An In-Depth Look at Vonage Essentials: Small Business VoIP

What is Vonage Essentials?

Vonage was an early platform in the VoIP field. It began offering residential phone service and now 2.5 million homes and businesses use Vonage. Vonage Essentials is one of the two VoIP business communications’ platforms that Vonage offers for small- to medium-size businesses. Vonage Essentials is a more basic platform that still offers a wide range of features and allows businesses the flexibility to scale up as they grow. The top tier plan, Vonage Premier, is intended for enterprise-level communications.

Vonage Essentials is one of two VoIP platforms

Vonage Essentials is a fully cloud-based, robust, and reliable communications system that includes over 40 business features and unified communications. There is a mobile app as well as desktop apps to link each employee's mobile phone with the business phone system and manage everything on the go. Vonage Essentials is intended for small- to medium-size businesses that need over 10 lines but don't yet feel the need for a private MPLS network or enterprise-level features. Vonage Essentials includes a softphone, is compatible with many types of hardware, and integrates with most existing business software suites.

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Pros

  • Plenty of extra business features to make your time more productive

  • Vonage has the largest infrastructure for higher call quality

  • Integrates with Amazon Chime Pro and other business software integrations

  • Fast and helpful live customer support 24/7

  • Easy setup with plug-and-play compatible phones

  • Simple and intuitive mobile app

Cons

  • Some features come at an extra cost which can get expensive

  • Although the mobile app is easy to setup, the desktop app can be a bit more challenging

Who Needs Vonage Essentials?

Every business needs an effective communications solution and once your business reaches a certain critical point, you'll need something robust enough to handle call transfers and eavesdropping. Vonage Essentials is ideal for most small- and medium-size businesses that need these features. It's easy to add on extra lines and Vonage offers them at a discount as soon as you're over 5 lines. With the special business features that Vonage offers and the discounts on extra lines, Vonage Essentials is best for businesses that need between 10 and 250 lines. Once you exceed 250 lines, you'll probably want to move onto Vonage's Premier platform.

Vonage is best for businesses that don't want the hassle and responsibility of managing a separate private network since everything is run and managed over the internet. The Vonage Essentials mobile app is perfect for small businesses that need to be both mobile and available to customers. Vonage Essentials is also a good choice for companies with virtual workers and multiple offices since it offers mobile conferencing and cloud-based mobile integrations to make a virtual office environment.

Vonage Essentials Special Features

Vonage Essentials provides over 40 business features which make it a versatile choice for businesses, although some of them need to be paid for separately as an add-on. Both local or geographic business phone numbers and a toll-free number are available to Vonage Essentials customers. Call forwarding and call flipping mean that you'll always be available for important business calls even when you're out the office. Businesses can collaborate through Vonage Essentials by using the conference call, file sharing, video conferencing, web conferencing, and paging group features. “Never miss a call” and fax services send you emails with the text of voicemail messages or a PDF of received faxes.

Vonage Essentials customer service features also make it easy for businesses to manage customer support through simultaneous ring, call logs, call hold, call waiting, and more. There are also many integrations with Vonage Essentials such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle, Bullhorn, NetSuite, Google G-Suite, and Zendesk.

Vonage has several helpful features for businesses

Vonage provides powerful mobile business communications through mobile conferencing, caller ID, follow-me call features, and more via an app that’s compatible with both Android and iOS.

Other useful features include:

  • Custom Call Tagging

  • Dynamic Caller ID

  • Music On Hold

  • Virtual Mailbox

  • Virtual Receptionist

  • Call Announce

  • Caller ID Block

  • Call Screening

  • Do Not Disturb

  • Spam Shield

  • Click-To-Dial

  • Directory Assistance (411)

Ease of Setup and Use

Setting up Vonage Essentials is fairly simple. If you buy Vonage pre-configured phones, either through Vonage or second hand, then you can use the plug-and-play set up and start pretty much straight away. You’ll be invited to schedule setup with a Vonage technician who guides new clients through the onboarding process. Before the remote startup appointment, Vonage will ask for some details about your network to help make it all run smoothly. If you use existing Vonage-compatible phones that aren’t branded Vonage phones, it will take a bit longer and might require an IT technician to reconfigure the phones to suit Vonage requirements.

Once you have the initial setup complete, Vonage Essentials administrators can continue to manage settings and options for all of the lines via the admin portal.

The admin portal is accessible both on the desktop and the mobile app via an intuitive dashboard, so administrators can adjust settings and check up on usage on the go. Regular users can also change their settings, default call forwarding options, and make other changes via both the desktop and mobile dashboard.

The Vonage dashboard is easy to access from mobile devices

Vonage Essentials Pricing

Vonage offers an impressive set of discounts for businesses that buy multiple lines. Vonage Essentials for just one line and up to five lines costs $39.99 per line, but that drops as you add more lines.

 1-5 lines6-9 lines10-20 lines21+ lines
Price per line$39.99$29.99$24.99$19.99

*Prices last updated January 2018

The price per line includes unlimited calls within the US and Canada and reasonable call charges to other countries. Small businesses that don't make many calls could instead opt for the metered extension option that begins at $14.99 for one line with calls costing $0.03 per minute. At certain times of the year, Vonage extends special offers like free phones and waived setup fees. Because you can use existing phones with Vonage Essentials, you can also save money on hardware costs.

Features that require extra payment include a toll-free number for $39.99, company-wide call recording for $39.99, call monitoring for $49.99, and paging groups for $4.99 per group. Most integrations and over 40 features are included in the basic price.

Customer Support

Vonage provides a high level of customer support through a US-based customer service team. You can get in touch 24/7 via phone or email as well as using the ticketed customer support system, although there's no live chat. The customer service staff are well trained and happy to help. Vonage also provides an extensive FAQ section for initial troubleshooting and the administrative portal on desktop and mobile permits round the clock changes to settings and configurations.

Conclusion

Vonage Essentials is an effective and efficient unified communications solution for small and medium-sized businesses. The range of features is impressive but can get pricey if you need too many of the extra options.

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