There are several important factors to consider when searching for a business phone service. Most importantly, you want a reliable system that has all the essential features, tools and customer support, including call forwarding, voicemail transcription, call recording, CRM integrations, call queuing, auto-attendants, IVRs, extension dialing, and the ability to host online meetings or conference calls. It should also be easy to use, with high uptime and multiple service plans so you can find one that suits your needs and budget. You want to work with a provider that can handle not only your office phone system needs, but also contact center and virtual system needs if you have them.
RingCentral is our choice as the best business phone service because it's a robust cloud-hosted VoIP phone system and a great option for businesses of all sizes. The system offers nearly every calling, collaboration and mobile feature businesses would want from a phone system. RingCentral is also our choice as the best conference calling service within a phone system because it allows every user to host calls with up to 1,000 participants. Plus, it’s easy to use and has a wide range of features.
Since the phone system is housed in the cloud, there is no equipment to install, and RingCentral takes care of all the maintenance and upgrades. There are four different service plans that vary in price and included features.
RingCentral offers four service plans that vary in price and features to fit the budgets and needs of a wide range of businesses. All of the plans include unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada, unlimited business text messaging, a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, HD voice, visual voicemail, voicemail-to-email, file sharing, instant messaging and chatrooms, 24/7 customer support, and integrations with Microsoft, Google, Box and Okta. Here is a breakdown of how each plan differs from the others:
- The cheapest option is the Essentials plan, which is only available to businesses with 20 or fewer employees. And there are no audio or video meeting services included with this plan. It costs $29.99 per user, per month, and it includes 100 toll-free minutes. It's the only plan that places a limit on the number of employees who can use it.
- The Standard plan is $34.99 per user, per month, and it includes everything in the Essentials plan, as well as 1,000 toll-free minutes, a multilevel auto-attendant, call logs, an internet fax service and reports on quality of service. It also allows for video conferencing with up to four attendees.
- The Premium plan is $44.99 per user, per month, and it includes everything in the Standard plan, plus 2,500 toll-free minutes, video meetings for up to 100 people, automatic call recording, multisite support, custom app development and deployment, single sign-on, voicemail transcription to text, and integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk and Desk.com.
- The most expensive option is the Ultimate plan, which costs $59.99 per user, per month, and it includes everything in the Premium plan, plus 10,000 toll-free minutes and video meetings for up to 200 people.
Prices drop by $10 per user if you pay annually instead of monthly. RingCentral offers all users a 30-day risk-free trial.
Businesses have the option of buying or renting desk phones from RingCentral. Desk phones can be purchased for $80 to $400 each or rented for $5 to $21 per month.
RingCentral is a cloud-hosted system that doesn't require any special equipment or wiring. All you need is a high-speed internet connection with enough bandwidth to handle the number of calls your business makes. RingCentral recommends that you use a high-speed DSL, cable or fiber optic connection with dedicated upload and download bandwidth for voice of at least 90Kbps for each voice line.
You don't need a dedicated IT team to maintain this system. RingCentral handles all of the maintenance and upgrades.
Part of what makes RingCentral such a solid business phone solution is its reliability. It boasts 99.999 percent uptime, the highest possible for cloud-hosted phone systems. This means the service is down for just a few minutes each year.
RingCentral has 17 data centers worldwide. Should one center shut down or have a problem, customers will have no loss of service because the data will instantly transfer to one of the other centers. Each data center is monitored 24/7 and staffed by onsite engineering specialists and security guards.
RingCentral allows number porting. This means businesses with an established phone number can transfer their number over to RingCentral after signing up for the service. When transferring your number, you'll choose a temporary number to use until the porting process is complete. RingCentral says the time it takes to transfer a number depends on your previous provider, but the process typically takes 2 to 4 weeks.
You control the system entirely from the online portal, where administrators can assign employees numbers and extensions and create ring groups. Employees can also log in to change their own personal settings and make calls from their computers using a softphone.
Users are encouraged to set their mobile phone as a forwarding number. By doing this, you won't miss any calls should your business lose power or its internet connection. All calls will automatically be forwarded to a mobile phone in those situations.
Office includes over 50 calling, collaboration and mobile features, including caller ID control, one-touch calling, call recording, call flip, call park, call screening, intercoms, paging, call logs, message alerts, missed-call notifications, auto-attendants, multilevel IVRs, call reports, on-hold music, answering rules, extensions and the ability to forward calls to multiple devices.
