The 5 Best VoIP Business Phone Services for Startups in 2020

As a startup, you have a number of fundamental business choices to make. But among the most important is the system of business communication that you set up. From email marketing platforms and social media profiles to business phone services - the way you configure your basis of communication with your customers, investors, and team plays a large part in your business success.

In 2020, voice and video calls are among the most important channels of business communication. 61% of US customers still prefer to call businesses above emailing or messaging them. And as the corona pandemic has demonstrated in past months, video calling now plays a vital role in the workplace.

Modern business phone services go far beyond covering your call needs the way a traditional PBX system does. Using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), they allow for video and voice calls using either desk phones, or apps on smartphones and computers. Individual providers offer a staggering array of additional features, ranging from call transcription to integrations with CRM systems and inbuilt AI-driven analytics tools.

Here are the top five providers of VoIP business phone services with offers particularly attractive to startups.

1 - Nextiva



Nextiva offers the best overall deal for startups, with a comprehensive, reliable service, outstanding additional features, and plans near the lower end of the price spectrum.

With an uptime of 99.999% ('five nines'), Nextiva's VoIP package offers voice and video calling, conference calling, and messaging. Also included are functionalities like voicemail-to-email, call transcription, find-me-follow-me, and other headache-saving tools.

Besides these central services, Nextiva also offers NextOS, a proprietary platform that allows you to gain actionable insights into customer behavior and team performance. Powered by AI and machine learning, NextOS provides deep-digging analytics.

In terms of additional tools, Nextiva can boast Cospace, a team collaboration platform that allows for document sharing, voice and video calling, and messaging. You can also plan team activities and assign tasks.

Finally, an outstanding feature of Nextiva is its award-winning customer service, which is available 24/7 via email, live chat, and phone.

Pricing (36-mo contract, 5-19 users):
  • Pricing starts at $25.95 per month and user for the Essential plan, which already includes voicemail-to-text, Outlook and Gmail integrations, fax, and 24/7 live service.
  • Starting at $28.95 per user and month, the Professional plan adds video calling features, team messaging, some analytics, and popular integrations.
  • The Enterprise plan, from $35.95 per user and month, adds a vast array of integrations and advanced analytics.
  • Prices per user drop as the number of licenses increases.

2 - 8x8



Especially if your startup is operating internationally, or if you're based entirely outside the US, 8x8's plans might appeal to you. This provider offers local numbers in over 75 countries, as well as toll-free numbers in 110 countries worldwide.

All 8x8 plans include voice and video calling, HD videoconferencing, screen sharing, and team messaging. In addition, the plans encompass features such as omnichannel routing and social media integrations. This allows you to centralize all your business communications on one platform.

In terms of integrations, 8x8 is also compatible with third-party business platforms. If your startup is already using CRM systems such as Salesforce or Zendesk, they’ll easily integrate with 8x8.

Pricing:
  • The Express plan starts at $12 per user and month. However, it only encompasses basic features and is limited to a single line.
  • The “X1” plan starts at $15 per user and month and adds call recording, call queues, and a detailed call log and basic analytics.
  • “X2” begins at $25 per user and month, with unlimited calling in 14 countries, text messages, and internet fax.
  • “X4” starts at $45 per user and month and includes unlimited calling for 47 countries, as well as advanced analytics.

3 - Grasshopper



Are you often on the move, or even a digital nomad? If you're operating your startup on a mostly mobile basis, Grasshopper is the right service for you.

This provider offers app-based voice and video calling, as well as messaging features. You can easily receive and make business calls on your personal smartphone with your business number.

One big plus of Grasshopper is its easy setup and administration. Admin can be taken care of through an online portal, and setting up extensions for employees, divisions, or entire departments is a matter of minutes.

You also have total control over call routing - which order numbers should be rung in, how many rings the customer has to wait before being forwarded to the next extension, and during which times this is the case (weekends vs. weekdays).

Grasshopper also includes a range of features to make its life easier for users, such as automated attendants, call screening, online faxing, voicemail-to-email, and hold music.

Pricing (billed annually):
  • Plans are based on numbers and extensions, and all provide the same features, and 24/7 live support.
  • The Solo plan, at $26 per month, provides one 1 number and 3 extensions.
  • The Partner plan, with 3 numbers and 6 extensions, is $44 per month.
  • Small Business is $80 per month, has 5 numbers, and provides unlimited extensions.

4 - RingCentral



Though its pricing is on the higher end of the business phone spectrum, RingCentral offers a virtually all-encompassing VoIP solution and applications for team collaboration.

Voice and video calls, as well as screen sharing, instant messaging, and conference calls are offered by this provider. Technological perks such as automated attendants, voicemail to email (or SMS), call and conference transcripts, and file sharing are also available on some plans.

Furthermore, RingCentral has embraced AI to provide real-time analytics of calls in terms of quality, service, and usage.

In addition, integrations with a number of third-party platforms are provided. From Microsoft Office and GSuite to team collaboration tools like Slack and Trello, as well as CRM systems such as Zendesk and Salesforce, native compatibility is ensured.

Pricing (billed annually):
  • The Essentials plan is $19.99 per user and month for up to 19 users, and includes core phone features, but also basic team messaging and document sharing.
  • The Standard plan, at $24.99, adds video meetings, 24/7 support, and some popular integrations
  • The Premium plan is $34.99 per user and month and enables multi-site admin, real-time analytics, and CRM integrations
  • For $49.99, the Ultimate plan adds device status alerts and reports, plus unlimited storage space.

5 - Ooma Office



If you're operating on a tight budget, Ooma Office may be the most attractive solution for you. It offers passably comprehensive VoIP business phone services at highly attractive prices.

Ooma Office encompasses voice calling, messaging, and online faxing, as well as enhanced features such as call recording and advanced call blocking.

The services can be accessed through compatible desk phones or desktop and smartphone applications. In addition, if your startup already has a business number, you can easily port it to Ooma.

Another quality of Ooma Office is particularly useful to startups: scalability. Adding new lines is easy, and flexibility is maximized by the fact that services are not locked into fixed contracts.

Although it lacks some of the bells and whistles of the other services on this list, as well as features such as CRM integrations and analytics, Ooma Office may be a good fit for expanding startups that aim to keep costs low as they grow.

Pricing:
  • Ooma Office is $19.95 per user and month with a rounded feature set, with one exception: call recording.
  • Call recording, a few extra features, and higher usage limits are included in the Office Pro plan at $24.95.

Building a Solid Basis of Business Communication

While it is possible to migrate from one business phone service to another, doing the research and choosing the right one for your business from the start is worth it.

Depending on how fast you're expecting your startup to grow, who your target audience is, and which other platforms and channels you are currently using, you can winnow down the options. Until you are left with a VoIP business phone service that is a valuable asset on your path to success.

Featured photo: Getty Images

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