After conducting extensive research and analysis in 2017, we recommend Ooma Office as the best business phone system for small offices. We chose Ooma Office from a pool of the dozens of business phone systems we considered. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of business phone systems on our best picks page.
Why Ooma Office?
Ooma Office is specifically designed for very small businesses and is available as either a traditional phone system or virtual-only system. Both options offer a suite of features. Ooma Office costs between $9.99 and $19.99 per user, per month.
Ease of Use
What makes Ooma Office an ideal phone system for very small businesses is how simple it is to install and use. The system can be set up in just 20 minutes. No additional wires are needed, and Ooma Office works with any type of phone, including standard analog phones.
The system itself includes a base unit, which is a full router capable of prioritizing voice data and directing traffic to ensure reliable phone service, and Linx devices, which are used to wirelessly connect analog phones to the system. You can connect up to four Linx devices to the base unit. If your business has more than five employees, you need an expansion base station and additional Linx devices. Each expansion base station supports up to five additional users. Ooma Office can be used by as many as 20 employees.
After activating your account via the Ooma online portal, you select a new main local or toll-free business phone number, or a temporary number if you plan on transferring over a current phone number. Once that has been assigned, you set up the system's hardware by connecting the base unit to a high-speed modem. You then plug the AC adapter into a power outlet and plug a phone into the base unit. When this base unit turns blue, you can immediately start making and receiving calls.
Once the base station is working, you can connect additional phones to the system for each of your employees. To connect an IP phone to the system, you just plug the phone into your local area network. When connecting analog phones you use the Linx wireless devices. [See Related Story: VoIP for Business: Why It Makes Sense]
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:
You configure the phone system itself via the Ooma online portal. The portal is where you assign employees extensions and phone numbers, set up the automated attendant, and create ring groups. The portal requires no extensive training and can be updated and maintained by anyone, not just those with phone system expertise.
Though it doesn't include every feature offered by other providers, Ooma Office does have many of the features small offices would find most valuable.
One of these is the virtual receptionist, which answers incoming calls and makes it easy for callers to reach the employees they need. The virtual receptionist uses text-to-speech technology, so you simply type in what you want it to say, and it automatically converts that into a recording for your callers. You also have the option to record your own greeting and upload it to the system.
In addition to directing callers to specific employees, the virtual receptionist can provide information on your business, such as the hours it's open or the directions to get there. The system can also play one set of greetings when a business is open and another when it's closed.
For companies with employees who don't always work in the office, the system can assign virtual extensions. With this feature, anytime someone dials those employees' extensions, the call is forwarded to their home or mobile devices.
All users have access to the Ooma mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. With the app, you can make and receive phone calls from anywhere as if you were in the office.
Another feature we like is the ring group option. This allows businesses to group employees by departments. So, for example, if you have multiple employees who work on a sales team or in customer support, you can have those calls directed to that group of employees. You can have calls transferred to employees in a specific sequence or simultaneously.
Other available features include caller ID, call logs, the ability to set up conference calls for as many as 10 users, and the option to play music or company messages while callers are on hold.
Businesses using IP phones have access to several other features: three-way conference calling; a do-not-disturb function; and the ability to transfer calls, put calls on hold and dial by extension.
You can see the complete list of features on the Ooma Office website.
In addition to the traditional phone system, Ooma now offers a virtual-only phone service. Instead of purchasing the hardware and using analog or IP phones, Ooma Office for Mobile is a virtual system that relies solely on mobile devices.
The system basically serves as an extensive call-forwarding service. You choose a main number and provide employees with their own extensions. When someone calls the main number and dials an extension, the call is automatically forwarded to the appropriate employee's mobile device.
Ooma Office for Mobile supports up to 20 users, just like the traditional system, and includes all of the same features.
The cost of Ooma Office is broken into one-time hardware costs and monthly service fees.
The starter package of a base station and two Linx wireless devices is $250. Each additional Linx device is $50, and each office expansion unit is $99. However, Ooma does run promotions regularly. Each time we have conducted our research, the starter package has been on sale for between $150 and $200.
The second half of the cost equation is the monthly service fee. The service starts at $19.98 per month for one phone number and one user. Each additional user is $9.99 per month. With this option, each employee has his or her own extension. If you want everyone to have a dedicated phone number, there is an additional charge of $9.99 per user, per month.
