A businesswoman owner of a clothing retail store leans against the sales counter. She is talking on the phone and taking notes on a pad of paper.
Many VoIP systems allow call forwarding to or other integration with mobile devices, allowing your employees to take business calls from their cell phones. — Getty Images/Maskot

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) sends data over an internet connection and provides private branch exchange (PBX) functionality without on-site infrastructure. It's the technology that powers the best business phone systems for small companies. However, features and pricing vary by VoIP provider and plan.

Below you will learn what makes each phone service suitable for small businesses, from per-user costs to features. Use these details to pick options to explore further. Also, see our guide to choosing a business phone system to learn how to compare vendors effectively.

Ooma Office: Great for offices and retail spaces

Ooma Office is an excellent solution for companies switching from a traditional office phone system to a cloud-hosted service. It supports landline desk phones, analog fax machines, and overhead paging systems. Or you can buy VoIP phones through Ooma or install mobile or desktop apps.

The setup and user interface are straightforward, which is perfect for users new to VoIP phone systems. Ooma Office has three small business plans with unlimited calling in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Prices start at $19.95 per user per month.

[Read more: Choosing the Best Business Phone System for Your Business]

Google Voice: An add-on to Google Workspace

If your small business uses Google Workspace, you can add a Google Voice number with a few clicks. The Starter plan ($10) is for teams of up to 10 people. It includes voicemail transcripts, unlimited calling and text messaging, and mobile apps for Android and iOS devices.

Larger groups can choose between Standard ($20) or Premier ($30). These plans have a desktop app, desk phone compatibility, an auto attendant, and call recording.

Nextiva: Better for managing customer conversations

Nextiva stands out in the business phone system space for its customer experience potential. The NextivaONE platform pulls all interactions across multiple communication channels (email, voicemail, text, and phone) into threaded conversations.

You can see call notes, customer surveys, or transcripts without switching apps. Pricing starts at $30.95 per user monthly for one to four people and decreases as you add users. It costs less if you enter a contract or prepay your account.

RingCentral: Best small business service for integrations

RingCentral recently debuted RingEX, a unified communications platform offering integrations with over 300 companies, including Salesforce and Microsoft. The rebrand centers around its RingSense AI, which enables real-time video transcriptions, highlights, and summaries. RingCentral has new artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for voice and messaging that are available to select customers.

Its base plan provides a developer platform and application programming interface access. This subscription also comes with single sign-on, visual voicemail, and video conferencing with up to 100 participants.

RingCentral business communication packages start at $30 per user monthly. The vendor offers volume discounts for 50 or more users, and you can save up to 33% with annual billing.

[Read more: The Impact of AI on Business Phone Systems]

Zoom: Flexible mix-and-match plans

While Zoom is known for video conferencing, it's also a VoIP provider offering business lines with metered and unlimited calling. You can mix and match subscriptions, choosing Zoom Phone pay-as-you-go versions for employees who make limited outbound calls and unlimited calling plans for others.

Companies can leverage the Zoom AI Companion with a Zoom Workplace subscription, specifically the Business Plus plan. This innovative tool can summarize chat threads, recap a meeting if you join late, and generate ideas on the digital whiteboard.

If your small business uses Google Workspace, you can add a Google Voice number with a few clicks.

Vonage: Phone service with add-ons for seasonal businesses

Vonage is a reliable business phone app that provides voice, video, and texting. Subscriptions include a virtual receptionist so your company never misses a call. Employees can answer phones from any location, thanks to intuitive desktop and mobile apps.

The economical mobile plan provides the fundamental features every small business requires. But if you experience high call volumes a few months out of the year, you can add call queues or extensions without upgrading to higher tiers. This option can reduce your annual costs while still meeting customer expectations.

Dialpad: AI features with all business phone systems

Dialpad's business phone service uses DialpadGPT, its proprietary, generative AI technology. It was trained on more than 6 billion minutes of business conversations. The software transcribes calls in real time and pulls out keywords, action items, and highlights from conversations.

