Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine’s lead analyst for software and Web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine’s coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of Web Services (pretty much the progenitor of Web 2.0) for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine’s Solutions section, which in those days covered programming techniques as well as tips on using popular office software. Most recently he covered Web 2.0 and other software for ExtremeTech.com.
While you could choose a softphone, having dedicated hardware for your VoIP system comes with many benefits. There are a lot of VoIP desk and office phone options out there. They offer traditional phone services, as well as a variety of additional features. Some will be perfect for certain businesses and not quite right for others. We’ve put together this countdown of the best VoIP phones of 2020 to ensure you get the right ones for you.
The Yealink Touch-sensitive HD IP Conference Phone CP920 is comprised with the Android 5.1 operating system. With a user-centric design, it combines simplicity of use with sophistication of features, being perfect for small to medium sized conference rooms. With its crystal-clear audio quality, your conversation will sound natural and bright anywhere with well-designed CP920. The Yealink CP920 can be not only paired with your mobile staff –smartphone or PC/tablet via Bluetooth, but also is a good choice for businesses that use a public switched telephone network (PSTN) after combining with CPN10 PSTN Box. As a valuable complement for your conference room, CP920 conference phone strikes an excellent balance between ease-of-use and powerful features, giving you a simply and clearly engaging business conference experience.
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.
If you’re located in one of the 21 states currently serviced by Verizon Fios—which are mostly in the northeast—you’ll have access to one of the fastest internet connections available, which is perfect for VoIP. If you’re in DSL-only country, the speed will be slower, but uptime is still guaranteed at 99.95%. Either internet option will support steady VoIP service, and if your business is more medium-sized than small, Verizon could add up to a better value in the long run (especially if you’re in Fios territory).
You've probably been offered a home VoIP solution several times already if you've got cable TV service or if you're getting your Internet access from one of the larger Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Outfits like those love offering voice as the third leg of a "triple play" sales pitch: Internet, TV, and phone. When you see those offerings, what you'll be buying is a VoIP-based phone service, though generally one with slightly fewer features than you'll get from a dedicated VoIP provider because the provider generally isn't focused on their VoIP product, but one of the other two.
Vonage is probably one of the most well-known PBX providers on the market—and for good reason. Vonage phone service is easily scalable, so it can keep up with your business as it grows while maintaining affordable pricing. Vonage also offers integrations with everything from Salesforce to Slack. So if your business outgrows your current customer relationship management tools, you can switch without having to worry about whether your VoIP communications service offers integration with your new CRM.
All 8×8 plans include team messaging, HD videoconferencing, and screen sharing, you you can easily keep all your at-home team members engaged and collaborative. And contact centers that have transitioned to remote work can still enjoy features like omnichannel routing, which allows your employees to engage with customers via chat, social media, text, and phone—all in one platform.
One of the most exciting and clear differences between a cloud PBX provider and a standard telephone system is software. Your IT staff will find a host of new software tools to help monitor and manage the system. But what catches most business operators' eyes are two key capabilities that software provides: back-end integration and softphones. The latter is exactly what the name implies, a phone that's rendered entirely in software allowing any compatible device to become a phone as long as it has an internet connection, a speaker, and a microphone. More on that below.
Be aware, however, that there are significant security implications regarding the use of mobile softphones on employee-owned devices. While it's possible for your employees to simply download the appropriate software from their respective app store, your IT department should be involved with allowing access while also confirming that necessary security steps are taken. Also be aware that there are important reasons not to allow soft phone installations on private devices of any type because you may not be able to remove that phone client if the employee leaves the company, and because local laws may impact how much control you have over the use of the device.
Once familiarized with VoIP services, hone in on what these features can do for you and how to transition to the next level. First and foremost, is cost – a universal concern for anyone. Check the provider’s plans and pricing and be sure they’re the most cost efficient for your calling needs. There is also quality & reliability, portability, customer support, and a satisfaction guarantee; all key factors that may be clinchers or deal-breakers when going through the process.
The majority of plans are loaded with a great selection of features that can come in handy when you are making or receiving calls. Many providers offer over 30 features included in the low monthly fees. These include basic call management features such as call waiting, call forwarding, call blocking, caller ID name, do not disturb, and voicemail. More advanced features such as the voicemail to email feature let's you access your messages at anytime, even when you are away from your home, simply by checking your email inbox. Distinctive ringing, additional virtual numbers, and Smartphone Calling App's are other examples of more advanced features that can be useful.