1. Business Ideas
  2. Business Plans
  3. Startup Basics
  4. Startup Funding
  5. Franchising
  6. Success Stories
  7. Entrepreneurs
  1. Sales & Marketing
  2. Finances
  3. Your Team
  4. Technology
  5. Social Media
  6. Security
  1. Get the Job
  2. Get Ahead
  3. Office Life
  4. Work-Life Balance
  5. Home Office
  1. Leadership
  2. Women in Business
  3. Managing
  4. Strategy
  5. Personal Growth
  1. HR Solutions
  2. Financial Solutions
  3. Marketing Solutions
  4. Security Solutions
  5. Retail Solutions
  6. SMB Solutions
Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Find a Solution Small Business Solutions

RingCentral Review: Best Virtual Phone System

RingCentral Review: Best Virtual Phone System

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend RingCentral as our 2017 pick for the best virtual phone system for businesses with a mobile workforce. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology, as well as a comprehensive list of business phone systems, on our best picks page.

RingCentral's virtual phone system is easy to use and offers a wealth of features that are well suited for businesses with remote employees. There is also a hybrid option that includes one full-featured VoIP phone line. RingCentral's virtual service, RingCentral Professional, costs between $12.99 and $49.99 per month.

RingCentral Professional is a virtual phone system that doesn't require any equipment, IP phones or special wiring. Instead, the system serves as an extensive call-forwarding service that gives employees the freedom to work from home or on the road without missing a business call.

RingCentral Professional is easy to set up and use. Since the sign-up process is completed online, you can have the system up and running in just a few minutes.

The first step is to pick a local or toll-free business phone number. If you already have a number you want to use, it can be transferred into the system for no additional cost.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

buyerzone widget

Once you have a number, you have immediate access to the service and can start personalizing it via an online portal. The interface is well labeled and simple to navigate. It includes tabs for messages, activity logs, contacts, settings, billing and tools. [See Related Story: VoIP for Business: Why It Makes Sense]

After each employee is assigned their own extension, such as 101, 102 or 103, they log in to the system to set the numbers they want their calls forwarded to. Employees can forward calls to multiple numbers and configure the service to ring their selected numbers simultaneously or in sequential order. This lets employees work from anywhere without changing their forwarding number when switching locations. Employees can have as many as 10 call-forwarding numbers in their queue.

From the caller's perspective, the process is as simple as calling an office-based business. When customers or clients call the main business number, they hear a professional business greeting, followed by the auto-receptionist asking them to hold while the service locates the employee they are trying to reach. The call is transferred immediately to the employee, or the employee can have the auto-attendant ask the caller to state his or her name so they know who is calling before deciding if they should answer the call or send it to voicemail.

In addition to setting up the call forwarding, the online portal provides access to voicemail messages and online faxes.

Along with its completely virtual system, RingCentral now offers the option to add in one traditional VoIP line. This hybrid version gives access to one RingCentral Office line. RingCentral Office is a cloud-based VoIP system that allows employees to make and receive calls. Businesses that choose this plan, Office All-in-One Standard, can select who they want using the RingCentral Office line. The rest of the employees will have access to only the virtual system and its features.

Should your business grow to where you need more RingCentral Office lines, you can easily upgrade. The RingCentral Office interface and online portal are exactly the same as on the Professional version, making the switch rather seamless. 

RingCentral's virtual service offers a comprehensive suite of calling features that allow businesses with a mobile workforce to present a professional image. All of the features, except for the dial-by-name directory and dedicated fax number, come standard with each service plan. Many of the other providers we examined charge extra for some of their best features.

One of the features we like most is the ability to use softphones, which let you receive calls on your computer. All you need to do is download the RingCentral for Desktop app and plug in a headset to start answering calls. This feature is a nice option because it does not chew up any mobile minutes or tie up phone lines. Not all of the companies we looked into offer this feature.

The system also includes an auto-receptionist feature, which welcomes callers with a custom company greeting and directs them to the person or department they want to reach. You have the option of recording your own greeting or having it professionally recorded by RingCentral partner Snap Recordings.

RingCentral Professional offers several voicemail options. In addition to being able to check messages over the phone, you can have voice messages sent directly to an email inbox. There is also visual voicemail via the system's online portal or mobile app that shows all the voicemails you have waiting so you can prioritize whom to call back.

The RingCentral mobile app, available on iOS and Android devices, allows you to take business calls using an internet connection rather than mobile phone minutes. In addition, the mobile app gives users the option to change call-forwarding settings and check visual voicemail wherever they are.

Some of the other features we found valuable are call recording, on-hold music, and instant alerts via email or text message when you miss a call or have a voicemail or online fax waiting for you. You can see the full list of features available on the virtual-only plans on the RingCentral website.

The Office All-in-One Standard plan provides a number of additional features for the person using the RingCentral Office line. That person also has access to conference calling, video meetings, and integrations with Google and Microsoft. The full list of RingCentral Office features can be found online.

With RingCentral Professional, you pay a monthly fee based on how many extensions and minutes you want. Unlike with some of the other virtual systems we analyzed, there are no setup or activation fees.

