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Источник: ЦБ РФ

The Best Business VoIP Providers and Cloud PBX Services

Technology has provided a slew of communication channels with which you can reach customers, like customer relationship management (CRM). Having an IP-enabled and feature-filled telephone system is still highly important for any business, particularly one that's capable of being fully integrated into your sales, marketing, and general business initiatives at a software level.

A key indicator that the phone is still a must-have is the helpdesk industry. According to multiple vendors of helpdesk and IT service desk software, their customers report that the telephone is still the most popular method for their users to reach out for support even when email, social media, and live chat options are enabled. They also report that this trend isn't likely to change anytime soon, as shown in the infographic below.


But even with this realization, you have a multitude of choices. Larger businesses need to select between on-premises marketing automation solutions in particular will become key. For many, the cost of a traditional PBX system may not only be beyond the reach of their current operating budget, but may also not make much long-term sense.

Furthermore, when you're starting or running a small business, you need to be devoting the majority of your time and efforts into your core business in order to succeed. Wasting time on purchasing, implementing, and managing infrastructure can be extremely costly, both in capital outlay and time removed from building the business.

Traditionally, small businesses would rely on a local telco for basic business phone needs, using something like a web video conferencing or dozens of other features that can streamline processes, promote collaboration, and accelerate growth.

Fortunately, there are many more options available today in hosted PBX solutions that bring the features and reliability of an enterprise-level PBX to SMBs. In order to provide a guide to these solutions, we've pulled together eight of the leading hosted PBX solutions representing a range of features and types: 8x8 Virtual Office Pro, Citrix Grasshopper, Dialpad, Fonality Hosted PBX, Microsoft Skype for Business Online, RingCentral Office (for Business), ShoreTel Connect Cloud, and Vonage Business.

We also attempted to include VoIP solution provider Nextiva in this roundup, but oddly, the company didn't respond to any of several attempts at contact. This was more than a little puzzling for a company that ostensibly specializes in business communications.

Modern Features of Business Phone Systems

The eight VoIP solutions we did test cover a wide range of features and options. Some, such as Fonality Hosted PBX and RingCentral Office (for Business), are geared towards larger businesses, and offer high-end enterprise features, but they offer rates that fit into SMB budgets. Others, such as Citrix Grasshopper, are very much geared towards the smaller end of the SMB market and provide the basics of a modern phone system—without the need for any on-premises equipment or even fixed phone lines and, though limited in features, are extremely cost-effective.

On the higher end of this space, hosted PBX providers such as RingCentral Office and Fonality Hosted PBX will generally require some on-premises hardware such as specific desk and cordless VoIP phones preconfigured to work with the hosted PBX service. These phones connect to the provider over the Internet and function exactly as you would imagine a business phone should, but the phone system running those phones is located in the cloud rather than the telco closet in the basement. Self-service management and configuration of these systems generally occurs through a web-based portal, and can include a long list of potential features. For SMBs, the most commonly important features you should be considering include:

  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, "Press 1 for accounting, press 2 for the White House..."
  • Call queuing, generally used in call centers, where systems like this distribute incoming calls to specific recipients based on what the caller wants, extensions dialed, or other criteria.
  • Hold music or audio, which should have not only a good list of options offered by the service, but also the ability for you to upload custom music or audio.
  • Extension assignments, meaning an administrator on your side of the relationship should be able to assign internal extensions as desired.
  • Number porting so you can use your current business phone number with the new service (important for folks who pay for 800, 888 or similar lines).
  • Call recording so you can use phone experiences for training, sales, and marketing intelligence purposes.
  • Voicemail to email transcription so your employees can read or play their voicemail from wherever they receive email.
  • and a whole lot more, read on.

In some cases, providers will offer on-premises Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) connectivity through hardware that is connected to analog or digital phone lines from