An In-Depth Look at Vonage Business Cloud (Essentials): SMBs VoIP
Businesses of all sizes need to consider choosing Vonage. Besides the major savings that businesses see—an average of 36% on phone bills when compared to landlines—Vonage Business has over 40 calling features built in to its business service and provides users with high-quality, clear voice services and an easy setup.
Business communication is one of the most vital aspects of making sure your business is successful and running smoothly. The ability to seamlessly communicate with people inside and outside your company—and your customer base—can make a major difference in the day-to-day operations of your company and your bottom line.
No matter how large or small your business is, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system can make your business communication more efficient, reliable, and affordable.
A cloud-hosted VoIP business phone service is hosted by a third party provider and not on-site by your company. This is typically a good idea for smaller and medium-sized companies that may not have an IT team and don’t want to be in charge of managing their telecommunications system. It also requires less of an investment in hardware for your office and tends to be very scalable.
Cloud communications in general tend to be more cost-effective and user-friendly in that users only pay for the services they use and not for running the cloud or paying for expensive equipment and maintenance.
For cloud-hosted business VoIP options for small and medium-sized businesses, Vonage Business cloud is a solid option.
Easy to set up and fully scalable, business cloud offers 3 separate pricing plans depending on what you need. Starting with the Mobile plan at $19.99/month, and up through the Premium and Advanced plans ($29.99 and $39.99 per month, respectively) all plans come with 99.999% uptime, additional bandwidth (SD-WAN), unlimited calling and text messages, mobile and desktop apps, and vonage flow team messaging.
Once you upgrade to premium you can also benefit from video conferencing, chat and file sharing as well as a host of integrations with top customer relations management tools. With the Advanced plan, you’ll also get visual voicemail, call recording, call group and a dedicated team of experts for your account set up and onboarding.
And when it comes to integrations, on Business Cloud you can set up your account to run with programs including Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, G Suite, Zendesk, and more.
|Why This Plan?|
Communicate through your mobile device and desktop. Great for remote teams—and any business that doesn’t need desk phones.
Communicate and collaborate on any device, including your desk phones. Best for traditional office environments.
Unify your business communications with Vonage’s most popular add-on features, and get a dedicated team for setup and onboarding.
|Unlimited Calling and SMS|
|Mobile App (iPhone, iPad, Android)|
|VonageFlow (team messaging)|
|Video Conferencing. Chat & File Sharing||-||Up to 100 people||Up to 100 people|
|Call Recording: On-Demand||-||-||15 hours per month|
The features you’ll have on your business VoIP depend on which plan you sign up for, though some tend to be universal. All plans come with unlimited domestic calls and text messages, and also have a mobile app to allow you to keep things running smoothly even if you’re far from the office.
Other features that tend to be optional include a virtual receptionist to route calls, call recording for security and customer service purposes, extensive integrations, call monitoring for data, 24/7 support, and video conferencing for dozens, even over 100 participants.
When deciding which plan to go with, take a look at your business and what your needs are, and whether or not it makes sense to pay more for features you might not use.
Vonage extensions start from as little as $19.99. The actual price you’ll pay for the extensions depends on the number of lines you need for your business.
To connect to the service, you can use the company’s range of VoIP-ready phones. Vonage often runs big discounts on set-up fees for new subscribers, offering perks like a free handset per extension for businesses connecting more than 20 lines.
There are 3 extension options per customer—unlimited, metered and virtual.
The Unlimited Vonage plan allows you to make and receive calls across the continental U.S. and Canada for one flat fee per month. For calls to Alaska, Hawaii and U.S. territories, there is a small per-minute charge added onto your calls.
For most Vonage business users, it’s best to make the investment in the unlimited package. If you’re a light user and don’t expect to make a lot of calls, consider the metered extension. There’s a low, flat monthly rate and calls are billed at just 3 cents per minute across the continental U.S. and Canada.
The Virtual Extension service is a simplified business VoIP system that will divert your calls to a mobile phone or another external phone number. This option is ideal for employees who are regularly in the field, or traveling for sales and marketing, etc.
With Vonage Business, the standard desktop connection works just like any other VoIP provider, but that’s not the only way you can connect to your Vonage account. For micro-businesses, the company offers Vonage® DesktopConnect, the company’s app for Windows.
This is a desktop program known as a “softphone” that allows you to use VoIP from your PC. You can make calls using the integrated softphone app and also send text messages, check contact history, missed calls, and even listen to voicemail. All you need to make it work is a headset with a microphone (available in both USB and Bluetooth.).
Vonage also offers business VoIP phones and other add-ons to customers from brand leaders including Cisco, Polycom, Panasonic and Yealink. If you have existing VoIP ready phones, those can be used or you can purchase and use virtually any corded or cordless VoIP capable phone for use on the Vonage network.
For the next level and beyond, there’s Vonage Enterprise. This plan is all about taking the complex communications of growing companies and making it easier for people to connect and collaborate in office and remotely.
With Enterprise, you get your own private and fully-managed network and an omni channel model for viewing your customers and business operations all under one roof. Vonage uses multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and software-defined networking (SD-WAN) to keep your communications running smoothly without dropped calls or other hiccups in the service.
