What do you do if you are a business and need an office telephone system? The old standard copper wire telephone system can work for many types of businesses, but is usually limited in the number of phone lines, extensions, and lacks modern features such as call forwarding, voicemail, and the ability to have remote workers; all features common to sophisticated telephone services available now. Editor’s Note: Legal Ink Magazine did not receive any free products or compensation from RingCentral for this review. Not too long ago the Private Branch Exchange or PBX was the most common solution for businesses large and small. Though costs did come down in the 1990s, a basic PBX system would still run in the thousands of dollars. The systems were complicated, had to be maintained, and upgrades often required replacing the entire system at considerable cost in both time and money. The Internet revolution has brought us a new technology called Voice over IP (VoIP) or IP telephony. A VoIP Provider allows businesses to have communication over the Internet without the need of the public switched telephone network (the copper wires that run to your house or business that are connected to your local telephone company). Using the Internet and web servers; a new type of phone system has evolved and it is a cloud-based business phone system that works over the Internet. Instead of having to purchase expensive equipment that requires maintenance and future hardware upgrades, all that is required is a set of IP telephones and a monthly fee to a service provider. VoIP is now so common in both the home and office, AT&T is making moves to slowly abandon wired phone networks altogether.
RingCentral VoIP Service
RingCentral allows you to use your existing business telephone numbers, have as many phones as need, have a greeting and voicemail system and a few features that make it smart for the modern office culture. These features include the ability to move locations instantly, add new users, change answering and forwarding rules at any time, have remote offices, remote employees, and be reached anywhere even on your cell phone. All of these features can be setup yourself through a control panel accessed on the Internet yourself without the need of programming and equipment upgrades. RingCentral has three pricing plans – Standard, Premium, and Enterprise. The basic program starts at $24.99 per month, per user. Please note that for you to use RingCentral (or any other VoIP service or sip trunk providers) your office will need to invest in a set of IP Telephones and a broadband Internet connection. IP Telephones can be purchased for as little as $100 per phone, or even leased from $7.00 per month. A broadband Internet connection will be required where each phone will be located. In our business case, we all work remotely, so each employee has a phone in their home office plugged into the Internet. On the phone’s display one can see your fellow employee’s extensions. One can view if staff are on the phone, talk to them directly, transfer them a call, and of course take incoming calls. It is just like the entire team is located in the same office, but with the added benefit that one could take the phone to another state or even country and be connected.
Phone System Setup
Our business decided to get phones that can handle up to 12 different lines and can display up to 10 different employees, which will allow us some future growth. However, if you believe your business or practice may need an increased number of phone lines as well as integrated modern technologies, such as real-time phone network monitoring, automated voicemails, and more, you can look here or at alternative business phone solutions that could be suitable for your business needs. After reviewing our company’s and employee’s phone needs we decided that a VoIP business phone system was best for our growing demands and after careful review we went with RingCentral. The phones come “Plug and Ring” ready and were shipped and received in about a week. Since they come ready and configured the only problem was figuring out which phone was which. They all arrive in identical boxes but with no markings, so we had to plug each one in one at a time to determine what extension it was. While this doesn’t take too long, it did require time. It would be nice if they came labeled to avoid this hassle. The most important part of the phone installation is the actual setup of the greetings, voicemail, and call handling. This is all completed over RingCentral’s website. However, before we got our phones, we first hired an Internet based greeting and voicemail recording company. All you have to do is type out your greetings and voicemail, choose your voice actor and wait about a week for them to send you the audio files. If you want your voicemail to sound professional it is well worth the small added cost to hire a company to record these for you. On to the hard part. RingCentral’s website is easy to use once you figure it out, however, setting up all of your phone system’s rules has a steep learning curve. First you setup the users and upload the greetings and voice mails announcements to the proper places. Then you have to make the settings for the phone system. These include: auto-receptionist, business hours, greetings, caller id, users, groups, call forwarding, call handling and other optional settings you may need. There are settings for all the business needs that we had, plus many more that we could have in the future. Luckily RingCentral had friendly support because we ended up needing to contact them several times to get the settings correct. After a few days of testing and making the needed changes to our phone settings we transferred our toll free and local number to RingCentral. This was easy for our toll free number, but due to the bureaucratic paperwork involved (not RingCental’s fault) in transferring the local number it took two attempts and over a week to get that number transferred over. Once the numbers were transferred over all of our calls starting coming in through our new IP phones. Our new phone system is 100 times better than our old system. All incoming calls are routed and answered by our employees and is sent directly to voicemail when we are closed. I can talk to another coworker by picking up the phone and hitting their extension button, or even transfer a call to them. RingCentral has other features, including fax. With RingCentral you don’t need a separate fax number. If someone wants to send you a fax all they need to do is dial your normal number and the fax is detected and answered automatically. Once received it is emailed to you. Other features you may be interested in are: mobile apps so you can use the service on your cell phone, conference calling, video conferencing, and business SMS.
The bottom Line
If you are in need of a business phone system and don’t want to purchase a PBX system, you have remote employees, you don’t want to deal with equipment or upgrading hassles, choosing a cloud-based business phone system is a smart choice given today’s technology driven world. With all of the features and options available our callers have no clue we all work from home and our greeting system sounds like a million bucks.
Overall Rating: 8/10
Overall I give RingCentral and their business phone system high ratings for both features and great customer support. The complexity of setting up the system and need to contact customer support several times allows me to rate RingCentral at 8.0 on (a scale of 1 to 10.) Once your phone system settings are set properly it works, but it can take a bit of time to get them set correctly.
- Ability to add phones when you need them
- Ability to move your office or phones anywhere there is an Internet connection
- System works like a PBX even for remote workers
- Full suite of features allow you to setup your phone system to your needs
- Customer support is friendly and helpful
- Complex initial setup required customer support
- High initial cost to purchase feature rich phones
- Not labeling phones when they are shipped
For further information about RingCentral please visit their website.