Grasshopper Vs Virtual PBX – in-Depth Comparison

Company Information

Grasshopper

Grasshopper is a virtual telephone system operator that is based in Needham MA in the USA. Grasshopper’s target market is the solo entrepreneur or the small business market, typically those with between 1-25 telephone users. As such Grasshopper is primarily a virtual telephone service with the typical voice features that you would expect from a business telephone system.

When Grasshopper first started out it was distinctive because it used a PSTN overlay model this required that you had to have an existing phone service (landline or mobile) in which to operate and to forward calls over. 

In recent years Grasshopper has shifted away from the PSTN overlay model towards being a cloud PBX utilizing VoIP over the internet. What this means is you can now make, receive and forward calls using VoIP on Wi-Fi or over a Mobile data connection using a smartphone or a PC with a softphone app. This has significantly improved the features and flexibility of the Grasshopper system. For example, users can now make outbound calls using VoIP over the internet from a mobile app. But, at the same time, the move has reduced what was its significant advantage, which was its previous guaranteed voice quality and reliability as these factors were due to the underlying PSTN network.

VirtualPBX.com

 VirtualPBX is one of the pioneers in VoIP and virtual telephone services. It began over two decades ago from a garage workshop to become a nation-wide company with offices throughout the USA. From those humble beginnings VirtualPBX has grown to be a major player in VoIP and more recently in cloud based PBX solutions. It has achieved this through a customer centric approach to feature design, customer support and product development.

VirtualPBX strives to produce virtual phone products that are both cost effective and easy to use. As a result they build the need for flexibility and user control into the design process. This means that VirtualPBX products work the way the customer wants them to as the user, administrators and managers have their own levels and  ability to control and tweak feature settings.

Moreover, VirtualPBX takes pride in its low cost, high-performance virtual PBX solutions via its hassle-free setup, web-based administration and no-system maintenance.

Comparing Grasshopper vs. VirtualPBX

When it comes to comparing vendors’ products in the virtual telephone systems marketplace it is essential to make sure that we are comparing comparable systems. What this means is that we must select and compare service and price plans aimed at the same market sector, such as for small office-home office (SoHo) or small medium businesses (SMB), or small to medium enterprises (SME).

As a result we have chosen to compare Grasshopper’s Solo, Partner and SMB service plans against Phone.com’s basic small business plans. What we do need to bear in mind is that this is a like for like comparison as both Grasshopper and VirtualPBX are targeting the entrepreneur and small business market sector.

Pricing Models

Grasshopper

Grasshopper uses a pricing model based upon the number of virtual business numbers used and the number of extensions. With Grasshopper the entry level service is called Solo ($24 per month) and as you would expect this is designed to support a single user with one number and 3 extensions on a per month basis. Moving up the scale there is the popular Partner service plan ($49) that is designed to support up to 5 users with 3 numbers and 3 extensions. At the top end there is the Small Business ($89) service plan which can scale to around 25 users with 5 numbers and unlimited extensions. Across all the plans there are no activation fees, contract needed or cancellation fees involved but local taxes will apply.

VirtualPBX

VirtualPBX has three basic small business plans as well as an enterprise plan, which we will only touch briefly upon here as a possible upgrade path. Instead we will concentrate on a like-fo- like comparison with Grasshopper’s Solo, Partner and Small Business service plans.

The service plans that VirtualPBX offers targets the same entrepreneur and small business market-segment as Grasshopper but importantly the VirtualPBX plans come in two distinct flavors – 1) an Unlimited User plans and 2), an unlimited Minutes set of plans. Regardless of whether the plans are unlimited user, which is actually a pay for minutes plan or the Unlimited Minutes plans the feature sets are not the same as the plans are aimed at different types of customer .

Unlimited User Plans (Pay as you Go)

VirtualPBX has two billing option one is the Annual Subscription in Advance, the other is a monthly payments as you go. In either case there are no contracts or penalties for cancellation.

