Modern business owners are continuing to use cloud based technologies in growing numbers in order to support their operations. The solutions often remove the requirement to purchase and install costly hardware as well as the need to meet the ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs associated with traditional phone systems.
A cloud-based phone system can not only save you money, but also brings with it many other benefits, such as automated call handling and virtual receptionists. It can also give your business a greater sense of professionalism that will impress your customers.
Want to see out what service would suit your company best? Use our free comparison tool to find your perfect cloud phone provider.
Best Cloud Based Phone System Comparison
We've given you the full lowdown on the most popular cloud based phone systems below, but this table provides a quick comparison of them:
In this guide:
The typical lowest starting price. The lowest price available for your business will depend on your needs.
Lots of excellent features, especially in the advanced plans which offer call recording and voicemail to text.
Stands out by offering call management, mobile apps and HD video conferencing with every package.
Excellent 24 hour support and an uncomplicated product range.
Highly scalable with excellent integration and features, such as instant messaging, as standard.
A fully featured product range and well revered customer service explain why Mitel is so highly regarded.
Excellent voice clarity and good pricing for international call rates – handy if you conduct a lot of business overseas.
Some users state that the initial set up can be pretty time consuming.
Reviewers of RingCentral can sometimes be critical of the level of customer service.
Like Nextiva, some users complain that the set up is confusing and takes time.
In online reviews, users have complained that the customer service is not wholly effective when things go wrong.
Mitel is slightly pricier than competitors. Although it’s not much in isolation, it could add up for those with large companies.
Vonage charges you extra for some features that other providers include in their packages.
Cloud Based Phone System Reviews
If you're looking for a cloud phone system, than we've got some good news – we've done all the leg work for you. Below we've collected some of the best providers in the market today, all offering great features that can complement your business, and competitively priced too.
Best Cloud Phone providers:
Ooma is our pick for the best cloud-based VoIP provider on the market.
It only has one $19.95 per month, per employee pricing plan, which keeps everything nice and simple. It also has a wide range of third-party integrations, including popular services Salesforce, Microsoft Teams, Slack and more.
All told, Ooma is surprisingly good value given its price and feature set.
- Unlimited calling in US, CA, MX, PR
- 35+ features included at no extra cost
- Easy DIY installation
- 24/7 support
- Free number transfer
- Multi-level virtual receptionist
- Free smart phone app with SMS/MMS messaging incorporated
Nextiva’s cloud services begin at $19.95 and range through $27.95 per user, per month. The more advanced plans carry unique features such as voicemail-to-text transcription, a mobile app, and call recording.
Nextiva can meet the demands of all business sizes, though small and medium companies may benefit most.
- Intuitive, flexible interface
- Custom ringback
- Voicemail to email
- Advanced Call
- May not integrate with older systems
- Strong learning curve
RingCentral's prices vary on the number of employees your business has and the features you need. For companies with 2-20 employees, prices start at $19.99 per user, per month when billed annually. For companies with more than 100 employees, however, prices start at $22.99 per user, per month with a great range of features.
It offers many common cloud-hosted phone options, but the company stands out from its competitors in that each plan comes with call management, mobile apps for iPhone and Android, and HD video conferencing. You can also integrate them with Outlook, Dropbox, and more.
Those looking for a dedicated video conferencing solution may be interested in Glip, the latest venture from the company, which has a generous free tier that allows meetings for up to 100 participants, for up to 24 hours. There is also Glip Pro+, which extends this to 200 participants, as well as offering analytics and customer support. Glip Pro+ starts from $11.99 per user per month.
RingCentral’s services are ideal for large-scale businesses that need a full suite of options.
- Excellent Support
- Call Queuing
- Real Time Analytics
- Only as stable as your internet connection
- Software is occasionally glitchy
GoToConnect’s strengths are its uncomplicated product range and its scalability depending on business size. The wide range of support options and 24/7 help also mean that there is always assistance when you need it.
The suite of options for its voice and video call packages are extensive and should cater to everyone from startups to established businesses with advanced requirements for call handling and reporting tools.
Prices start from $29.95 per user, per month for companies with up to four users. For businesses with more than 50 users, prices drop to $19.95 per user, per month.
- Enterprise-grade system
- Established private and public sector clients
- Delivered on a proprietary, purpose-built cloud
- Integrate with Salesforce, Oracle and Chrome
- Advanced analytics
- Call recording
- Conference bridge function
A well-established business, with a wide range of clients, 8×8 is a safe pair of hands for your business telephone needs. It may not offer in-house solutions, but the virtual systems it can kit out your business with are comprehensive with a large selection of tools and features.
