think carefully about the features that matter most to you.
One critical concern that many business owners tend to overlook when they’re selecting their phone service provider is integration with software and apps they already rely on. If, for example, you have a life-changing CRM tool that you swear by, finding out which VOIP providers seamlessly integrate with that app could be the deciding factor.
Overall, when you take the time to do a little homework, you’re likely to be much more satisfied than if you simply choose the popular or the cheapest option.