We like this pricing structure because nearly all of the features are included in the price. Many of the other services we analyzed had a variety of plans that each included a different number of features for a different price. The only features that cost extra with Ooma are internet faxing, conference calling and access to a toll-free number, each of which cost $9.99 per month.
Included in the cost of the system is unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada for each local number. If you are using a toll-free number, it includes only 500 minutes of inbound calling each month. Additional minutes are 3.4 cents each.
While many of the other VoIP cloud-based systems we looked at didn't charge the initial hardware fees, they did require you to purchase phones that cost between $100 and $500 each. While you can purchase IP phones for Ooma Office, you aren't required to do so. In addition, some of the other companies charged an activation fee and had yearlong contracts, but Ooma Office charges neither of these.
If you do want an IP phone to use with the system, Ooma offers three office phones for between $70 and $130 each. The service also offers a conference phone, for $400.
Ooma Office for Mobile involves only monthly service fees and no hardware to purchase. It costs $19.99 per user for Ooma Office for Mobile.
We were impressed with how straightforward the company's pricing was. Many of the other providers we examined gave us estimated costs and said they would get us a more definite quote only when we were ready to sign up for the system.
There is a 30-day risk-free trial for both Ooma Office and Ooma Office for Mobile.
We were pleased with the customer service we received from Ooma. To gauge the type of support customers can expect, we called the company multiple times, posing as a new small business owner interested in phone systems.
During our first call, the Ooma representative started off our conversation by trying to make sure our business was a good fit for the system. Knowing that Ooma is designed for very small businesses, the representative wanted to ensure that we wouldn't be better served by another provider that catered to larger businesses. After deciding we would be a good match based on our size and needs, the representative thoroughly walked us through all of the service's calling features and how the system worked.
During subsequent calls, we spoke with representatives who were just as helpful and friendly. In each of our calls, our questions were answered clearly and thoroughly. Some of the other providers we spoke with didn't provide the same level of detailed answers that Ooma did. Each representative we spoke with followed up several times via email, inquiring if we had additional questions, providing us with videos the showed how the system operated and informing us of several promotions.
There was one slight hiccup during one of our calls to the company. Our call was answered immediately; however, instead of being greeted by a representative, we could only hear people talking in the background. To Ooma's credit however, they recognized what had happened and returned our call within a few minutes to see if we needed more information on the system.
To further examine the company's customer service, we also tested out the live-chat tool on Ooma's website. Unlike with some of the other services we ealuated, Ooma's chat tool was very helpful and extremely prompt. When we tested other providers' live-chat options, some representatives gave us incomplete or differing answers from what we got over the phone, or took a long time to respond.
For users of the system, Ooma offers a variety of support options on its website, including video tutorials, answers to frequently asked questions and ways to troubleshoot any problems you may encounter.
Support is available by phone Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT and on the weekends between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT. You can also contact support via email and live chat 24/7. Not all of the systems we investigated offered the ability to reach a support representative around the clock.
Ooma is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau and has an A+ rating. Over the past three years, 154 complaints filed against Ooma with the Better Business Bureau were resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant. Ninety-three complaints remain unresolved.
It is important to note, however, that not all of these complaints refer to Ooma Office. Some of the criticisms concern the company's home-phone service. In addition, nearly all of the phone system providers we examined had at least some complaints filed against them. To read more about the nature of each complaint against Ooma, visit the Better Business Bureau website.
The biggest limitation of Ooma Office comes in the up-front hardware costs. Few of the other cloud-based systems require you to purchase the type of hardware that Ooma does. Depending on how many employees you have, you can expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $1,250 in initial costs. However, most of the other systems make you use special IP phones, which cost at least $100 each.
Another potential negative is that the system supports only up to 20 users. If you are hoping to grow your business beyond that, you might be better off finding a phone system that can grow with you along the way, such as 8x8, our pick for the best phone system for small businesses.
Another possible downside of Ooma is that it lacks all the bells and whistles that some of its larger competitors offer. If you want every feature that's out there — such as call screening, missed-call notifications and video conferencing — Ooma probably isn't for you.
Best Business Phone Systems
Ready to choose a business phone system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Business Phone System Buyer's Guide
- Roundup: The Best Business Phone Systems
- REVIEW: Best for Small Businesses
- REVIEW: Best Virtual Phone System
- REVIEW: Best for Call Centers
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: