Today’s post is an update to something we’ve posted about a couple of times in the past: the best 800 phone number service for your business. These business phone number services have grown increasingly popular. They are a relatively cheap alternative to old-fashioned landline phone service and a versatile mode of communication for the entrepreneur who is often on-the-go and not housed in a traditional office or storefront.
In this 800 number service review, I will compare a few top companies that provide toll-free phone numbers for businesses: Phone.com, RingCentral, and Grasshopper. They all offer some of the same fundamental features—local and toll-free telephone numbers, customized greetings, multiple user extensions, mobile apps, caller ID. Still, there are some key differences in how they deliver their services and their ideal demographic. Looking at their pricing plans, the features they offer, and each company's strengths, I'll help guide you toward the best 800 number service to suit your entrepreneurial needs.
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Phone.com 800 Number Review
Phone.com is a quality VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone number service that is, at its most basic level, one of the cheaper options out there. Many of Phone.com’s features come standard with the basic plan, and at only $9.99/month for a single user, it is, at least on the surface, a great value. When you start to add on users/extensions (~ $24/month apiece) and add on some à la carte premium features, then the price gap between Phone.com and the other companies starts to narrow somewhat.
Phone.com is growing rapidly and has recently received some positive press for their patented SMS feature, which allows users to call and text to and from their Phone.com number. At its core, Phone.com sees itself not just as a phone number service for businesses but as a whole “system” to facilitate communications for small businesses. Unlike some other VoIP providers, they do not require the installation of new IP phones (although they do offer them) and instead allow users to use their mobile device as their company phone or even use their computer as a phone (what they call a “softphone”) with the download of Phone.com’s Communicator software.
Phone.com emphasizes the “self-service” aspect of their product, providing users with easy ways of utilizing, updating, tweaking, and adding to their Phone.com service through their iOS app. This is handy and can minimize the number of time users might spend on a call with a Phone.com support department. They really showcase their iPhone app, however, and don't address their Android app. This might be fine, but if I were an Android user, I would be sure to look into this app's functionality before signing up for Phone.com.
- HD Voice comes standard (A necessary quality boost to sometimes sketchy VoIP connections)
- Group SMS (Their own patented texting platform)
- Communicator software (Downloadable software to turn your computer into a phone)
Ring Central 800 Number Review
RingCentral is another established VoIP system that offers a lot of the same features as Phone.com but with a bit more old-school business infrastructure. They recommend the use of actual IP phones (desk phones and/or conferencing phones) alongside your computer and any mobile devices. You don’t necessarily have to buy the hardware—phones can be rented for a reasonable price—but either way, you’ll be looking at a more traditional office set-up with a RingCentral plan.
In addition to not being purely mobile, RingCentral also presents itself as a more traditional or larger-scale option with its emphasis on software integration. Their website touts their integration with office systems like Salesforce and Outlook, systems that can serve the small businessperson but that are especially popular among larger, more established industries. The pricing for RingCentral reflects this large-scale clientele—a number of the features that come standard with Phone.com (like HD Voice) or Grasshopper—are not available with RingCentral’s standard plan, so you might end up having to pay more overall to get a package offered more cheaply by other companies.
That said, RingCentral has some of-the-moment options; for instance, the company recently teamed up with Glip, a team messaging platform, to help provide more convenient communication options within and between companies. RingCentral also seems to be savvy about modern security issues, claiming that their centralized IP phone system helps maximize privacy and security (versus the vulnerability of a system based entirely on personal devices), so if you are dealing with sensitive client information this might appeal to you.
- Integrations with Salesforce, Outlook, Zendesk, etc.
- HD Voice (But only with premium plans – does not come standard)
Grasshopper 800 Number Review
Finally, Grasshopper is a comparable but fundamentally different 800 number service provider for large-scale and small businesses. The key difference is that Grasshopper is not a VoIP like Phone.com or RingCentral—instead of being subject to the quality of your internet, it is merely an “add-on” to your existing phone provider. This means that you don’t have to buy (or rent) any hardware, and you don’t have to download any software. As an entrepreneur with a relatively small operation, I like the simplicity of Grasshopper. (If you want more of a communication infrastructure, though, you could take comfort in the fact that Grasshopper is a new subsidiary of Citrix, an established giant in cloud computing.)
Grasshopper is also super easy to use and understand. Whereas other sites use lots of lists, charts, and business jargon (“Boost employee productivity and IT efficiency, enabling the shift of resources to more strategic initiatives.” –RingCentral.com), Grasshopper uses accessible wording and appealing infographics to explain its features in a simple way.
I have had a Grasshopper account since 2011 and have been very satisfied with the service. I especially like the Voice-to-Email function, since I’m often working at my computer and can’t take a call but can easily read an emailed transcription of any voicemail I receive. That feature is an extra $10/month, but with the standard $24/month plan it still ends up being cheaper than what a plan with that feature would cost on RingCentral.
- Call quality (Not a VoIP)
- No hardware to buy, no software to download
- An easy add-on to existing phone service (Not a whole “system,” just an agile supplement)
Bottom line: there's no need to look unprofessional as a small business (even just a one-person operation). There are affordable and easy-to-use options to present yourself as a professional, accessible company. Phone.com and RingCentral might serve your specific needs, especially if you have employees in a brick-and-mortar office or you are looking for a full-on communications system for your staff, but Grasshopper is an especially great option for the small-scale entrepreneur who needs something straightforward and reliable. If you do decide to go with Grasshopper, enjoy a $75 savings if you sign up through the link below! And whichever service you choose, enjoy stepping up to a new level of professionalism as an entrepreneur!
As always, please add your own thoughts in the comments below, and also share this post with any fellow entrepreneurs or small businesses who might find it helpful. Thanks!