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Mitel Review: Best Business Phone System for Call Centers

Mitel Review: Best Business Phone System for Call Centers

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend Mitel as our 2018 pick for the best business phone system for call centers. 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.

Mitel's phone system offers flexibility in hosting options, service plans, features and tools. Mitel's call center services cost $54 to $105 per user, per month for cloud users or $800 to $1,000 per user for on-premises users. Here is a detailed breakdown of why it's our best pick.

Part of what makes Mitel such an attractive call center phone system is that it offers systems for all businesses, regardless of the hosting option they are looking for. The system is available as an on-premises or cloud-hosted solution.

Mitel was one of only a few phone systems providers that offer each option. While the two hosting choices offer similar features and tools, their installation and pricing structures vary greatly. In addition, Mitel offers a hybrid version that allows you to have your phone system hosted in the cloud, while your contact center services are hosted within your business.

The cloud-based system is very simple to set up. You'll need IP phones, the necessary bandwidth to support your call volume and voice prioritizing software. Other than that, no special equipment or wiring is required. Mitel also handles all of the maintenance and upgrades with its cloud-hosted system.

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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The cloud solution is very reliable. Mitel has five different data centers around the world to ensure service is always up and running. Overall, the system's uptime is between 99.97 and 100 percent. This means that service is down for only a handful of minutes each year.

Mitel customers also have access to the company's "trust" website, which provides phone system statistics and scheduled maintenance information. In addition, the Mitel service level agreement states that, should the uptime drop below 99.99 percent during any given month, customers are eligible to receive a credit on their future bills. Not all of the providers we considered offer this type of guarantee.

Businesses can also choose an on-premises system from Mitel. However, instead of working directly with Mitel for the purchase and installation, you will partner with a Mitel reseller in your area. These local resellers determine the type of equipment you need and then install it.

These on-premises systems are housed and maintained within your business and require professional installation. Mitel's MiVoice Office 250, designed for small and midsize businesses, uses a software and hardware platform that combines data networking and TDM switching architectures. It supports IP telephones and IP networking for up to 99 sites, and is customizable with add-on modules and processors. The on-premises system can be used in shelf-top, rack-mount and wall-mount configurations.

Besides the hardware, the on-premises system requires software to prioritize voice traffic on your business's network, as well as PRI circuits or SIP trunks in order to connect a dial tone to the system. Note that with the on-premises option, you and your IT staff are responsible for all of the system's maintenance and updating.

Whether you are using the on-premises or cloud-hosted solution, the entire system is controlled via web-based portal. Within the portal, administrators can assign extensions, set preferences and monitor activity.

In addition to the multiple hosting options, Mitel offers businesses flexibility in the services they can access. Mitel has a number of different service plans for its regular and call center phone systems that vary based on features and price.

What's nice about this is that companies can mix and match the plans they use. For example, some employees might only need a basic phone system, while others need more advanced features. Organizations can choose the individual plan that makes the most sense for each employee. This saves you money on features and tools that not every person in the organization needs.

Also, if businesses want some of the features in an upgraded plan, they can add them to their current plan on an a la carte basis. Many of the other phone system providers we considered don't offer this high level of flexibility.

Rather than purchasing separate phone systems for your business and your call center needs, you get everything in one complete package with Mitel. The company's call center plan is tacked onto its general office phone service. This allows you to purchase the call center tools only for the employees who work in that part of your business.

Mitel offers a host of features that businesses in need of a call center will find valuable. This includes universal queuing and enterprise resource matching, plus optimized call routing by service level, skills, priority, customer identity, schedules and caller location.

The call center service also offers valuable integration options.  Mitel's contact center services integrate with a number of popular customer relationship management (CRM) programs, including Salesforce, NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, Act!, Zendesk and Desk.com. The system can be configured to integrate with virtually any CRM.

Other calling features include email, fax, voicemail, SMS and web chat integration, customer callbacks, automatic speech recognition, softphones that allow agents to make and receive calls from their computers instead of desk phones, pre-recorded announcements, silent monitoring, and call recording.