There are several voicemail options as well: traditional voicemail, voicemail-to-email, visual voicemail and voicemail transcription to text. Among the collaboration tools are audio and HD video conferencing, presence indicators and team messaging.
The RingCentral mobile app, available on iOS and Android devices, lets employees make and receive calls from their business lines on a mobile device. The RingCentral app also lets users send and receive faxes and texts, set up and join conference calls, check voicemail, change their individual settings, and receive notifications.
RingCentral also offers a softphone. This lets your employees make and receive calls from their computers, whether from computers in the office or internet-connected laptops outside the office. To use the softphone, all you need to do is plug in a headset or use the computer's speakers and microphone. You can also use the softphone for conferencing and online faxing. In addition, when using the softphone, you can switch calls automatically to your desk phone or mobile device. Other features available with the softphone are the ability to listen to voice messages while the caller is leaving them, send callers text-to-speech messages, and record calls.
For businesses that want to connect with colleagues or customers overseas, RingCentral offers a number of international calling options, including full service coverage in 40 countries and international inbound numbers in more than 70 countries.
RingCentral Conference Calling
In addition to being our top choice for a business phone service, RingCentral tops our list of the best conference calling services within a phone system.
Each user has access to their own conference bridge. This means that each employee can host unlimited conference calls with up to 1,000 participants at a time. You don't have to worry about limiting your guest list or running out of minutes. The 1,000-caller limit is significantly higher than the thresholds of the other phone systems we reviewed. Multiple employees can also host conference calls at the same time.
RingCentral's conferencing service is reservationless, which means you can begin calls instantly. While you can still schedule conferences in advance, this gives you the option of hosting an impromptu meeting when the need arises.
When you set up your conferencing preferences, you can select "enable join before host," which lets the call begin and continue without you or another host being present. You can also enable settings that lock the call once it has started and everyone has joined so no one else will be able to enter your call. The lecture mode lets you mute all the attendees' lines; your guests can still hear you, but no one can hear them. This is a useful feature for large meetings where there could be a lot of background noise.
You can send conference invites via Microsoft Outlook or your email provider. You simply click the Invite With Email tab, and RingCentral generates an email with the dial-in number and the participant access codes.
If you are hosting a call with participants outside the U.S., they can dial in using local numbers. RingCentral offers local numbers in more than 50 countries.
When you are hosting a call, you can record your conference free of charge and listen to it later. You can also share your recordings with anyone who was unable to attend the conference.
RingCentral makes it easy for hosts and meeting participants to join conference calls from mobile devices, typically simply by tapping a button or link. This saves you the hassle of entering the dial-in number and access code.
The biggest feature missing from RingCentral's conference calling service is operator-assisted calls. With this option, you'd have a representative from the service to set the call's itinerary, greet callers and take down their contact information, moderate Q&A sessions, and provide transcripts. If your company hosts large meetings that need this type of dedicated attention, you will need to find a provider that specializes in operator-assisted calling services.
RingCentral Customer Service
The customer support we've received from RingCentral has been hit or miss. During our research, we contacted the company multiple times by phone, email and live chat, posing as a business owner interested in phone service. While most of our interactions have been positive, we did have a couple of calls and chats that were less than helpful. We noticed that our most recent interactions with the company had significantly improved from our first calls and chats, which improvement we view as a positive.
In our recent interactions with RingCentral, all of the representatives we dealt with were extremely helpful. They answered our calls immediately and provided in-depth answers to all our questions. They also highlighted points we hadn't thought to ask about. By the end of our calls, we had a clear understanding of how RingCentral works, the features it offers and its price points.
The RingCentral website offers an array of valuable information, such as FAQs, videos, case studies, webinars and whitepapers. The company provides phone support 24/7 to RingCentral Office clients with two or more users. Phone support for RingCentral Professional and RingCentral Office plan members with just one user is available between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.
One area of concern is the number of complaints filed against RingCentral with the Better Business Bureau. As of June 2019, 209 complaints had been filed against the company over the past three years. Despite the complaints, RingCentral is accredited with the BBB and has an A+ rating. Such a high rating means that the company is addressing all of these complaints. While it might not be able to provide everyone with the solution they demand, it's at least attempting to resolve the issues to everyone's satisfaction.
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