The Best Cloud Phone Systems of 2017

Business Class VOIP Cloud Phone Systems Provider Summary

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Provider Info
Year Started199720052003
Service AvailabilityWorldwideUSAWorldwide
Money Back 30 Day money backCancel Anytime for a Full Refund
Cloud Phone System Provider Services and Pricing Overview
Monthly Cost of cheapest service12.9519.95
Month to Month Option
Metered Plans
Customizable

What is a Cloud Phone System?

Cloud Phone Systems are also known as Virtual PBX, Hosted PBX or virtual phone services,

The name "Virtual PBX" was first used by VirtualPBX.com. Without a trademark on the name, it has become a generic description for this type of service. VirtualPBX.com continues to offer some of the best products in this marketplace.

A Cloud Phone System replaces the traditional premise-based phone switch (PBX) and allows a company to have a sophisticated communications solution without the cost and headache of managing the hardware.

Managment of the service is done through an online interface accessible through any Internet browser, which allows the customer to decide how to set for manage incoming calls.

Cloud Phone Systems have many useful features including:

  • Call redirects from your office phone line to mobile phones, other office phones, home phones, and even faxes
  • Online voicemail
  • Online call logs
  • Dial-by-name directories

Overall, a Cloud Phone System can be a low cost start for the entrepreneur and grow to support many thousands of users across multiple continents.

HOWEVER - NOT ALL VENDORS ARE THE SAME

It is very important to research and select a vendor that can support your needs.

How Do I Choose a Virtual PBX?

There are a few points to consider when choosing a virtual PBX provider. First, you want to make sure the plan you choose meets what we define as the "market standard." If they offer a free trial, there's a couple of things to keep in mind before signing up, such as the billing procedure. The virtual PBX feature breakdown is a glossary of all the terms you might come across when shopping.

Virtual PBX Feature Breakdown:

Web Management:
Control every aspect of the virtual PBX service, from setting up extensions to listening to messages, by logging into an online interface. This is an extremely crucial feature and is what makes virtual PBX services convenient, easy to maintain, and easily accessible.

Call Forwarding: Forward inbound calls to another number
Instead of someone having to answer the call and then transfer the caller to the desired number, the call is directly transferred to a specified number.

Call Screening: Put callers on hold in order to transfer a call
All virtual PBX services give the user the ability to set up music to play while the customer is on hold.

Call Screening:
Most virtual PBX services with this feature will give you the option to take the call, transfer it to voicemail, block the call, or to transfer the call to another number.

Call Transferring: Reroute a call to another phone
With most hosted PBX systems you can transfer calls to any phone, not just other phones in your system.

Dial By Name Directory:
Let callers find the number they want by spelling the name of the person they are trying to reach on a touch-tone keypad.

Follow Me/Find Me:
Designate a series of phone numbers (i.e. office phone, cell phone, car phone, home phone, etc) and the system will sequentially try each number until the user is reached. The virtual PBX service will forward the call to voicemail if the call is not answered at any of the designated numbers.

Internet Fax: 
Send and receive faxes via email.

Message Alerts: 
Get a text or email notification from the virtual PBX service letting you know that you have received a new fax or voicemail message.

Voicemail Service:
Get voicemail messages via an electronic mail box with storage space that can be accessed via phone, email (voicemail to email), or online. Some of the less-robust systems do not provide the user with access to online voicemail.

Voicemail to Email:
Receive voicemails in WAV format via email by designating one or several email accounts to receive the file. This is an almost universal feature that is almost always included with a virtual PBX service.

How many included minutes do I need?

When looking at the different plans available, try to purchase a plan that has enough minutes for the typical amount of time that you would use your phones for inbound calls. Similar to what you would expect from a cell phone service plan, the easiest way to increase your monthly bill is through overage charges. You should look at the average length of your calls, as well as the number of calls you receive within a month, in order to get a good idea of the average number of minutes you use per month. With a good estimate in mind, it will be easier to pick the plan and service that will best meet your needs.

Outside of looking at the number of minutes you have used on your phone bill, it might be hard to figure out how many minutes you use in a month. A simple way to look at phone usage is to think about your daily phone usage multiplied by 22 days, which is the average number of business days in a month.

Why use a virtual PBX service?

Lower Cost: When comparing the cost of a virtual PBX service to a traditional PBX system that requires you buy hardware, it is easy to see which one is cheaper. The initial cost of a typical online hosted PBX service is around $30. There is no hardware that needs to be purchased and you can use any phone, including cell phones, to receive calls through the system. You should expect to spend several thousand dollars on a traditional phone system before you plug in the first phone line. The hardware required includes a central system and specific phones that work with the system you selected. In addition, a traditional PBX system will need to be physically installed and set up which will add extra costs.

No Maintenance: Virtual PBX services have a distinct advantage over that of standard PBX systems in that there is never any need for the user to do maintenance on equipment or update the service they have. When using a virtual PBX service, you can leave it to your service provider to update their system and keep it running. In addition, you have the freedom to add and remove extensions with just a few clicks, allowing you to make sure your virtual PBX service stays scaled to the size of your business. If you use a standard PBX system, you get a piece of hardware that will require maintenance and will only provide a set selection of features. Also, because the service is dependent on a piece of hardware you have to deal with the limits of that hardware. To expand the capabilities of a standard PBX service you will have to physically add hardware or expansions to the hardware you currently own.

Easier Management: Managing an online hosted PBX service is relatively simple since service providers give you access to a web management feature. Using the web management feature you can completely control every aspect of your virtual PBX system from any computer with an internet connection. The web management tool is fairly intuitive, depending on the service provider, making it easy to change phone numbers associated with the extension, allowing you to access voicemail, change voice prompts, and also change any other characteristic of the online PBX system. Managing a standard PBX service usually requires an IT professional, as the PBX system does not have an easily accessible and easily understood interface.

Greater Versatility: A virtual PBX service allows the user to choose the number of extensions they want along with the features they want. By looking over the various service providers, you can find a plan which fits your business and one that will grow with your business. A standard PBX system gives the user some of the same freedom since they can compare different providers and their hardware. Yet, once you choose a specific piece of hardware, you are stuck with its capabilities. In order to get new features or expand your PBX system, you will have to purchase additional hardware or buy new hardware.

Sophisticated Tracking and Reporting: Keeping track of ingoing and outgoing calls is easy with a virtual PBX service web management account. Online hosted PBX services give you access to online call reports that are always up to date. By logging into your web management account you can instantly view the number of calls made or received, who the calls were made by or who took the calls, when each call started, and when each call ended. Keeping track of ingoing and outgoing faxes is just a simple. All of your internet faxes are tracked by your virtual PBX service. Using the web management account you can log in and see if your fax went through, who it went to, and how long it took to send. With online hosted PBX services you never have to worry about whether a fax went through or who just called you, because you can easily check for this information online with your web management account.