On the phone providers' side, since this review roundup was first published, some of the products listed here now belong to other companies and some have merged into new products. If you're planning to depend on your phone system over the course of the next decade, then you should consider a vendor that's stable enough to still be around when it's time to up upgrade.
That's the basics of UCaaS, but the concept is constantly evolving to include more communication and collaboration technologies. Those capabilities also get tweaked to provide new benefits, sometimes general, sometimes aimed at specific business use cases, like call centers or help desk operations, for example. The key is integration. Voice is becoming integrated with other back-end apps.
Work When & Where You Want – One very popular and common feature of business VoIP systems is called “find me/follow me.” Instead of having separate numbers for your office, cell phone, and home office, you have one “virtual extension.” You can program the virtual business phone service to ring all of your extensions simultaneously, or in a specific order, and you decide how to handle a missed call. You decide if a call should go to your voicemail, or to another extension. When you make a call using your cloud phone system, the receiving caller ID will show your business phone number, regardless of which device you are calling from.
Collective communication is the future of business communication. This type of communication technology enables users to communicate using a variety of data formats. For example, you could text your colleague about something you might have received in an email. Different data formats are combined to ensure that people who are contacted in a way are able to get the message in different ways. VoIP and unified communications go hand in hand.
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As a consultancy marketing business for small-business owners, part of our business is to help small-business owners set up their VoIP and local phone numbers. We used to have RingCentral, and we advised our clients to use it. RingCentral gives you a local phone number regardless of whether you are in the building or not—or even in the city. You will always have a local phone number that you can redirect to any cell phone, depending on who’s working in the company. RingCentral offers good customer service and has great flexibility, but it’s a bit expensive.
GoToConnect has nearly as many glowing critical reviews as the Radiohead discography, minus the pretentious lyricism. GoToConnect has established a positive industry reputation since its launch as Jive in 2006, thanks mostly to its interface simplicity, focus on small businesses, and large array of telephone features that are available to all pricing tiers.
Let’s face it: the office environment isn’t for everyone. If you frequently work out of office or run a mobile business (like a food truck or pop-up store), you may find that Grasshopper is the best phone service for you. Grasshopper offers iOS and Android apps that allow you to make and receive calls on your cell phone using your business number—that way, you can keep your personal and work communications separate. It’s a great VoIP software for any entrepreneur who doesn’t want or need desktop phones as part of their PBX solutions.
Voicemail routing can take multiple forms, but they're basically rules you can apply to incoming calls that will automatically route them to voicemail without even causing a ring. For example, if calls come in with Caller ID blocked, those can be routed directly to voicemail. Or if you're simply not into talking to anyone, you can hang out a digital Do Not Disturb sign and route all calls to voicemail, perhaps until you're feeling more social or every day between the hours of 9 PM and 7 AM.
E911 (Enhanced 911) is a little different to traditional 911 services and is something that you should be aware of. With E911 you need to provide your home address, and this information gets passed to the emergency services if you dial 911. The concerns are that if you have a power outage or an Internet outage then you will not be able to dial 911. If you have a cell phone then you can dial 911 from your device. If you are ONLY reliant on VoIP for your phone service you should be aware of this situation.