Monday, July 04, 2011

What's The Most Reliable, Cost-Effective, Small Business Virtual Phone System?

We recently had a small business ask us the question above about virtual phone systems. Their experience was as follows:

"Skype's recent "enhancements" have caused voicemail to stop working, have made it close to impossible to efficiently get voicemail when it does work, and have taken down account management access. We have also tried voip.com/PhonePower.com. Although many of their features are wonderful, we have found the softphone application to be unstable in various environments (dropped calls, app crashing). We have also tried Google voice, however, there is a limitation on phones that can be connected to this service and there does not appear to be a web-based call log anywhere. We do not currently own our own server which takes out a lot of other options".

Here's our answer .....

First, I wouldn't recommend Skype for a small business for the reasons stated, plus some more serious ones involving security with wireless interactions.

Please keep in mind that the Telephony system is just one piece of the puzzle. The "phone" system is not quite as critical as the transport platform it travels over. Remember ... we're talking VoIP here. Most of the performance risk comes from the transport platform not the "phone" system itself. Although the "phone" system is not without questions as you so aptly painted with your Skype experience. The bottom line there is you need a T1 line at least to ensure the level of reliability and performance you need for business purposes. DSL and cable won't cut it. You need a dedicated bandwidth backbone .... not shared.

That said, the real answer to "what is the most reliable, cost-effective, small business virtual phone systems is .... it depends. What's best for "you" may not be best for someone else .... and vice versa. To make that decision I simplify things and encourage focusing on understanding 2 things intimately .... the usage load/rate and the system requirements. Then decide based on what does best addressing those.

Given the above, I always recommend Packet8 (aka 8X8) for SMBs. They've been awarded numerous industry awards for their virtual systems specifically designed to support SMBs .... impressive feature sets, very cost effective, flexible packages, top rated reliability, and consistently positive customer care experiences.

Look through the link provided below. There's a number of vendors listed and compared (including 8X8) .... covering pricing and feature descriptions.

Virtual Phone System

For larger enterprises I suggest using the free help available via Business VoIP Solution

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