The packages on offer from 8×8 mean that it can scale with you as your business grows, helping you offer your customers a seamless experience, whether you’re picking up the phone to 10 people or 10,000.
Prices start from $12 per month for small businesses and rise to $45 per month for the X4 plan designed for larger businesses.
- Internal messaging
- Support HelpDesk
- CRM Integration
- Poor internet connections may affect quality
- Interface feels a little outdated
Mitel offers a wide range of services for business telephone systems, whether you’re after a cloud-based system or a more traditional on-site solution. Mitel's systems are highly scalable, so it needn't matter whether you're a small or large business. Mitel will also work effortlessly with growing companies.
With Mitel purchasing ShoreTel for $530 million in 2017, it combined two of the largest providers of business telephone systems worldwide, and boasts not only a wide breadth of products but also experience, making it a solid decision to align your business with this robust company.
Mitel's pricing is done entirely on a business-by-business basis with bespoke quotes. The easiest way to get quotes for cloud-based phone systems is by using our unique questionnaire form.
- Phones and hosting service integrated
- Unlimited calls in US and Canada
- Voicemail to email forwarding
- Call recording
- Call transfers
Vonage can handle your business needs, with its Vonage Cloud packages for small to medium businesses, and Vonage Enterprise for larger businesses across multiple sites.
It only offers VoIP solutions, but can accommodate existing in-house telephone set-ups and make them Cloud viable, offering the options you would expect from this service. Vonage is a well-established company that offers practical business solutions at a range of prices.
Vonage offers three pricing plans, the Mobile plan will cost you $19.99 per month, per line, while the Premium and Advanced plans will cost you $29.99 per month, per line, and $39.99 per month, per line, respectively.
- 2.4 million worldwide customers
- Unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada
- Customizable conference groups
- Voicemail transcription
- Call recording
What is a Cloud Phone System?
Cloud phone systems refer to the off-site hosting of a company’s telephone service.
Rather than housing your business’s phone system infrastructure in your office, your provider keeps the equipment at a remote cloud data center. This means your data is securely stored in a server that can be reached over the internet, which for most modern businesses can be additional extensions to their existing data storage.
Also known as virtual or hosted PBX, cloud based phone systems take advantage of secure data technology to offer businesses the opportunity to completely remove the need for expensive office based hardware and unnecessary wiring.
Day-to-day phone use is no different than an on-premise service. However, the provider oversees all maintenance and upgrades at the off-site location. This means hosted PBX VoIP providers take care of any technical issues that may arise and deal with any maintenance or upgrades that need to take place. This leaves you with a modern phone system without the inconvenience of the management and tech support that goes with it.
How do Cloud Based Phone Systems Work?
When it comes to a cloud phone system, all of the software required by a business to deliver their customer service function is located on a secure server and accessed through a web browser. Without the need to locate hardware on your premise as well as maintain it your business can concentrate on what it is good at.
Cloud phone systems are handed completely by the Hosted PBX provider, all you need is a reliable internet connection that can keep your work force connected whether at their desks or remotely.
Cloud based solutions provide businesses with a range of features which allow them to offer a number of customer service based functions.
Virtual PBX Features
Upgrading to a cloud-based phone provider means you'll gain additional benefits that a physical PBX just won't be able to offer. And yes, it goes beyond just getting rid of those tangled phone wires. Here are the biggest benefits to a virtual PBX.
Messaging – Cloud systems enable businesses to easily manage messages and record voicemail which can improve customer service standards
Call Forwarding – Calls can be easily diverted to any phone in the network, making it ideal for use where businesses have different departments or teams
Voicemail – Easily record company voicemail messages and offer the ability for your customers to also leave messages when you are unavailable. Multiple voicemail messages can be created and voicemails can be delivered as text to mobiles or laptops
Business Text Messages – Marketing or customer messages can be distributed to your customers through a text message using a local telephone number
Versatility – The systems are extremely versatile, either using traditional office phones or using a mobile device
A virtual PBX will keep your office free of messy wires
Benefits of Cloud Hosted Phone Systems
Many businesses prefer cloud-based systems over the traditional phone network because it brings a number of benefits including;
Resource Savings – Cloud phone systems are much more affordable than a traditional landline network, not only in terms of initial installation and ongoing costs
Setup – As there are no telephone lines to install, a cloud-based system can be installed and set up quickly and easily
Remote connectivity – Cloud systems can facilitate operations when teams are geographically dispersed with remote staff being able to connect and take calls regardless of their location
Advanced Functionality – Cloud systems have a range of advanced features that can be added such as extensions, management of messages, call forwarding and business messaging.
