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Ooma Office Review: Best Business Phone System for Small Offices

Ooma Office Review: Best Business Phone System for Small Offices

After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend Ooma Office as our pick for the 2018 best business phone system for small offices. 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.

Ooma Office is specifically designed for very small businesses. It is simple to install and offers a mobile app that allows you to make and receive calls from your smartphone. Ooma Office costs $19.95 per user, per month.

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. If you are using IP phones, the base unit is all you need. Each IP phone gets plugged in to your local area network and is then ready to use.

If you are using analog phones, you will need the Linx devices, which connect those phones to the system. You can connect up to four Linx devices to the base unit. 

If your business is using analog phones and 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 either plug an IP phone into your network or plug an analog phone into the base unit. When this base unit turns blue, you can immediately start making and receiving calls. [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.

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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 other providers offer, Ooma Office does have many of the features small offices would find most valuable, including a virtual receptionist that answers your incoming calls and makes it easy for callers to reach the employees they need.

It uses text-to-speech technology, so you 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. 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.

Request a quote from Ooma.

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 $100. However, Ooma runs 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, which is $19.95 per user. With this, each employee gets their own dedicated phone number, conference calling and online faxing.

We like this pricing structure because all of the features are included in the price. Many of the other services we analyzed have a variety of plans that each include a different number of features for a different price. 

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 don't charge the initial hardware fees, they do 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 charge an activation fee and have 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. A conference phone is also available for $400.

We were impressed with how straightforward the company's pricing is. 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 also a 30-day risk-free trial for Ooma Office.

We were pleased with the customer service we received from Ooma. To gauge the type of support customers can expect, we called the company numerous times, posing as a new small business owner interested in phone systems.

During our calls, the Ooma representatives were helpful and friendly. They answered all of our questions clearly and thoroughly. Some of the other providers we spoke with didn't provide the same level of detailed answers that Ooma did. Knowing that Ooma is designed for very small businesses, they also made sure that our business was a good fit for their service.

Each representative we spoke with followed up several times via email, inquiring if we had additional questions, providing us with videos that 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 the reps' credit, 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 evaluated, 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 offer 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. As of August 2017, 93 complaints filed against Ooma with the Better Business Bureau had been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, with 130 remaining 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 residential services. 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 upfront 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 some of the bells and whistles that many 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 for Small Businesses
Read Review
  • On-Premise or Cloud
  • Total # of Calling Features
  • Customer Service
    Phone and email
  • Mobile App
    iPhone and Android
Best for Small Offices
Ooma Office
Read Review
  • On-Premise or Cloud
  • Total # of Calling Features
  • Customer Service
    Phone and email
  • Mobile App
    iPhone and Android
Best Virtual Phone System
Read Review
  • On-Premise or Cloud
  • Total # of Calling Features
    20+ (Virtual System Only)
  • Customer Service
    Phone, email, live chat
  • Mobile App
    iPhone and Android
Best for Call Centers
Read Review
  • On-Premise of Cloud
  • Total # of Calling Features
  • 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.

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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.