Who are the best hosted PBX services?
Finding the right private branch exchange (PBX) services for your business can make a difference for your organization. With hosted services, you do not need onsite equipment, which is a huge plus because it helps to reduce your expenses.
- Private branch exchange (PBX)—A PBX system manages incoming calls to a company phone system. Internal phone systems typically have a variety of different extensions and lines to route calls to, and a PBX is essentially a switchboard where this activity happens. Historically, this was a switchboard with human operators, but now a computer usually conducts PBX functions. This service is commonly offered by VoIP providers and occurs in the cloud using the provider’s equipment and software.
- Hosted PBX—A cloud hosted PBX is offsite and runs all PBX operations in the cloud. Your VoIP vendor’s software and hardware serve as your PBX.
You can save more on business voice over IP (VoIP) service than you would with similar services from a traditional phone provider. Some more advanced services are available through VoIP providers, too, enabling your business to access a business communications system that rivals what much larger companies would normally have.
To help you find the best hosted PBX services, this article compares popular vendors and allows you to make your own conclusions about hosted PBX systems. From there, you can do your own comparison-shopping and choose the PBX that is right for you. Our clear winner is Nextiva, because of their strong service and unprecedented features.
- How to Compare Cloud Hosted PBX Services
- Vonage Business
- Ring Central
- Hosted PBX Tips and Tricks
1. How to Compare Cloud Hosted PBX Services
There are a variety of different VoIP providers on the market offering cloud hosted PBX services. It may seem difficult at first to compare them. With enough information about your needs and what these services offer, you can generally develop a plan for your business communications system and find the right vendor. You will need to prepare questions to ask and think carefully about what you should implement in your own system.
Pricing for VoIP services is typically much lower than it would be for comparable traditional phone plans. This can make VoIP services easier to afford. If you are a small to medium-sized business (SMB), then you can still obtain really great business phone services for your organization at a very low price. VoIP works by sending phone signals over the Internet instead of using the copper wiring of traditional phone plans, reducing infrastructure costs for the vendor and allowing them to pass these savings on to you.
PBX and VoIP features can be very advanced, enabling you to get more done and portray a very professional image to people interacting with your business. You can have multiple virtual phone extensions so that every employee, department or purpose for calling your business has a different virtual line and extension number to dial. Call analytics, queuing of calls and a variety of other features are available to help.
With a focus on small to medium-sized businesses, Nextiva can help you access advanced call management services like anonymous call rejection, priority call routing and more. Their three plans, Office Pro, Office Pro Plus and Office Pro Enterprise, start at $19.95 per month and fit a variety of different industries and business sizes. Nextiva is one of the industry leaders for business VoIP services, so you can expect their service to be effective at helping your business. With award-winning customer service and strong features, Nextiva is our top choice VoIP provider.
NextOS is Nextiva’s admin platform. It allows you have powerfully control your VoIP system, yet it has a friendly and accessible interface. You can actually import as many as 100 users at once using NextOS, which is particularly valuable if you are maintaining a large system but can help any business save time on VoIP maintenance. Users can customize their own feature settings, listen to voicemails and more from their very own NextOS interface, so there is less hassle and busy work for the system admin.
Nextiva’s other great NextOS features:
- Admin Access–With flexible administrator access, you can manage your VoIP system from anywhere. You can add other admins and provide them with the right to add in other admins on their own. This makes Nextiva’s system very adaptable and flexible.
- Advanced Call Recording–Call recording capabilities that go beyond standard call recording, allowing you to listen-in and even give ratings to phone calls and make notes on them.
- Analytics–NextOS analytics enable you to transform the calling experience for customers and other callers. You gain access to unprecedented information that can inform how you operate your business communications.
3. Vonage Business
Vonage’s flexible plans offer something for businesses of every size and industry. For some specific industries, Vonage offers customized solutions that can help your organization accomplish more. For instance, law firms needing to track hours spent on the phone can have billable client hours tracked automatically with the VoIP phone system. Pricing generally starts at $29.99 or $39.99 per line per month, with $29.99 being the cost of the Vonage Essentials Mobile Plus plan.
4. Ring Central
Ring Central offers Standard plans starting at $24.99 per month per user, a Premium plan at $34.99 per month and an Enterprise plan that is $44.99 per month. All of these plans offer unlimited calling and a limited number of toll-free minutes. Video meetings with screen sharing are also part of every plan, with specific numbers of participants allowed with each, between four and 75 per meeting depending on the pricing tier you chose.
8×8 offers a platform connecting your business communication system together. Virtual Office and Virtual Office Pro plans both offer unlimited calling, call management and software integrations as well as a variety of other traditional phone features and advanced features. Virtual Office Pro offers web conferencing, Internet faxing and call recording, which the Virtual Office plan does not have. Integrations such as Salesforce, Insightly, Outlook and other popular business software platforms can help you stay organized and get more done with your phone system.
You can choose a metered phone plan that charges per minute for use instead of including unlimited service, which may help your business cut costs if you are not likely to use your phones as often. 8×8 also offers an unlimited calling plan that covers US calls and calls to eight different countries, which is popular with businesses that have higher call volumes.
ShoreTel’s business communications services can help you maintain a business phone system without the added expenses of costly equipment and software. Everything is maintained for you offsite. With strong disaster recovery capabilities and features that can help you save your business money and resources in the event of a significant problem. ShoreTel also offers onsite and hybrid systems, so if cloud hosted systems are not right for you, they can help you get the type of system that is best for your business.
7. Hosted PBX Tips and Tricks
Ultimately, the cloud hosted PBX system that is best for your business is the one that fits your budget and provides the features you need.
As you shop around for a hosted PBX system, you may find that the features and pricing of each plan can differ tremendously but many of these vendors offer very similar services. When you get started with your new system, follow these tips and tricks to help your business get the most from your new business communications system:
- With you auto-attendant systems, keep in mind that callers need to be directed quickly instead of waiting several minutes to go through an automated menu. Keep it short.
- Configure your PBX properly to offer a customized welcome message, route calls appropriately and have priority routing. Try to avoid leaving a generic setup. You want to leave a good impression with callers.
- Using email integration, you can have the correct email records come up whenever someone calls.
- With call routing, you can prioritize in-house calls or employee calls over customer calls. For instance, if a member of your executive team is calling to reach a specific department, her call can be prioritized over customer calls.
- Using software integrations, you can connect business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM) data to your PBX system and have access to the right data you need when you need it. It is worthwhile to ask your vendor what types of integrations would help your business the most.