Best Office Phone Systems for Small Businesses

Explore the 11 best office phone systems for small businesses in the United Kingdom.

Updated: June 5, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

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If you are trying to streamline communications between your small business and your customers or employees, you have a piece of technology that can help.

The best phone system options for small businesses can ensure fast and efficient communication. Several options are available on the market, each with different features.

Some offer artificial intelligence options for example, while other focus on security. So, which are the best office phone systems for your businesses and what are their other main features?

Our experts have reviewed the best options to give you the information you need to decide.

ProviderScoreDetails
1. Vonage Pro★★★★★Click Here
2. bOnline★★★★★Click Here
3. RingCentral★★★★★Click Here
4. CircleLoop★★★★Click Here
5. BT★★★★Click Here
6. 8×8★★★★Click Here
7. GoTo★★★★Click Here
8. Gradwell★★★★Click Here
9. CFone★★★★★Click Here
10. Telappliant★★★★★Click Here
11. XLN★★★★★Click Here

What is an office phone system for a small businesses?

An office phone system for a small businesses is an essential tool for reliable communication.

It includes phones, video calling, messaging features, and Voice Over Internet Protocol VoIP system options. There are lots of options so you can always add additional systems to your office setup during business expansion.

How does an office phone system work?

Business phone systems work via an internet connection.

VoIP systems include a voice conversion tool that sends the digitised version of your voice through the internet. However, they work differently if you are calling on an ordinary phone. In that case, the VoIP system will convert the voice signals back into an ordinary phone signal.

These systems can also function using a microphone and speaker. They will often use a softphone device, like a smartphone or tablet. In some cases, you may select an IP phone from your manufacturer. This hardware functions similarly to a desk phone. Alternatively, if you still have legacy traditional phones, using a VoIP adapter to convert them to function with cloud-based systems is possible.

The pros and cons of a business phone system

Wondering whether business phone systems are the best option for your company?

Consider their pros and cons to weigh up their benefits and drawbacks before committing to one:

Pros

✔️ Scalable: if you need to expand a system you can and you can add virtual extensions for employees working from home too

✔️ Enhanced security features: conversations can be kept confidential if needed, as one of the security features you will receive is call encryption. You can also receive call recording security, firewall protection and access controls to grant access to authorised individuals only.

✔️ Call analytics: you will be able to analyse trends related to the calls you receive using call analytics features. This option ensures you can identify the peak call times. You will also be able to track when your company receives missed calls.

✔️ Cost-effective communication: since VoIP office phone systems function using the internet, you can save money this with option

✔️ Unified or combined communication: these phone systems combine all your communication channels, including instant messaging and email, so your employees can access all communication in one place

✔️ Improved company image: a business phone system can enhance communication and reduce call waiting times, which can improve your company image

Cons

❌️ Can take time to learn: phone systems for small businesses can take time to learn and get accustomed to

❌️ The systems can be costly: some can cost a lot of money and the more features or advanced features the system offers, the more expensive they will be

❌️ Software reviews may be required: maintenance is important for small businesses and you will need to update a system's software regularly

❌️ Internet connections may affect the call quality: if you have a low-quality internet connection, your call quality may also be poor

What are the main types of small business phone systems?

Three are three of the main types of small business phone system available:

Private Branch Exchange or (PBX)

Private branch exchange systems offer a private telephone network. These systems can be digital and computer-operated, meaning computers can manage and switch the calls. With this system, you can connect all the systems in your office. You can also share external lines when making outgoing calls.

Virtual System

Many virtual phone systems are cloud-based solutions. They function using the internet and allow you to make outbound and receive incoming calls. Using softphone technology, that is, technology that doesn't require a physical phone, some systems function with mobile devices.

Key System Unit or (KSU)

Key system units are phone systems with multiple lines. They ensure your business can make several outgoing calls and receive multiple incoming calls. These systems have multiple buttons to handle several calls and extra features, including call transfer and hold options.

What are the features of business phone systems?

Office phone systems have several features.

