High costs, security issues, features you don’t need, and poor call quality are all common complaints with small business cloud PBX systems. How do you decipher which provider is the best? Fear not! We are here to help, and have put together an article highlighting some of the best cloud PBX providers for small business. Every cloud PBX provider has its strengths and weaknesses, so we put together an all-encompassing post to have as much helpful information in one place as possible.
But first things first, let’s explain what some benefits and common issues businesses have with cloud PBX solutions.
Related: Learn more about cloud PBX systems
This article will cover the following:
Common Issues with Cloud-Hosted PBX Systems for Small Businesses
No matter how much research you put into something before making a purchase, sometimes things just go wrong. Virtual PBX systems are no different. One of the most common complaints by small businesses is poor call quality. If your customers can’t hear you, you can’t hear them, or the quality of the call doesn’t live up to your high standards, you can lose business.
Losing customers isn’t fun. And neither is feeling like your virtual PBX service provider is ripping you off. All too often, small businesses are being charged too much for these services. A small business with a handful of employees probably isn’t going to need advanced call analytics, so why should they be paying for these?
Another problem some businesses may run into with virtual PBX systems is the lack of customization options. Depending on the size of your business, you may require certain capabilities that some of your hosted PBX service cannot provide.
Arguably the biggest concern, that will exist with just about every VoIP PBX solution, is security. Since everything is stored on the cloud, it could be at risk to be accessed by someone other than your business.
Benefits to Choosing a Cloud Phone System for Small Business
Effectively using a cloud PBX system can greatly enhance your business operations. Here are some of the many benefits that will have an immediate impact on your business:
- Cost savings - according to some case studies, you can save upwards of 40%-50% on your small business communication needs (per univoip).
- Scalability - you can easily scale up or down as your business changes. It is a simple process to add or remove lines lines to your cloud PBX solution.
- Reliability - most providers boast a 99%+ uptime, so you can almost always rely on your phone system being up. Often times, traditional hard phone communication is one of the first things to go when bad weather hits, but a VoIP PBX will be much more reliable in times such as this.
- Flexibility - having your communications based in the cloud means you can take your calls with you anywhere. Need to stay home and watch the kids one day? No problem. With a virtual PBX solution, you can have your business calls forwarded to your computer or smart phone.
Top Cloud PBX Service Providers
Now that we’ve explained the pros and cons of a cloud hosted PBX system, let’s dive into some of the top providers! All the providers we have listed come from our knowledge of the industry and our own research. We were in no way influenced to put certain providers on here - we genuinely want you to find the best virtual PBX service for your small business!
|Inbound Numbers||USA and Canada||USA and Canada||70+ countries||120+ countries||160+ countries|
|Monthly Minutes||Unlimited||Unlimited||Up to 10,000 per user||Unlimited||Up to 7,522 per user|
|Call recording||No||Enterprise plan only||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Grasshopper focuses on simple pricing and affordability. They offer 3 different service plans, perfect for your small to medium-sized business.
- Solo - $29/month, 1 number, 3 extensions
- Partner - $49/month, 3 numbers, 6 extensions
- Small Business - $89/month, 6 numbers, unlimited extensions
Some of their other features included with all plans are:
- Voicemail transcription
- Business texting
- Call Forwarding
- Call Transfers
All of Grasshoppers plans include unlimited talk minutes, which is a fantastic feature to offer, as you may use a different amount of minutes from month to month. Additionally, they allow you to choose from a wide variety of toll free and local numbers when you sign up, even mixing the two if your plan includes multiple numbers.
Grasshopper is a great option for small businesses with a handful of employees making and receiving calls. Grasshopper also has a very strong business texting feature, offering an easy to use interface as well as unlimited texts. If you're looking to run your business all from your cellphone, Grasshopper is the go-to provider.
Nextiva is another great option for your cloud PBX provider. They offer different tiers of pricing, depending on your business size and how many users you’re going to have. On top of their tiered pricing, they offer longer contracts and prepay options that can help lower your average monthly bill.
- Their communication basic plan includes features such as unlimited calling/internet faxing, a free local and toll free number, auto attendant, call logs and advanced call management. Their pricing is as follows:
- 1 - 4 users: $35/month per user
- 5 - 19 users: $30/month per user
- 20 - 99 users: $26/month per user
- The communication pro plan includes all the features included in the basic plan, plus an array of additional features, such as unlimited conference calls, web conferencing and SMS messaging. You also gain access to features such as smart case routing and the ability to survey customers to better gain insight into their needs. This package is priced as follows:
- 1 - 4 users: $38/month per user
- 5 - 19 users: $35/month per user
- 20 - 99 users: $30/month per user
- Their final plan, communication enterprise, is suitable for businesses looking for the largest package of features. You get all the features available in both the above packages, and also get features such as voicemail to text, voice analytics, account analytics, and live chat features on your website. The pricing on these plans is:
- 1 - 4: $55/month per user
- 5 - 19: $45/month per user
- 20 - 99: $40/month per user
All the prices listed above are for their month to month plans. There are discounted rates available for their contract and prepay plans, so you could potentially save even more money! Nextiva also offers virtual PBX solutions for companies with 100+ employees.
Nextiva offers the best website integration of all the providers, offering a live chat feature that you can easily integrate with your already existing website. If you're looking to save even more money, they offer a 12 and 36 month contract as well, making them a great option for medium to large sized businesses.
Out of all the cloud PBX providers for small business, RingCentral is the largest. With annual revenue expected to be north of $800 million in 2019 (per BusinessWire), they have solidified themselves as a goliath in the virtual PBX industry.
Much like Nextiva, they offer 4 plans with pricing dependant on how many users you expect to have. Their 4 plans, Essentials, Standard, Premium and Ultimate all come with an array of features, which we will further dive into below.
