My company has 3 full-time people including one salesmen who makes a fair number of phone calls. Currently we all use our cell phones and I am trying to figure out a good small office solution. The cell phones are ok, but our reception is a little spotty.
I have had mixed results with Skype. Do other voip services offer higher fidelity phone service?
What has worked well for you?
I work for Bandwidth.com and it sounds like Phonebooth might be a great option for you.
As Dheer mentioned, Bandwidth.com does have a solid reputation in the industry and we aren't a fly by night company. Bob mentioned Google Voice, which relies on our network.
Phonebooth has Find Me Follow Me (calling the office phone can ring the salesperson's mobile on the road), easy to use auto-attendants, HD voice, voicemail transcription and an easy to manage interface.
It is also extremely affordable at $20 per user per month.
Again, I do work for Bandwidth.com, but we are usually a great fit with small businesses and you can find some customer reviews at BandwidthBuzz.com.
For small businesses, I recommend virtual PBX services Find out what that is. You don't have to install software, setup or install any equipment, or purchase an additional phone line. It also gives your small business a big business feel with features like Auto-Attendant or Virtual Receptionist, which is a custom menu that lets callers decide where they need to be routed (ex: "Press 1 for sales").
All virtual PBX providers offer different plans based on your needs, ranging from basic plans, which usually include 300 minutes and 5 to an unlimited number of extensions, to corporate plans, which usually include 2500 to an unlimited number of minutes and unlimited extensions.
Tim has already linked a similar question, the following is my response from there:
a few Real VoIP options worthI personally use voip.ms with a self-hosted solution.
Voip.ms :(Not a very intuitive UI,
not tough to use either, lots of
different customization and fallback
options at no cost, helpful support
staff, great rates)
Bandwidth.com :(More intuitive UI,
cant comment on the rates but they
have a great reputation among the VoIP
community, if that helps)
VirtualPBX : Can be used with
Gizmo5(if you already have an account
there, or if google opens it up to the
Self-hosted/Co-located PBX is also a
good option, can be a bit inconvenient
for the technically challenged, but I
doubt most people should have much/if
any trouble. If you go for this, check
out TrixBox, Asterisk, PBX in a Flash.
And you can use Voip.ms, AxVoice,
Vitelity or some others for the
Google Voice. Let me give you two reasons why
-Instead of wasting time sequentially listening to voicemail, I read (and can listen to) voicemails, picking which to respond to with one click.
-By having text on your screen, you and your staff can copy and paste that text into whatever systems you need to quickly define a to do. This is an amazing timesaver.
Bonus reason - if you give out a google voice number, you can control, from the browser, what should happen to calls on a person by person or groups of persons basis.
Gohello.com could be a solution
I purchased a phone system for our office 2 years ago. We had around 150 users at the time. Our requirements sound a bit different than yours. While researching the best solution I did find an intriguing solution. There is a business model out there where a provider hosts the PBX equipment at the central office. The provider then provides all of the functionality of a large office phone system to smaller offices. This included an application for your computer that allowed you to manage the appearance of your outgoing calls and incoming call routes. This would allow you to call your clients from home or a mobile phone and it will appear as if you are in the office. It also allowed you to receive office calls on any phone. The provider we talked to would have completely managed the services and phones. The solution is not cost effective for a large number of phones. However, I think it is perfect for an office with less than 20 employees that wants a lot of functionality. (Better describes in this article http://www.voipplanet.com/backgrounders/article.php/3832086 )
You could also purchase a small PBX such as the Samsung 7100 with multiple phone options (around $2500). These provide a lot of your standard phone features in an office with 2 –15 phones. Many manufactures make a PBX in this size. There are a lot of great deals on used phone equipment right now.
Finally you could by a 3 phone system from a retailer. I have found that these are difficult to set up, and lack a lot of functionality.
Let me know if you are in Minnesota and would like some sales contacts for this kind of thing.
You shouldn't look at in term of what do "we" recommend; instead, it should really be what your office needs.
When buying a office telephone system, a primary concern is to make sure that the system is the right size for your firm. Knowing your requirements in advance and understanding the size constraints of a system will help you negotiate with vendors. There are two main factors that will determine the size of the system you need:
Thank you for all of the suggestions. I tried 3 of the voip products recommended here and I found their customer service and products underwhelming.
I ended up using Vonage and it has worked great. I would recommend it to any small businesses with basic phone needs.