300 Plan – $9.99 /per month (annual subscription); $11.99 (monthly billing)

  • 300 Plan Minutes, 2 Local or Toll-Free Numbers, Free Web Phone & Call Forwarding, Enable VoIP Phones for $4.99/each  and Zapier Integration+ All Basic Features

500 Plan – $12.99 /per month (annual subscription); $17.99 (monthly billing)

  • 500 Plan Minutes, 2 Toll-Free or Local Numbers, Free Web Phone & Call Forwarding, Enable VoIP Phones for $4.99/each, ACD Queues (Standard)+ All Features Included on 300 Plan

1000 Plan – $24.99 /per month (annual subscription); $34.99 (monthly billing)

  • 1000 Plan Minutes, 5 Toll-Free or Local Numbers, Free Web Phone & Call Forwarding, Enable VoIP Phones for $4.99/each, Call Recording & Webhooks+ All Features Included on 500 Plan

Unlimited Minutes Service Plans

Essentials – $16.99 /user per month (annual subscription) or $21.99 (monthly billing)

  • Unlimited Local Minutes
  • 100 Toll-Free Minutes
  • Unlimited VoIP Minutes Between System Users
  • 5 Toll-Free or Local Numbers
  • 1 VoIP Device for Every User
  • ACD Queues (Standard)
  • Auto Attendant,
  •  Ring Groups,
  • Voicemail

Advanced – $20.99 /user per month (annual subscription) or $26.99 (monthly billing)

  • Unlimited Local Minutes
  • 1,000 Toll-Free Minutes
  • Unlimited VoIP Minutes Between System Users
  • 10 Toll-Free or Local Numbers
  • Advanced Reporting
  • ACD Queues Pro and
  • Call Recording
  • Plus All Features Included in the Essentials Plan

Enterprise – $24.99 /user per month (annual subscription) or $34.99 (monthly billing)

  • Unlimited Local Minutes
  • 2,500 Toll-Free Minutes
  • Unlimited VoIP Minutes Between System Users
  • 15 Toll-Free or Local Numbers
  • CRM Integration
  • API Access
  • Plus All Features Included in the Advanced Plan

Grasshopper Features

Grasshopper despite its move to being a cloud PBX is still fundamentally only an incoming call handing service. What that means is that Grasshopper is an inbound call answering service that does not provide users with a dial-tone so no outbound calls are possible. Grasshopper works by using an auto-attendant to answer incoming calls to the virtual business number. The incoming calls to virtual business numbers are duly answered 24/7 with a professional customized greeting. The users can make their own greeting using Grasshopper studio or have a professional voice actor record the greeting for them. After the greeting has been played to the caller, the auto-attendant will present them with a menu of user configurable options – such as press 1 for Sales, 2 for Support, 3 for Billing. When customizing the menu the user can construct the menu so that it is made up of a hierarchy of departments or extensions that reflect the organizations structure. Moreover each extension can be redirected to a different phone or user. A handy thing is any number of real phones can be linked to the virtual extension number, which can ring in sequence (call hunt) or ring simultaneously (call blast). Therefore, the user could set up the sequence to have their mobile as the first number and their house phone as the second, this way they can ensure that they would not miss an important call.

There are also voicemail and voicemail-to-email features. Voicemail is a standard feature which will kick in after a configurable number of unanswered rings. On the other hand, Voicemail-to-email is a transcription service which sends a copy to the user’s email inbox so that it can be read rather than listened too.

Business calling and SMS, which use the virtual business number as the caller ID are again standard features across the plans. Both services allow the mobile or desktop app to substitute the virtual business number for the devices real mobile number as the caller ID which is good as it prevents the personal phone number of the mobile phone being visible to the person receiving the call or text.

Quality and reliability are built into Grasshopper by default as it operates on top of the PSTN network which guarantees call quality and high-availability. Nonetheless, Grasshopper can also use your mobile minutes or shift to VoIP on Wi-Fi when a strong signal is available. This can be easily setup on the mobile or desktop apps which comes with the service.

Other notable Grasshopper features are:

  • Fax Support (incoming)
  • Conference Calling (3-way or more if subscribing to Join.Me)
  • International Calls – charged at International call rates
  • Mobile app for iOS and Android
  • Toll-Free, Local or Vanity number
  • Softphone for Windows or Mac
  • Caller ID/Screening
  • Call transfer
  • Call blocking
  • Call Forwarding
  • Call Blasting

Additional/Supplementary Apps

Grasshopper is focused on being a basic, reliable and high quality telephone service hence its lack of multi-channel, collaboration, productivity and call center tools. However, Grasshopper does have complementary tools that deliver some of these functions. The two services in question that bring some advanced features to the basic Grasshopper voice service are; 1) Grasshopper Connect, which brings contact sharing and email integration and 2) Join.me, which provides much needed support for video and audio conferencing as well as desktop/screen sharing.

Grasshopper Connect

Grasshopper Connect can be used as a standalone product or as a supplement to Grasshopper Solo. However it is priced at $29.99, which brings it to parity with Ring Central’s Essentials service plan at $29.99 billed annually for a single user. This dilutes much of Grasshopper’s price advantage. Nonetheless, in return you will get a contact-sharing feature on the mobile app as well as email integration for Google Gmail accounts. These are handy but basic functions that most of Grasshopper’s competitors deliver as part of the basic feature set.

