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RingCentral Review

Best Business Phone Service

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

When choosing a phone service for your business, it is critical to find a well-rounded solution that is reliable and easy to use and has all of the features and tools your business needs. In addition, the service should be available in multiple service plans that give you the flexibility to pick and choose what you want your business phone system to include. This flexibility in service plans allows businesses to choose a phone system that best fits their needs and budget.

You should also look for a solution that not only serves your needs today, but will serve your needs in the future. It should be able to grow with you. If you want to add new lines, it should be easy to do so. If you have a need for a contact center, it should also offer those services.

When it comes to specific features and tools, it should offer everything your business needs today and those it may need moving forward. This includes automated attendants, various voicemail options, call forwarding, mobile apps, conference calling and online meetings.

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend RingCentral as our 2018 pick for the best business phone service. RingCentral Office is a robust cloud-hosted VoIP unified communication system that combines voice calling, messaging and online meetings. It requires no equipment to install, is easy to use, and offers all of the calling, collaboration and mobile features businesses of all sizes will value. These include automated attendants, voicemail-to-email, ring groups, conference calling that can support hundreds of participants at a time, instant messaging and online meetings that allow screen sharing. RingCentral also offers a mobile app that allows users to tap in to their business lines from anywhere. The system is available in four different service plans that range from $30 to $60 per user per month.

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 Office is a cloud-hosted VoIP phone system that is easy to implement and use. RingCentral provides new customers with an implementation specialist who helps determine exactly how many phones you will need and helps you to either choose new numbers or transfer over numbers you currently have.

With RingCentral, you can select local, toll-free and vanity numbers. If you are an established business, you can also port your number over from your previous phone system into RingCentral. If you go this route, you will receive a temporary number while the transfer process takes place. RingCentral estimates that the porting process usually takes 2-4 weeks to complete.

Since the system is cloud-based, you need no special equipment or wiring to get it up and running. The system runs on the same internet connection your company already uses. RingCentral recommends businesses use a high-speed DSL, cable or fiber optic connection for the phone system. There should be dedicated upload and download bandwidth of at least 90 Kbps for each voice line.

One piece of true hardware you will need is the phones. You can purchase IP phones directly from RingCentral or from an outside vendor. If you buy them directly from RingCentral, they are preconfigured and ready to use as soon as you receive them. All you need to do is plug them into your network to start making and receiving calls. If you buy phones from an outside vendor, you will need to work with the RingCentral tech team to properly configure them.

Part of what makes the phone system so easy to use is that administrators control the entire system via online portal. Within the portal, you add and change users, assign phones, and manage extensions and groups.

Administrators aren't the only ones who can access the system online. Employees also log in from their computers and smartphones to manage their own individual settings and use their softphone.

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.

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A critical factor for any business phone system is that it works every time you pick up the phone to make or answer a call. RingCentral takes a number of steps to ensure that happens.

RingCentral employs both a distributed, redundant network to route calls around broken links and redundant data centers to safeguard service during any outages. It has 17 data centers around the world. Should one need maintenance or shut down for another reason, the data instantly and seamlessly transfers to one of the other centers. All of the data centers are monitored around the clock, 365 days a year, by security guards and engineering specialists.

RingCentral employs a seven-layer security process that monitors every aspect of the system. The layers are the physical, infrastructure, host, data, application, business processes and enterprise level of each client's organization. The systemwide security includes transmission security to prevent the interception of communications, firewalls and session border controls, multiple authentication levels, intrusion detection systems, fraud analytics, vulnerability scans, and usage throttling.

All of this contributes to RingCentral's 99.999 percent uptime. This means service is down for only a couple of minutes each year. RingCentral's uptime is among the highest for all cloud-hosted VoIP business phone systems.

Part of what makes RingCentral Office such an appealing phone system is its wide array of calling, mobility and collaboration tools. The combination of all of these features makes it a true unified communications system. Overall, the service offers more than 50 features.

  • Call management: This phone system has all of the standard calling features today's businesses want from their phone services, including call forwarding, call recording, call screening, call logs, message alerts and answering rules. Other popular tools are auto-receptionists, multilevel IVRs and hold music.
     