- Essentials, their most basic plan, comes with one toll free or local phone number, 100 toll free minutes/month, video conferencing for up to 4 people, unlimited SMS, voicemail to email and professional implementation. You can have up to 10 users on this plan. Their pricing for the Essentials plan is as follows:
- 1 user: $39.99/month per user
- 2 - 99 users: $29.99/month per user
- Their Standard plan includes everything listed in their Essentials plan, plus a few extra features. You get 1,000 toll free minutes/month, unlimited internet fax, manual call recording, call log reports, quality of service reports, and multi-level auto attendant. Pricing for this plan is as follows:
- 1 user: $49.99/month per user
- 2 - 99 users: $34.99/month per user
- RingCentral’s most popular virtual PBX plan is their Premium plan. In this plan, you can have unlimited users, with 2,500 toll free minutes per month and host up to 100 people in a video conference. You have access to all the features in their Standard and Essentials plan, plus automatic call recording, multi-site support, Salesforce, Zendesk, and Desk.com integration, and voicemail to text. The pricing for this plan is:
- 1 user: $54.99/month per user
- 2 - 99 users: $44.99/month per user
- Their final and largest plan, their Ultimate package, is geared towards larger enterprise type businesses. The features are all the same as their Premium plan, except you get 10,000 toll free minutes per month, and video conferencing for up to 200 participants. Pricing for their Ultimate plan is:
- 1 user: $69.99/month per user
- 2 - 99 users: $59.99/month per user
RingCentral also offers a ton of add-ons to their virtual PBX systems. You can purchase additional toll free or local numbers for $4.99/month, additional vanity numbers for a $30 one time fee, additional international numbers starting at $5.99/month and additional international toll free numbers for $14.99/month + $25 one time fee. Rates and fees may apply when making calls on one of these add-ons, so be sure your business is aware they may incur additional costs.
RingCentral has evolved into a huge business, and are a fantastic option for enterprise-sized businesses.
8x8 is yet another well respected competitor in the cloud PBX industry. They offer 3 different service plans, ensuring there is a plan that will fit your businesses needs. Their virtual office plans all include a phone number with a virtual extension, as well as business SMS and unlimited calling in select countries.
- X2 Edition is their most basic plan, with unlimited calling in 14 countries, auto attendant, call queuing, virtual office analytics, Salesforce integration, and audio + video conferencing for up to 100 people.
- $25/month per user
- X5 Edition, which offers unlimited calling in 32 countries, has everything included in their X2 plan, with the addition of call recording, switchboard pro, and upgraded media storage.
- $35/month per user
- 8x8’s final small business cloud PBX offering is their X8 Edition. This plan includes everything in their X5 and X2 packages, with the addition of analytics service quality, analytics supervisor roles, inbound/outbound contact center features, call recording storage and visual IVR. This package is more geared call center type environments, but can be used however the buyer pleases.
- $55/month per user
8x8 offers a strong suite of available products, as there are many more products they offer that may be suitable for your small business. If you’re looking for a cloud PBX provider that will hardly fail you, 8x8 is a fantastic option. They tout 99.999% uptime, meaning their system may only be down for a few minutes per year.
Similar to RingCentral, 8x8 has carved their way into being a well-respected cloud PBX provider for enterprises. While they still have plans for small businesses, enterprises are where they fit in a little better.
AVOXI offers virtual PBX systems to companies around the world, servicing over 160 countries! Offering both local and toll free numbers in most locations, AVOXI is a great place to get a cloud PBX, especially if you’re planning to do business in any unusual locations.
AVOXI’s pricing depends on what country you want to purchase a number in and where your calls are being forwarded to. Since this post is about virtual PBX, we will assume you are receiving calls on a softphone via the internet.
AVOXI offers 6 different plans, all with varying bundled talk minutes. Below, we will go over the pricing for a United States toll free number:
- Classic: $4.49/month (no bundled talk minutes, $0.041 per minute)
- Basic: $7.99/month, 400 monthly talk minutes
- Connect: $16.99/month, 1031 monthly talk minutes
- Standard: $25.99/month, 1895 monthly talk minutes
- Advanced: $43.99/month, 3888 monthly talk minutes
- Premium: $70.99/month, 7522 monthly talk minutes
Additionally, AVOXI is now offering cloud contact center solutions, AVOXI Genius. This new solution has 2 different tiers of pricing, called Genius Essential and Genius Connect. It is priced at $4.99 per user and $24.99 per user!
Some of AVOXI’s features include 15 days of free call recording, call forwarding, call groups, IVR, call transfer, call screening, call barring, call waiting, time of day routing, fax to email, plus many more standard features!
When it comes to affordability, AVOXI is probably the best option for small businesses. Not only do they offer free call recording, their plans start as low as $4.49/month, and they offer more international service options than any other provider!
Which Cloud PBX Solution is Best For You?
Not all cloud PBX providers are created equal, and some are better for certain things than others. If you’re a small business looking for a basic cloud PBX provider, Grasshopper is probably the best option for you. Their affordable pricing and easy to use software make them a great choice for businesses not looking for all the bells and whistles.
For larger businesses, with more than 50 employees, RingCentral is going to be the best option. They offer major discounts that correspond to the number of seats purchased and a wide variety of features!
If you have a business who expects to receive a high volume of calls, providers like Nextiva and 8x8 both offer unlimited calling and have plans suitable to handle lots of agents and incoming calls.
If you simply need an affordable cloud PBX system, look no further than AVOXI. Though AVOXI doesn’t offer unlimited minutes like some other providers, their extremely competitive pricing and great feature set, that includes free call recording, sets them apart from the pack. And not to mention they offer virtual phone numbers in 160+ countries, more than any other provider on the market today!