Flexibility – Cloud VoIP systems allow companies to add an unlimited number of new users, no matter where they’re located.
This way, you never have to stress about exceeding your phone system’s capacity, and with many providers, you only pay for what you need. By contrast, expanding legacy and other on-site systems is complicated and costly.
Frees up resources – By hosting your phone system in the cloud, you can eliminate common IT headaches that arise from on-premises system glitches.
Instead of spending time and money fixing phone problems, your team is free to focus on more important tasks.
New features are easily added – If you host your phone system on-site, you’re limited to the features that the system comes with out of the box. Upgrading is a painful and expensive experience.
Cloud systems use a single, centralized software platform. New features can be seamlessly added to all users at the same time without disrupting service or requiring the use of additional hardware.
Disaster recovery – Some on-premises phone systems do offer redundancy and back-up features, but they require additional installation.
Many cloud system providers, however, offer disaster recovery services as part of their initial implementation.
In the event of a power outage, natural disaster, or in the unlikely event that the cloud center’s wires are cut, calls are saved and re-routed to alternate lines.
Premise-Based VoIP vs. Cloud Phone System
It’s important to understand the differences between a cloud phone system and VoIP.
The two terms are often used interchangeably, and while using the internet to make calls is the foundation for both systems, they don’t necessarily mean the same thing.
A VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system is any which uses the internet to connect calls. It might be cloud-based and hosted, and frequently is, but could also be run on-premise.
When comparing on-premise VoIP services with cloud-based VoIP systems the easiest way to find the right fit for your businesses is to highlight the differences. This should allow you to identify which system is the most ideal solution for your needs.
Cloud-based phone systems are typically cheaper upfront, but businesses pay providers a monthly fee per user.
On the other hand, premise-based VoIP systems are more expensive to set up but don’t include a monthly fee.
After a certain point, it becomes more affordable for a company to own its equipment rather than pay ongoing fees. However, cloud systems have advantages for small and large businesses alike.
A major distinction between premises-based and cloud systems is infrastructure.
With on-site VoIP, a company’s hardware and equipment is kept in a dedicated IT space, much like traditional phone systems. With the cloud, the gear is stored at a separate location.
If you prefer to keep your legacy phone system and its existing equipment, some providers can connect your analog phone lines with digital voice services through additional hardware.
If you want an on-premises solution and anticipate growth in your business in the near future, you’ll need to buy a larger appliance.
But with cloud services, you can easily add or subtract extra lines and features, often at no additional cost.
For more information on the choices available to your business visit our review of the best VoIP business phone providers, who offer cloud and on-premise options.
Cloud-Based Phone System – Case Studies
To help you decide whether cloud-based phone systems are the right choice for your organization we have put together two case studies below of businesses that have made the switched the cloud and thrived. As already outlined in this guide there are a number of benefits associated with hosted phone system solutions and why they’re the right choice for any modern business.
As one of the largest BMW dealerships on the west coast, Pacific BMW needed an advanced phone system to support its team of 150 employees. Previously, the Glendale, CA-based dealership had used an expensive, on-premises PBX system to handle its calls.
It answered basic communications needs but failed to deliver the kind of efficient performance required by its diverse staff of sales associates and technicians. Given BMW’s reputation for technological sophistication, Pacific BMW switched over to RingCentral’s cloud-based phone service.
Previously, its system provider had to send out a technician to perform maintenance and upgrades, which was costly and cumbersome. However, since the switch, the company leaves oversight to RingCentral.
Plus, rather than giving out separate office and mobile numbers, the sales team now offers one phone number that rings on different devices.
Natural Running Store
Natural Running Store is an online outlet catering to runners who want shoes and products that support their body’s natural running technique. Patton Gleason, the store’s president, wanted to stand out from the competition, but was frequently on the go, attending meetings with vendors and customers, as well as giving presentations.
By implementing Grasshopper’s cloud-based phone system, Gleason established one central phone number. Customers and vendors can now reach him, regardless of location or time.
As a result, he’s improved existing business relationships and created new ones.
Next Steps for Getting a Cloud Phone System
As we've shown you, there are many upsides to using a cloud business system, no matter what the size of your business. With extensive features such as automated call handling, call routing, recording and the ability to scale your system as your business grows, the question isn't should you get a cloud phone system, but rather, how have you managed without one up until now. By modernizing your phone system, you'll be able to concentrate on the more important aspects of your business.
Now you know what a cloud phone system is, it's time to get one that's right for your business. Use our free tool for a bespoke, no obiligation quote, today.
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