The features you have will depend on the company you buy from, and what's included, but most will have the following:

  • Compatibility with mobile apps: your phone system for your business offers compatibility with mobile apps. This feature means you'll easily be able to access the features of your business's phone system. You can access these features by downloading the apps to your smartphone.
  • Voicemail: customers or clients can leave a voice message for your staff when they are not in the office to receive the direct call
  • Multiple phone lines: your system will be compatible with multiple phone lines. This feature ensures you can handle high-volume call periods by switching between calls.
  • Auto attendant: this feature is an automated answering tool. It can inform your customers of their position in the queue to boost customer satisfaction.
  • Video conferencing: many phone systems for businesses offer video calling and conferencing as an integrated feature. This feature allows you to communicate with customers virtually.
  • Call recording: if you need to listen back to your phone calls, many systems come with a call recording feature. It records conversations in a digital format, and you will be covered for incoming and outgoing calls if you need to train new staff.
  • Instant messaging: your system may offer instant messaging. You can type brief messages just as you would with SMS communication. You can then send them via an internet connection.
  • Software integrations: many office phone systems provide software integrations that make communication easier than standard landlines. For example, using the office phone system with Salesforce, Slack, WhatsApp, Microsoft Teams and many other software options may be possible.
  • Call queues: with these systems, you will be able to use a call queue feature to put customers on hold while your system directs them to the ideal agent
  • Extension feature: this feature is an additional three numbers for your phone line for each employee or agent
  • SMS messaging: these systems offer SMS messaging features, meaning you can receive and send SMS messages via an office phone number

How to choose an office phone system?

When selecting an office phone system, it's a good idea to consider the features your company will use frequently. Will you require analytics with your system to review your company's call activity? Will you need a call recording feature for training purposes?

You can also consider whether specific individuals within your company need additional or advanced features. For example, if you need to make international calls, ensure your provider offers this feature and consider whether additional fees or charges come with this option.

As soon as you know which features are important, you can review each system provider and check the prices of each option. You can also check whether the provider offers any free plans or discounts for new customers.

The best business telephone systems

Below, we will share our findings regarding the best business telephone system options.

1. Vonage Pro

The Vonage Pro system has lots of different features, including desktop and mobile app options and also the additional perk of 99.9% uptime and a high-speed internet phone service.

It has a tool for company-wide recording for calls and multiple CRM integrations. This means you can integrate the system with customer relationship management software, Salesforce, to monitor communications efficiently.

You can also use other programs including Microsoft Dynamics and Microsoft Teams with this system.

There are a few different package available, with the most basic prices at £10 per month and an upgraded version for £25 per month.

Business SMS and Vonage Meetings features are also available with the Vonage Pro system. This lets customers send business messages (SMS) and multimedia messages via the system, so they don't need to use their personal contact numbers when communicating with clients.

There's also a virtual assistant tool, which includes artificial intelligence (AI) which is a self-service feature for customers.

2. bOnline

With bOnline, there are a wide-selection of features included such as desktop and mobile apps, video meetings and call reports.

It has call reports and time-of-day analytics, to quickly show businesses their total numbers of inbound calls, the number of calls missed, and the number of calls answered. There's also access to data on when the most calls are received.

The setup process takes a few minutes and there's also a free trial of the system available. There are different priced plans to choose from, with the basic plan at £7 per month and an upgraded version for £15.50 per month.

3. RingCentral

The RingCentral system includes plenty of perks such as team messaging and video calling features to streamline business communication.

There are also several AI features, including a meetings feature and a tool for minimising background noise.

It's possible to direct customers automatically to the specific department they require and also to monitor customer satisfaction performance using artificial intelligence.

RingCentral's analytics tools can also help a business to plan ahead for peak call times.

With CRM integrations, you can also use Salesforce to manage communications and there are a number of other integrations too including Microsoft Teams and MailChimp with this system.

You can try it out for free before committing and there are different plans to choose from. The cheapest is £12.99 but if you need more features there's a package for £29.99.

