Businesses in need of a virtual phone system don't have the same the requirements as organizations searching for a more traditional solution. With a virtual system, you don’t have to worry about the phones it can connect with or how it will be hosted. Those searching for virtual phone systems need a service that gives them the best chance of projecting a professional image at all times for a low cost. They aren't looking for some high-priced solution that has every phone system feature imaginable. Mostly, they want a system to keep them and their remote workers connected under one umbrella.
The key features to look for in a virtual system are an online portal that makes it easy to set up your call-forwarding tree, an auto-attendant that shows your customers you are running a professional business, and a mobile app that allows you to make and receive calls from your business line.
Because it offers all of these services and features, Grasshopper is our choice as the best virtual business phone system. Grasshopper gives small businesses the main phone system tools they need to project a professional image without installing any equipment or phones.
The service works with mobile and home phones, offers many important features, and includes unlimited minutes. The service, which is easy to set up, is available in three different service plans that vary in price, phone numbers and extensions.
View all our recommendations for business phone systems on our best picks page.
Grasshopper is available in three service plans, all of which include unlimited minutes and all of the available features. The plans differ in the number of phone numbers and extensions they include.
Here's a rundown on each plan:
- The Solo plan costs $29 per month and includes one number and three extensions.
- The Partner plan is $49 per month and includes three numbers and six extensions.
- The Small Business plan costs $89 per month and allows five numbers and unlimited extensions.
There are no contracts with Grasshopper. You pay month to month and can cancel at any time. However, you can save 10 percent on each plan by paying annually. The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Grasshopper also offers professionally recorded greetings for your automated attendant. You can get a professional recording of up to 250 words for $75.
Ease of Use
Since this is a virtual service, absolutely no equipment or desk phones are needed to use the system. Instead of connecting with desk phones like most traditional phone systems do, Grasshopper's virtual service works in conjunction with mobile and home phones.
When a customer or client calls, the system's automated attendant answers the call and then forwards it to the appropriate employee or department. With this service, employees designate the phone numbers they want their calls forwarded to. This could be a mobile device, a home phone or any other phone of their choosing.
Employees have total control over how calls are routed to them. They choose the numbers – up to 15 – they want their calls sent to, in which order those numbers should be rung, how many rings should occur before switching to the next number and when they want calls forwarded to them. For example, they can choose to receive calls 24/7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, or only on the weekends.
When employees get calls, they have several options for how to handle them. They can answer the call, send the caller directly to voicemail, or hear the caller's phone number or name to decide if it is someone they want to speak with right away.
In addition to each employee having their own extension, employers can create department extensions, such as for sales or customer service. Employers then group workers into the proper department and set those employees' numbers to ring when someone tries to reach their department.
The entire system is controlled through an online portal. Each user can access the portal to set the call-forwarding tree. They can designate the numbers they want calls forwarded to and the order in which they will ring.
Grasshopper includes a number of features that give remote employees the tools many traditional in-office phone systems provide. Some of the more valuable features are automated attendants, hold music, a name directory, call screening, voicemail-to-email, voicemail transcription, text messaging and online faxing. However, Grasshopper doesn't offer the wide range of features that a traditional phone system does, such as call recording or integrations with programs like Microsoft Office.
The Grasshopper mobile app, available on iOS and Android devices, allows employees to make and receive calls from their business lines, check voicemail messages, see their faxes and call history, set up push notifications for missed calls and messages, and change call-forwarding options. Additionally, the iOS app lets users sign faxes and PDF email attachments with their finger.
Grasshopper also has a desktop app that features a softphone. With the softphone, you can make and receive business calls and text messages from your business line.
Grasshopper allows you to choose local, toll-free or custom vanity numbers. Established businesses that don't want a new number can have their current number transferred to the Grasshopper system. The number-porting process usually takes 7-10 business days for a local number and 3-5 days for a toll-free number.
Grasshopper doesn't offer a traditional phone system. If your business outgrows this service, you will have to look for a new provider. Some phone system providers offer both types of service, which makes switching from a virtual system to a traditional system a smooth and easy process.
Grasshopper has a complete conference calling service built into its phone system. With the conference bridge feature, which is included for no extra charge, each employee has the ability to hold their own conference call with up to 10 callers – or unlimited participants on the Small Business plan. If your company is looking to host conference calls with more callers than your Grasshopper plan provides for, you will need to use a conference calling service. These services allow hundreds, sometimes thousands of people on each call. You can find more information on these services on our conference call services best picks page.
We were pleased with the customer service Grasshopper provided. To test the quality of support, we contacted Grasshopper multiple times, posing as a business owner interested in a virtual phone system.
Each time we reached out, a helpful representative immediately answered our call. They always took as much time as needed to answer our questions and never tried to rush us off the phone. There were times when we felt they could have provided more thorough answers to our questions, but by the end of each call, we had a good understanding of how the system works, the features it offers and the pricing options.
We were a little disappointed that the representatives never offered to follow up with an email, as that would have given us contact information for the representative we spoke with in case we had more questions. However, when we did have additional questions, our follow-up calls were always answered immediately.
The Grasshopper support team is available by phone 24/7. In addition, you can request help via online form. Grasshopper's website also offers a comprehensive user guide that walks you through each aspect of the system.
Editor's note: Looking for a business phone system? Click the Compare Quotes button below to have our sister site BuyerZone connect you with vendors that can help.