The system's dashboard also gives organizations a real-time view of how their call center is performing. You can compare current information with historical data to understand trends and schedule agent availability accordingly. The dashboard also allows supervisors to keep a close eye on agents in training by monitoring specific extensions visually and using silent monitor, barge-in and coach features.

Mitel's call center services also include an outbound dialer so call center agents can make outgoing calls. Not all of the phone system services we looked into offer outbound dialing.

In addition to the robust call center offerings, Mitel has an equally impressive business phone system for the rest of your office. This is critical, because the phone system is the base for the call center services. Without a suitable phone system, the call center offerings won't be of value, no matter how comprehensive they are.

The phone system offers more than 100 calling, mobility, messaging, and collaboration tools and features. Specifically, the system offers an auto-attendant, music on hold, call screening, call blocking, and the ability to dial by name or extension.

Businesses will find the variety of mobility features especially appealing. Mitel offers a mobile app for both Android and iOS devices that allows employees to make and receive business calls, conduct conference calls, and check voicemail.

The phone also includes a host of collaboration tools, including audio conferencing, instant messaging, presence, video chat and desktop sharing.

Other mobile tools include the ability to use a softphone to make and receive calls via any internet-connected computer, and a "find me, follow me" feature that allows calls to be forwarded based on call-routing rules that users set themselves.

Some of the other features the Mitel phone system offers are voicemail-to-email, Microsoft Outlook integration, online faxing, call blocking and hunt groups.

Overall, we were very happy with the level of support we received from Mitel. To test the type of support you can expect, we called Mitel multiple times posing as a new business owner interested in a phone system and call center services.

All of our calls were answered by pleasant representatives who gathered some basic information about our business. They then transferred us to one of their associates who had more expertise on the services we were interested in.

The associates were all extremely helpful and knowledgeable about the system. They answered all of our questions thoroughly and were able to provide us details on the phone system, its features, the call center services and pricing.

After our calls, all of the associates we spoke with followed up with emails that included more information on the system and its costs. When we wrote back with follow-up questions, we received answers within minutes. Not all of the phone system providers we spoke with provided this high level of service.

While we could not find a Better Business Bureau rating for Mitel as a whole, we did find ratings for many of its local offices, which are located throughout the U.S. and Canada. The ratings ranged from A+ to F.

Mitel offers customer support by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Mitel's pricing structure depends on which system you use. The on-premises system is mostly one-time costs, while the cloud solution has mostly monthly fees.

For the cloud service, we were quoted prices of $30 to $55 per user, per month depending on the features. Call center licenses were an additional $24 to $50 per month. This cost includes unlimited local and long-distance calling.

There are, however, added one-time costs for setup and training. We were quoted costs of about $50 per user for training, plus a $1,500 fee to set up the call center services.

While the cloud-hosted system is built mostly around monthly charges, the on-premises system has mostly one-time, upfront expenses.

It is important to remember that, because Mitel's on-premises system is sold through resellers across the country, the pricing can be different for each user. In order for us to compare pricing between the cloud and on-premises systems, the Mitel representative we spoke to gave us approximate pricing for the on-premises system. We were quoted prices of $800 to $950 per user depending on the features your business wants. Those costs could increase depending on how extensive a call center you want.

When determining your full costs, it is important to consider that you will also have to pay monthly fees for your dial tone service and calling minutes. We were not given specific pricing for these additional services.

The other costs you have to consider for both options are for purchasing or renting phones. With the on-premises system, you buy the phones outright for several hundred dollars each. With the cloud system, you can rent phones for $5 each per month.

One of the biggest limitations with Mitel is the unknown of how the service will continue to operate after its recent acquisition of ShoreTel. The company is clearly still in a transition period, as many of the documents we received still had the ShoreTel name and logo on them. What's comforting to know is that both Mitel and ShoreTel were solid offerings on their own before the acquisition. It stands to reason that combining two top companies into one will only make a stronger offering. We will continue to monitor the situation as it plays out. 

Another negative is that we had trouble finding Mitel's accreditation status and reports with the Better Business Bureau. While we did find reports for some of its local offices, we did not find one for the company's main headquarters. Also, the locations we did find on the Better Business Bureau website showed that none of the locations were accredited.

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.