4. CircleLoop

CircleLoop has a number of features thrown in including mobile phone apps for iOS and Android, customisable voicemail, call forwarding, and routed calls. Thanks to these features, it's possible to direct clients and customers straight to the required employee and without missing any messages.

Within the voicemail feature, you can receive a transcription of your messages and there is a call recording feature, which lets you record and listen back to calls for training purposes.

Conference calls are another useful feature allowing you to arrange group calls when required and set up a conference room for each employee.

There's also an analytics feature to show you the total and average call durations. It can also show you missed calls and allow you to review calls made.

Integrations make this system highly compatible and convenient option to use. You can use CircleLoop with HubSpot, Xero, and Slack, for example.

There are different packages to choose from, depending on what you need, with the cheapest at £5 and a package with more features for £15 per month.

5. BT

BT offers business phone and VoIP systems for small businesses that streamline communication. A few useful features of the BT package include video conferencing, and multiple communication channels so you can make calls from any device.

With the BT system you can make high-definition calls and receive support from the UK-based helpdesk at anytime. It also has a secure network to help protect your company from cyber attacks.

There are a few different options to choose from with BT, including a cloud-based option and the BT One Phone option. With the BT Cloud Voice, you'll receive integrated security software, plus full-time network monitoring and encrypted calls.

When using BT Cloud Work, you'll have all of your communication channels on a single platform. This can be easily integrated with existing apps and a maximum of 14 international sites.

The system also allows you to switch between devices when you have active calls and there's an option to use the tailored training pack for employees.

The BT Basic cloud-based system is £18.77 per user per month, plus a £100 connection fee.

6. 8×8

The 8×8 phone system has a great analytics tool and the reporting options can offer valuable insights into your calls through custom dashboards that are easy to understand.

It's possible to respond to calls from any location with the mobile app which can enhance your customer satisfaction rating along.

You can also unify all connections between employees, including video meetings and team chat options.

There are integrations available, including Salesforce, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Dynamics 365 options.

You can also access communication features such as sending SMS notifications and alerts and using chat apps such as WhatsApp Business, WeChat, LINE, and Viber.

8×8 Connect is a multi-channel communications management portal which comes with the system, to manage your message automation SMS campaigns and analytics. The tool allows you to deliver personalised messaging to enhance the customer experience.

There are different prices depending on which features you include but most are around £24.99 per user per month.

7. GoTo

Conference and video calling features are available with GoTo and it also has a cloud-based option for its VoIP system. It also has a handy analytics tool providing dashboards and reports to give you insights into how your team communicates.

There's a number of other features to use, including video meeting scheduling with GoTo Connect which allows you to automate meeting scheduling or change meetings whenever required.

With GoTo Connect you can integrate several apps into the system. These include Slack, Salesforce and many other leading software options.

For voice and call management, you can use call forwarding and routing, put calls on hold and use the dial-by-name directory with minimal difficulty. It also includes virtual voicemail features, custom messages and greetings, phone number extensions to enable callers to direct their calls to specific departments, and fee-free phone numbers.

With the meetings and video options, you can activate screen-sharing options, hold conferences in high definition, and access video conferencing equipment. These kits can be used in an office but also for employees who work from home.

GoTo offers a range of customer support features with their systems, so customers can access the correct department within a company quickly. It also includes insights into talk and wait time, which can help a business run more efficiently.

The basic plan is £10 and there's a plan for £21 which includes more features too.

8. Gradwell

Gradwell offers VoIP systems which allow you to make and receive high-quality calls and can also make remote working easier. You can also choose from international numbers or non-geographic numbers.

With other features, such as softphone app compatibility, employees can use the system from their phones and they don't need to be in the office.

Additional features you can choose from include extension settings to direct customers to specific departments, analytics and reporting features to track usage and calls. There's also a call recording feature, which can help with training new employees.

To help your calling system, there's call queues and an audio conferencing feature so you can make calls to multiple users.

The contact directory allows you to easily save and access contact numbers, while the auto attendant ensures you can transfer users to extensions automatically.