Join.me

Grasshopper is pushing a partnership with Join.me as a supplement to its own basic virtual voice service. What Join.me brings to the table are collaboration and productivity tools such as video conferencing, video team meetings and desktop or screen sharing. These are excellent additional features to Grasshopper but they come not via mutual integration but as an extra subscription. The point being that to get features, such as video conferencing, above Grasshoppers basic feature-set is going to cost extra and this has to be taken into consideration when planning for the service.

VirtualPBX Features

VirtualPBX takes a different approach to features and service plans as it tries to be flexible and groups features into functional categories such as voice, collaboration & productivity, and Contact Centre. This is to allow you to customize your feature set to match your requirements. For example the following Dash service plans have different combinations of features:

Dash Essentials

Auto Attendant, Ring Groups, Zapier Integration, Audio Conferencing, Paperless Fax, ACD Queues, and Webhooks

Dash Advanced

Auto Attendant, Ring Groups, Zapier Integration, Audio Conferencing, Paperless Fax, ACD Queues, ACD Queues Pro, Call Recording, API Access, Webhooks, External Storage, and advanced reporting

Dash Enterprise

Auto Attendant, Ring Groups, Zapier Integration, Audio Conferencing, Paperless Fax, ACD Queues, ACD Queues Pro, Call Recording, API Access, Webhooks, External Storage, CRM Integration, Priority Support Included, Advanced Reporting

As can be seen from the feature list for each plan VirtualPBX has some very advanced features voice features such as ring groups, ACD queuing and audio conferencing as standard features even with the entry level Essentials plan.

In addition there are many additional features that allow you to customize your plans for collaboration and productivity gains through such features as Data Storage with AWS, Salesforce CRM and Zapier Integration or manage large teams or small contact centers with ACD Queues with Whisper and Barge, Call Recording, Real-Time  Agent Monitor, Call Reports, and advanced reporting.

Mobile & Desktop Apps

Grasshopper

Grasshopper is dependent upon having good mobile phone support as it is one of its biggest selling points. For example Grasshopper is attractive to small businesses that have users that are on the move and typically working from their mobile devices. Consequently, Grasshopper has developed a mobile app for both Android and iOS for smartphones. For desktops and Laptops there is also a softphone application that can be downloaded and configured as an extension. The pre-requisite for a softphone being that the computer, laptop or tablets has a headset and microphone.

The mobile app provides the opportunity to select whether to use VoIP or the carrier network, for example 4G to make calls. The user can select the default through the mobile apps setup. This means remembering to switch over to the carrier network when you leave the Wi-Fi network in the house or office.

VirtualPBX

The VirtualPBX softphone app differs slightly from many of its competitors’ mobile apps in so much as it is a generic softphone which turns any Computer, Device, or Cell Phone into a fully-featured VoIP Extension.  This allows you to harness the power of the VirtualPBX system from your own personal devices. The VirtualPBX Softphone App works with any iOS or ANdroid smartphone and is free to download from the Apple App Store or Google Play market.

The way that it works is that the VirtualPBX Softphone App can route calls intended for your deskphone directly to your smartphone. Anyone calling you will simply dial your direct line or company phone number and extension and be transparently forwarded to your smartphone. Also, it works well for outbound calling as it can use your business number as the Caller ID. Furthermore, with addition functions such as mobile call interruptions, mobile call management, Siri integration, call transfer and the savings made on mobile call roaming makes the VirtualPBX Softphone App a handy tool for those out and about a lot of the time.

The VirtualPBX Softphone app also works on desktops, laptops and tablets running Windows or Mac OS. The desktop softphone is just another virtual extension to handle all inbound and outbound voice traffic. This means it has all the same functionality such as Ring Groups, queues, Direct Inward Dialing (DID) numbers and even full Salesforce integration. This means you can manage your contacts sales leads and funnels even when you are away from the office.

Types of Numbers Available

An important consideration when choosing a virtual telephone service is whether the vendor can supply the type of business number that you need. There are several types of virtual telephone numbers available;

  • Local Number that matches your location or desired location or virtual business presence.
  • Toll-Free Numbers
  • Vanity Numbers
  • International Numbers
  • Existing Business Number

Almost all virtual telephone service vendors will support these types of numbers the difference is whether they charge for them or not.