You can pay for the service on a month-to-month basis or annually. If you sign a one-year contract, the price of each service plan is significantly reduced. RingCentral Professional is available in three service plans:

Pro

  • Cost: $12.99 per month with yearly contract; $22.99 per month with no contract
  • Minutes: 300 local, long-distance and toll-free minutes included
  • Extensions: Two included
  • Support options: Web only

ProPlus

  • Cost: $19.99 per month with yearly contract; $29.99 per month with no contract
  • Minutes: 1,000 local, long-distance and toll-free minutes included
  • Extensions: Five included
  • Support options: Web and phone

Office All-in-One Standard

  • Cost: $34.99 per month with yearly contract; $49.99 per month with no contract
  • Minutes: Unlimited local and long-distance minutes and 1,000 toll-free minutes included
  • Extensions: 10 included, plus one RingCentral Office line
  • Support options: Web and phone

While the Pro plan does include online faxing, the ProPlus and Office All-in-One Standard plans include a dedicated fax number. These two plans also offer a dial-by-name directory.

The only other costs you can incur with this service are $4.99 per month for additional local or toll-free phone numbers, $2.99 per month for additional extensions, and $4.99 per month for a dedicated fax number. There is also a one-time $30 fee for vanity numbers.

RingCentral offers a seven-day free trial to see if the service works for you.

Overall, we were pretty pleased with the customer service we received from RingCentral. To gauge the type of support you can expect, we called the company numerous times posing as a new business owner interested in virtual phone systems.

While our first experience with the RingCentral team was disappointing, the several times we called since were a significant improvement. During our initial call, the representative we spoke with gave short answers to our questions and seemed uninterested in spending time on the phone with us.

However, during subsequent calls, the support improved dramatically. The representatives didn't rush us off the call and gave clear and detailed answers to all our questions.

We also evaluated RingCentral's live chat support. The service we received from this outlet was a little hit or miss. While some of our questions were answered relatively quickly, it took other representatives 15 to 30 minutes to answer us, and one time, our question went completely unanswered. There was a time when we weren't even able to ask a question because it said no agents were available.

RingCentral offers support over the phone Monday through Friday between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. PST. However, all RingCentral users can submit a support case online 24/7.

The RingCentral website offers a host of support materials, including a comprehensive learning center and knowledge base, as well as a litany of FAQs, user guides and videos.

RingCentral is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau and has an A+ rating. As of August 2017, there had been 213 complaints filed against RingCentral with the BBB over the past three years. Of those, 72 were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant. The BBB reports that RingCentral did address the other complaints; however, the customers responded that they were not happy with the result or never let the BBB know if they were satisfied with the response.

It is important to note, however, that not all of these complaints concern RingCentral's virtual system. These complaints encompass all of RingCentral's products and services. To read more about the nature of each complaint, visit the Better Business Bureau website.

The biggest downside of RingCentral is its inconsistent customer service. While most of our interactions were positive, our initial one left a lot to be desired and gave us a poor first impression. We have been pleased, however, to see that the service has improved since our first contact with the company. While the phone support has been better, the live chat support still needs improvement.

Another negative with RingCentral's virtual system is that, when using the mobile app, you can't have your business-line caller ID displayed when making outbound calls. If this is a feature your business must have in a virtual system, we would encourage you to consider our second choice for this category, Grasshopper.

Grasshopper is a virtual system that works similarly to RingCentral Professional. While it doesn't have all of the features RingCentral does, it offers many of the most important ones, including an auto-attendant, call screening, voicemail-to-email, conference calling and on-hold music.

We were also very pleased with the support we received from Grasshopper. Each time we called the company, we spoke to helpful and responsive representatives, each of whom provided clear and thorough answers to all of our questions.

Grasshopper is available in three service plans that each include unlimited minutes. They range from $24 per month for one number and three extensions to $89 per month for five numbers and unlimited extensions.

However, Grasshopper only offers a virtual system. So, if you think your business might grow out of a service like this, you won't be able to obtain a traditional phone system from this company.

Best for Small Businesses
8x8
Read Review
  • On-Premise or Cloud
    Cloud
  • Total # of Calling Features
    60+
  • Customer Service
    Phone and email
  • Mobile App
    iPhone and Android
Best for Small Offices
Ooma Office
Read Review
  • On-Premise or Cloud
    On-premise
  • Total # of Calling Features
    20+
  • Customer Service
    Phone and email
  • Mobile App
    iPhone and Android
Best Virtual Phone System
RingCentral
Read Review
  • On-Premise or Cloud
    Cloud
  • Total # of Calling Features
    20+ (Virtual System Only)
  • Customer Service
    Phone, email, live chat
  • Mobile App
    iPhone and Android
Best for Call Centers
ShoreTel
Read Review
  • On-Premise of Cloud
    Both
  • Total # of Calling Features
    100+
  • Customer Service
    Phone and Email
  • Mobile App
    iPhone and Android

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

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

buyerzone widget
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based 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.