There are also security features such as an IP-only access option which can add an extra layer of security, and secure signalling.

You can choose from a couple of office phone systems. For the Wave 1000 system, it's £10.50 per user per month.

For the Wave 3000, it's £15 per user per month, offering similar features but 3,000 landline or mobile minutes instead of 1,000. There is also a cheaper option of the Wave 100, which costs £7.50 per user per month, offering the same features but fewer minutes — just 100 landline or mobile minutes.

9. CFone

The CFone VoIP system includes many different features which can be useful to small businesses. It also has increased call capacity which allow you to set up unlimited incoming lines so you don't miss any customer calls.

With CFone's internet connection feature, you can make and receive calls in the office or from home.

It also has a call groups feature, which can be made from any country, and calls are in high definition.

You can organise conference calls, set up a professional voicemail system for whole teams or just individuals within your teams, and set up hold music for queuing customers with this system. you can also record calls if needed.

Since CFone has softphone compatibility, you can dial from your company laptops. It also gives you access to call reports, statistics, missed call information, call logs, call times, and how long it took to answer the calls.

A few pricing options are available from CFone. The Expanding Enterprise option is £17.00 per person per month, and has 500 free minutes to UK landlines and mobiles. There is also a StartUp option for £8.00 per person per month, offering 100 free minutes.

10. Telappliant

Telappliant offers cloud office phone systems, hybrid systems and omnichannel systems that make communication simpler within offices.

The cloud office phone systems can significantly minimise the number of abandoned calls a business gets thanks to the advanced call queuing features and options for customer service reporting.

Since Telappliant also offers integrations for hybrid working, it's a good option if you have employees working from home. It also has video conferencing and Microsoft Teams integration so workers can communicate with each other and receive calls via smartphones, laptops or desktops when required.

The Telappliant hybrid system has on-premise and cloud-based systems which can be customised to suit your business.

Although Telappliant's systems start at £6.95 per user per month, their best value option, which costs £15.95 per user per month, provides plenty more features.

With the best value option, you can configure a group of extension lines to call simultaneously with the ring groups feature. This option was not available on the basic price plan.

With Telappliant, there are several additional features with the more costly price plans. For instance, with their plan that costs £21.95, features such as unified communications call recording and single-user call monitoring options are available.

11. XLN

With XLN, there are several business phone systems available including a cloud voice mobile phone system, and access an auto-attendant feature for free.

The cloud voice option also offered us a free mobile and desktop app. There are a few different plans at different prices. The more expensive options have more features included.

With the full fibre broadband and cloud voice plan you can receive an IP handset for just £5.00 extra per month and a plug-and-play router. It also lets you keep your business number and make unlimited UK calls to landlines and mobiles.

The cloud voice mobile and desktop app costs £15.00 per month and comes with more than 50 free features. The full fibre broadband and cloud voice plan costs £30.95 per month. There's also a cloud voice and unlimited mobile data plan.

With the cloud voice and unlimited mobile data plan, which costs £25 per month, you can change between the cloud voice app and your mobile devices. It also includes unlimited mobile data and other perks such as free EU roaming options and you can make unlimited UK calls to mobiles and landlines. As with some alternative plans, we could also receive a free mobile and desktop app.

Small business telephone systems: The verdict

Small business telephone systems can be a handy addition to your company's tools. Having this system in your office can streamline communication and optimise the customer experience with advanced features. Although multiple brands and options exist, you have the perfect comparison starting point in this article.

Before you pick one, have a look at all of the features included and make sure these will be useful to your business. Then take a look at the prices along with customer reviews of the company before you buy.

Related Guides:

FAQs

What Is the Alternative to a Traditional Business Phone Line?

How Do I Set Up a Phone System in My Office?

How Much Is a Phone System for a Business?

What Is the Best Phone System for Small Businesses?

How Is a VoIP System Different From a Cloud Phone System?

What Is the Disadvantage of Cloud Telephone Systems?

Do VoIP Phones Work Without the Internet?

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