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Nextiva Review: Best Business Phone System for Call Centers

After conducting extensive research and analysis of business phone systems, we recommend Nextiva as the best business phone system for call centers.

Nextiva is easy to configure and use, and provides all of the tools necessary to run a complete and professional call center.

Nextiva is a cloud-based Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system that doesn't require any complex on-premises hardware or wiring. All that's needed are high-speed Internet access and special IP phones. 

What makes it such an attractive option is that rather than having to purchase two separate phone systems — one for your call center and one for the rest of your business — the Nextiva system is able to handle it all. In essence, the call center plan is a service that is tacked onto the company's general office phone service. This gives you the option of not having to purchase the call center tools for all of your employees. Instead, you only need to buy the extra features for the employees who are part of the call center team. Some of the other systems we looked into didn't offer this level of customization.

You control the system through Nextiva's online portal, which is divided into several sections: account setup, services, usage and billing. In the online portal you can add employees into the system, assign them phone numbers and users IDs, record automated greetings and create call queue routes and priorities. This is also where you assign which features each employee has access to, something we found very appealing. This makes adding or subtracting employees from the call center team very easy.

Editor's Note: Looking for a phone system for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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When launching the call center service, Nextiva provides a dedicated onboarding technician that personally assists you with your system setup and answers all your questions. While the regular phone system is pretty straightforward, the call center features are a bit more complex, so we like that you don't have to teach yourself everything there is to know. This added personal attention isn't something all of Nextiva's competitors offered. [See Related Story: VoIP for Business: Why It Makes Sense]

If you buy phones from Nextiva, they come preconfigured and ready to use upon arrival. If you have your own phones, or would rather buy from another vendor, you can configure them in just four steps. We like that there is no lengthy setup period. It can all be done quickly and easily, without the assistance of a specialized IT staff.

What makes Nextiva so appealing to businesses with a call center is its reliability. Nextiva had the highest reported uptime over the last year (99.999 percent) that we found during our analysis of business phone systems. That means that systemwide, among its 20 million users, phone connectivity was down for less than a handful of minutes. The last time Nextiva had a systemwide outage was a year and a half ago.

The company takes several steps to help ensure its systems are always up and running, including working off of multiple servers. Instead of having just one or two servers that store all of its customers' data, Nextiva operates six. So if one server goes down, the data is just rolled over to one of the other five. In addition, should one server need to be repaired, the company is able to transfer that data to one of the other servers so your phone service is never interrupted. 

We also were impressed with the HD voice quality feature the system uses. This makes for crystal-clear calls by eliminating all static and service degradation. This feature, which many other providers don't offer, makes it seem like you are in the same room as the person on the other end of the line.

Nextiva's pricing structure of only having to purchase call center services for your call center team helps make it such an attractive option.

Since the cloud-based system doesn't require PBX hardware, the only costs you incur with Nextiva are monthly service fees. These fees are broken up into two parts: the general office phone services and the call center services. While Nextiva does offer three different office phone system plans, the one a business with a call center needs is the most robust option — the Office Enterprise plan. The service is $39.95 per month for between five and 19 employees and $34.99 for between 20 and 99 users. However, those prices drop by $2 per employee if you're willing to sign a 3-year contract. 

Included in those costs are all of Nextiva's business phone system features, such as unlimited local and long-distance calling, toll-free numbers, online faxing, conference calling, voicemail, an auto-attendant and a mobile app that gives employees full access to the phone system while out of the office. The only feature that costs extra is a voicemail-to-text option, which is $2.95 per line.

The second part of the monthly service fee is for the call center plan, which only needs to be purchased for the staff members who are working in the call center. While typically this costs an extra $100 a month, each time we called to inquire on the pricing the sales agents we spoke with said they would give it to us for $50 per month, per employee. It is important to remember, however, that the costs of the call center plan are in addition to the general office plan.