There are dozens of features that come with Enterprise, though with the Enterprise Plus package you’ll enjoy some exclusive ones, such as auto attendant, desktop sharing for up to 8 users, a mobile connect softphone, and more.
Vonage Enterprise Plans - a look at the specs
|Enterprise Plans||Premier Basic||Premier UC||Premier Plus|
Included with additional cost
|Mobileconnect IM and Presence|
Vonage Chime is a new communications and online meeting service offered by Amazon. It gives users top-notch conferencing and collaboration tools for online meetings, video conferencing and chat rooms. All new users get access to the top tier of Amazon Chime with all Vonage business cloud phone plans, which includes high-quality video and audio, a mobile app, conferencing for up to 100 people, and automatic call reconnection. Other unique features for meetings include:
Vonage understands that life happens, especially when you’re trying to run a business. And when things don’t go right, it’s not always during normal business hours. You’ll never have to worry about disconnects with Vonage’s 24/7 customer service and tech support.
Outside of the toll-free customer service center, there is also a huge self-help section on the company’s website. It’s written in a very friendly, non-technical way and covers all aspects of Vonage’s service. The support portal includes helpful articles, and a searchable knowledge base to help you tackle any issues that might arise.
Calls to international numbers are incredibly competitive, and Vonage is supremely confident that no other VoIP provider can beat its rates. There’s no requirement for you to pay a monthly surcharge to access the rates, either.
To access it, go through your normal Vonage business login process. Then, simply switch on your “International Long Distance” feature on your account. This gives you access to the heavily discounted landline and mobile phones.
Vonage’s version of the auto attendant service is called the “Virtual Receptionist.” You’ll know this feature best as “press 1 for sales, press 2 for accounts” and so on.
You can set up as many virtual receptionists as you like with the service. The experience you give inbound callers is something you can specifically tailor-make to suit the business and help people who want to connect with you. Calls can either be routed to an individual number or distributed as part of a call group (for example, the technical department might be a call group).
According to Vonage, this is “not only one of the most popular (features), but it’s also the feature that most businesses set up first.” With it, you can connect customers and suppliers to the most appropriate contact without the need for multiple transfers or accidental dropped calls.
After using your Vonage business login, you’ll gain access to your administrative portal that offers a seriously intuitive and easy-to-maintain call management system that is rich with customizable features.
For example, call queueing allows you to keep callers on the line when there’s no one available to pick up the phone. You can use the time the callers are waiting to pass on information and promote your special offers.
This is a technique that local businesses, like restaurants, often use to promote specials. Depending on your business model, it could be a smart way to improve the average order volume and lifetime value of your customer.
Another indispensable feature is “Never Miss A Call.”
You can have your VoIP system:
You’ll have complete control of your virtual extensions, call groups, and more from a simple interface that you can access from anywhere you have an internet connection.
You won’t find the fax feature as a standard item with Vonage for business, but given the ability to handle documents easily through digital means like email, it’s not an issue for most businesses.
If you absolutely must have the ability to send and receive a fax, Vonage provides users this option (from both desktop and mobile) for a small monthly fee. Any faxes you receive are delivered straight to your email.
With the mobile app, your team can make and receive business calls or texts from any device using your Vonage account. The application offers virtually all the same features and functionality as a desk phone, and offers seamless integration with your Vonage business account.
Any calls made by your mobile device will list the caller ID for that user, or your company, which reinforces your brand identity and professionalism. Your contacts will never know that you’re working outside of the office, or enjoying a coffee at Starbucks.
Subscribers can download the Vonage app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Vonage’s comprehensive business VoIP solutions have earned the company a slew of industry accolades.
Major business consulting firm Frost & Sullivan in 2017 awarded Vonage its North American Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership award for the Vonage API platform. In a press release at the time, Frost & Sullivan VP and Senior Fellow Elka Popova said that Vonage’s cloud communications methods “can lead to accelerated decision making, enhanced employee productivity, increased speed to market, improved customer satisfaction and increased profitability for businesses.
Earlier this year, Vonage was named as one of the winners of the “Internet Telephony Product of the Year Award” by TMCnet for the company’s Vonage Integration Suite and Vonage Essentials Mobile App Upgrade. In 2017, the company won TMCnet’s Product of the Year Award for Vonage Business MobileConnect App for Apple iOS 10.
In November 2017, Vonage was named as a winner of the Fierce Innovation Awards for the Nexmo Voice API.
In March 2016, Vonage won the 2016 People’s Choice Stevie Award for Favorite Customer Service.
Vonage boasts all-around savings of around 36% against traditional phone systems for users who subscribe to the Vonage business service. There are a wealth of features available, giving users a great deal of value for the money.
Likewise, additional premium features and a la carte account customization make for a great deal of flexibility and scalability that should be attractive for small- to midsize businesses looking to grow.
If your business is getting ready to make the change to VoIP, Vonage offers an attractive solution that could easily grow with you. If VoIP is new to you, you’ll find Vonage setup easy and straightforward, with some of the industry’s best support should you ever need it.