Dialpad Ai can even coach your employees on phone calls. With a company dictionary, you can train the AI to recognize industry terms or competitors. All subscriptions include call recording, unlimited calling, and a multilevel auto attendant. Dialpad has three business communications plans, starting at $23 per user monthly or $15 with annual billing.

[Read more: 4 Effective Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage AI]

Grasshopper: A flat-fee phone system option

Grasshopper is a virtual phone system that charges a flat rate instead of per-user fees. It forwards calls to an existing business phone number or cell phone.

Grasshopper keeps personal calls separate from professional ones and offers mobile and desktop apps. Multiple people can share business phone numbers. Pricing starts at $18 monthly. Prepay annually to save over 20%.

8x8: Ideal for scaling your workforce globally

8x8's cloud-based phone system offers phone number support in over 100 countries, allowing small businesses to establish a presence with local numbers even if they don't have a physical office in the area. Its user interface supports multiple languages, and 8x8 provides regional customer service support in seven countries.

Unlike other business phone systems, 8x8 X Series lets you add contact center capabilities. This feature enables companies to expand customer support or sales without changing platforms. With mix-and-match service plans and custom pricing, this flexible VoIP service grows with your organization.

GoTo Connect: Best for unlimited international calls

Small business owners appreciate GoTo Connect's feature-rich platform and 24/7 customer support. It's the right phone system for companies that have a high volume of outbound international calls, as the VoIP service includes unlimited calling to more than 50 countries.

Business phone plans have team messaging, video meetings, and 80 text messaging credits per month. While the base package has over 100 communications features, step-up subscriptions add new digital channels and customer engagement tools to support outbound SMS campaigns. Like 8x8, GoTo Connect provides cloud-based contact center software for companies that want to deliver the full omnichannel experience.

OpenPhone: Best for small remote teams

With OpenPhone's shared inbox, remote teams can keep lines covered and ensure no customers fall through the cracks. Any staff member can follow up with a client, but your customer won’t know another employee took over the shift. But behind the scenes, you can assign tasks, collaborate, and view who said what and when, fostering a sense of transparency and accountability.

OpenPhone subscriptions include unlimited calling and messaging, an auto attendant, call recording, and one new local or toll-free phone number. It integrates with email, HubSpot, Salesforce, and Slack. Pricing begins at $19 per user monthly or $15 when paid annually.

Types of business phone systems

With support for traditional phone service diminishing, small business owners must decide what type of phone system to use in their offices, retail stores, and warehouses. Historically, landlines were the most reliable. They keep working even when the power goes out.

Under this category, we have on-premises PBX and key service utility (KSU) systems. The former requires a steep initial investment and is challenging to scale. VoIP services have almost wholly replaced on-site PBX services for small businesses. KSU systems are cheaper than conventional PBX yet have limited functionality and cost more than virtual phone systems.

Modern business phone systems, powered by VoIP technology, have revolutionized how data is transferred over the internet. These platforms, whether they are multiline phone services or cloud-based PBX platforms, offer significant advantages. However, it's important to note that internet or power outages can impact the connection, which is why the best business phone providers offer failover solutions.

A business continuity plan automatically reroutes calls to unaffected numbers or devices. This strategy ensures customers can still reach your business and place orders even if your internet goes out.

[Read more: The Benefits of a VoIP Phone System]

Phone system features

The best phone systems for small businesses are equipped with a range of user-friendly tools for voice, video, and messaging. Most VoIP platforms offer many features that are accessible from a softphone application on a desktop or mobile device. These features are designed to enhance communication and streamline operations, making them a valuable asset for any small business.

Here are a few of the most common business phone features:

  • Auto attendant.
  • Call flip.
  • Voicemail.
  • Unlimited domestic calling.
  • Caller ID.
  • Hold music.
  • Call forwarding.
  • Text messaging.
  • Call routing.
  • Ring groups.
  • Call hold.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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