The call center plan includes all of the features needed to run an effective call center, such as an agent status display, automatic call distribution, call queues and call monitoring. One add-on tool businesses may find useful is the supervisor dashboard, which is $70 per month. This allows those in charge to run call reports on their employees so they can see how many calls each is making, how long the calls are, etc.

To sweeten the deal, the company periodically offers promotions, such as free phones, 50 percent off your second bill, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

When it comes to features, Nextiva has everything you would need in both an office and call center phone system. We like that between the two plans, you have access to nearly any and every feature that you could think of. Some of the impressive features that are available to all users, not just those on the call center team, include unlimited online faxing, an auto-attendant, conference calling for up to nine employees, and the option to receive voicemails via email and text messages. 

The Nextiva mobile app is also very valuable. It allows you to make and receive phone calls on your business line, make video calls, instant message with co-workers, access your company directory and update and modify call settings, including the do-not-disturb, advanced-call forwarding, and simultaneous ring options.

For members of the call center team, there is a set of additional impressive features that are designed to help improve both the caller experience and the job of those answering the calls. The call center plan includes an advanced interactive voice- response (IVR) system that not only quickly directs callers to the right agent, but also plays greetings, music, advertisements and periodic comfort announcements to callers on hold. 

Among the other more valuable call center features are the ability to record calls for monitoring and training purposes, and silent monitoring and call-barging, which allows supervisors to silently listen in on an agent's call and "barge in" if needed for quality or training purposes.

One feature we really like is the remote agent support. This allows you to set up phone service for agents who aren't located in the office. With this, remote employees can make and receive calls from anywhere, as well as manage those calls just like in-office employees can. We like that with this option, even a call center business can institute work-from-home programs. 

The complexity and range of Nextiva's features surpass those of all of its rivals.

Of the providers we examined, few offered us better customer service than Nextiva. To determine the level of support that a typical customer would receive, we called the company multiple times posing as a new business owner interested in phone systems.

During our first call, the Nextiva representative we spoke with could not have provided a clearer understanding of what the company had to offer. He spent nearly an hour on the phone with us, which was substantially longer than every other provider we talked to, answering our questions and outlining every aspect of the phone system. When possible, he even took the time to demonstrate the different features. For example, he toggled back and forth between a regular connection and an HD connection to show us how much clearer it was and put us on hold so we could hear the on-hold music and announcements. 

During subsequent calls we found the same high level of service. During those calls we spent time discussing how the system worked, its reliability measures, how the regular phone system differed from the call center system and all of the features included.

During each of our calls we received detailed price quotes from the representative. They explained how the pricing structure worked and how the prices quoted would increase or decrease based on staffing levels. We were impressed with how upfront Nextiva was with its pricing. Many of the other providers we spoke weren't as straightforward with their costs.

We especially liked that the representatives didn't spend time trying to pressure us into making a quick decision on purchasing the service. They were much more respectful of our needs and timelines than many of the other services we investigated.

In addition to phone support, we also tested out the live-chat option, which was just as helpful. When we had quick questions, we sent them along and they were answered within seconds. Many of the other providers we looked into didn't offer this support option, or weren't nearly as responsive with it as Nextiva was.

For users who need help, the entire support team is U.S.-based and available via phone, email and live chat between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Mountain Time Zone) Monday through Friday and Saturdays between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.  

The price of the call center service could be a problem for some businesses. Although the costs of the general office phone service is on a par with many other providers, the added call center features can be quite expensive, especially if you're not offered the 50 percent off discount like we were. While it wasn't the most expensive service we found, it also wasn't the cheapest. However, those who offered a cheaper system didn't give us the same level of comfort in regards to its reliability and level of service.

Another downside of the service is that customer support isn't offered at all on Sundays or at night. Some of the other providers we examined offered users a way to reach their customer support team, such as via live chat, around the clock.

We chose Nextiva from a pool of the dozens of business phone systems we considered. To read our full methodology and for a more comprehensive list of phone systems, visit our best picks page here.

Ready to choose a business phone system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: Looking for a phone system for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site BuyerZone provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.