  • Voicemail: RingCentral Office has several ways for you to check your voicemail. The system includes traditional voicemail, voicemail-to-email, and visual voicemail that allows you to preview your messages in text form when you can't listen to them.
     
  • Collaboration: The system offers a number of tools that make working with others easier, such as video and audio conferencing. The conference bridge allows employees to host their own conference calls with up to 1,000 participants at any time. The conference bridge is a reservationless service, which allows employees to hold calls without any advanced notice. Online meetings allow up to 500 participants and include options for screen sharing. The system also offers the ability to host webinars with up to 10,000 participants and 500 presenters. The Glip tool provides a single, unified team workspace where you can communicate, share files and assign tasks. The system also includes a presence tool that quickly shows employees which of their peers are busy and which are free.
     
  • Mobility: The RingCentral mobile app is available on iOS and Android devices. With the app, users can make and receive calls from their business lines, send and receive faxes and texts, set up and join conference calls, and check their voicemail. The app also allows users to change their system settings and receive notifications.
     
  • Softphone: The softphone allows employees to make and receive calls from their computers. Once they are logged in to the system, all they need to do is use the computer microphone and speakers or plug in a headset to start making calls.
     
  • Integrations: RingCentral Office integrates with a wide range of other popular programs, including Box, Desk.com, Achiever, Google, Microsoft, Okta, Oracle Sales Cloud, Salesforce, ServiceNow and Zendesk.
     
  • Added features: Additional features and tools include online faxing, single sign-on, hotdesking, a desktop app, missed-call notifications and text messaging.

RingCentral Office is available in four different service plans that vary in features and price.

  • Essentials: The Essentials plan is only available for businesses with fewer than 10 employees. The plan is $29.99 per user per month. It includes 100 toll-free minutes, unlimited calling, video meetings for up to four people at a time, visual voicemail and voicemail-to-email. This plan also features file sharing, instant messaging and chat rooms.
     
  • Standard: The Standard plan is $34.99 per user per month. It includes everything in the Essentials plan, as well as 1,000 toll-free minutes, a multilevel auto-attendant, call logs and online faxing.
     
  • Premium: The Premium plan is $44.99 per user. It includes everything in the Standard plan, plus 2,500 toll-free minutes, video meetings for up to 100 people, automatic call recording, multisite support, custom app development and deployment, single sign-on, and integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk and Desk.com.
     
  • Ultimate: The most expensive plan is the Ultimate package, which is $59.99 per user per month. This includes everything in the Premium plan, plus voicemail transcription to text, video meetings for up to 200 people and 10,000 toll-free minutes.

RingCentral offers a 33 percent discount for users who pay on an annual basis instead of monthly. Prices also drop for businesses with at least 100 users.

Call center: RingCentral offers three different contact center plans. All the plans include standard interactive voice response, call routing and advanced call distributors. The more advanced plans also include omnichannel capabilities, skills-based routing, preview, progressive and predictive dialers, and outbound dialing. You can also receive various analytics to see how your contact center is performing.

Virtual services: RingCentral Professional is available for businesses that prefer a virtual system over a traditional phone system. The virtual system works as an extensive call-forwarding plan that allows businesses to have a main number, with all calls then forwarded to employees' cell or home phones. This service is ideal for microbusinesses or businesses with a remote workforce.  

Meetings: RingCentral now offers a service just for meetings. It gives businesses that don't want the RingCentral phone service the option to use its meeting tools. This service allows businesses to host online meetings with up 100 participants. Among the features available are HD video, screen sharing and messaging. The meetings service can be used with computers and mobile devices.

The biggest downside of RingCentral is its inconsistent customer service. To test the support, we called the company numerous times, posing as a small business owner interested in phone systems. While most of our interactions were positive, our initial one left a lot to be desired and gave us a poor first impression. We've been pleased, however, to see that the service has improved since our first contact with the company. While the phone support has gotten better, the live chat support still needs improvement.

Another potential negative is the number of complaints filed against the company with the Better Business Bureau. As of July 2018, 218 complaints against the company had been closed over the past three years. Of those, 70 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. Despite the complaints, RingCentral is an accredited member of the BBB and has an A+ rating.

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.

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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.