Grasshopper

The Grasshopper service supports Local, Vanity and Toll Free. You can also port an existing number over to your Grasshopper account. All of the grasshopper features are attached to the virtual business number you choose such as business SMS, Confirmation Texts and outgoing caller ID use the business number even on a smartphone. The price of the virtual numbers is included within the plan, so for example you can have 1 number in Solo, 3 in Partner and 5 in Small Business. Additional numbers are charged at $5 per number per month. Also there are set monthly charges for features that use these numbers such as:

  • $5 per month for each additional Grasshopper number above the amount included in your pricing plan
  • $5 per month for each Canadian number that you transfer to Grasshopper
  • $10 per month if Call Blasting is activated
  • $10 per month if Read Your Voicemail is activated
  • $10 per month, per phone number with Grasshopper Business SMS (Texting) activated

VirtualPBX

VirtualPBX supports Local, International, Toll-Free, Vanity numbers as well as allowing you to port over an existing business number. Indeed VirtualPBX offers as part of their service plans several virtual business numbers per plan, such as:

Essentials -5 Toll Free or local numbers

Advanced10 Toll Free or local numbers

Enterprise – 15 Toll Free or local numbers

International numbers also available in over 40 countries that work like local numbers and allow you to gain an international presence without the costs associated with new, international offices.

There is also the availability of multiple main business numbers, which allows you to operate several autonomous businesses from the same system profile and service.

Support

An important factor when comparing vendor virtual telephone solutions is Customer Service. Each vendor approaches this area differently with some more focused on online material such as FAQ, Podcasts, and Blogs as well as website training videos. Whereas others aim for the personal contact via telephone, email or web forms. Whichever channel you prefer should be available to you from the vendor.

Another important factor is where the Support service is based. Generally a few years ago vendors took advantage of offshoring contact centers to Asia and other places to take advantage of lower costs. Unfortunately this often backfired resulting in poor customer experience and so recently there has been a shift back to on shoring Contact Centers in the USA.

Grasshopper

Grasshoppers support is 24/7 and based in the USA.

Grasshopper supports the following channels:

  • Telephone – 24/7
  • Live Support – Chat
  • Ticket System – Online Forms
  • Email
  • FAQ and online documentation

VirtualPBX

VirtualPBX support is 24/7 and based in the USA.

VirtualPBX supports the following channels:

  • Telephone – 24/7
  • Live Support – Chat
  • Ticket System – Online Forms
  • Live Training
  • Email
  • FAQ and online documentation

VirtualPBX prides itself on its customer support and boast of support staff being available 24 hours/day, 365 days/year to handle support issues.

Regional Availability

Grasshopper

Grasshopper used to be available in the USA/Canada as well as in the UK. However, now Grasshopper is only available in the USA and Canada. The lack of international local numbers is also a major constraint for businesses that work out with the USA and Canada.

VirtualPBX

As VirtualPBX is a cloud based virtual PBX it can support diverse geographical locations thereby providing enhanced mobility by allowing companies to choose local phone numbers in over 40 countries. With Phone.com your virtual business number can be chosen or customized to specific geographical or regional preferences. VirtualPBX also offers international virtual business numbers that provide your business with a virtual in-country presence.

Cancelling the Service

A very important factor to consider is how you end the contract if things just don’t work out. After all no matter how affordable and well delivered a telephone service may be it just might not fit with your own business model or direction. Therefore you should be aware of any potential cancellation fees or contractual obligations before you subscribe to the vendor’s service.

Grasshopper

This is the ideal model for small businesses as there simply is no contract involved as you pay on an ongoing month to month basis in advance. Therefore if you don’t like the service you simply stop paying for it. This is the simplest and easiest way to terminate the service. Alternatively you could call up their support and ask them to terminate the service but you will not be reimbursed for part of a month.

VirtualPBX

Cancelling the VirtualPBX service is very easy as you have a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the service or any billable features. Any Approved Persons may request cancellation of the Service Agreement at any time by writing to VirtualPBX or by email to [email protected].

However be aware that if you are paying annually in advance that billing refunds will only apply to full months unused. No partial month unused is refunded. Also there is a minimum of 4 months charged within the first 12 months of service.

Summary

When comparing VirtualPBX with Grasshopper we have to keep in mind that Grasshopper targets entrepreneurs, young startups and small businesses. Whereas VirtualPBX scales from that same demographic of solo and small business customers up to SMB (small medium business) and even SME (small medium enterprise), Consequently, when we consider VirtualPBX we should do through the lens of its essentials and advanced service plans as they are comparable in price. This means that we can ideally compare prices and features on a more equal basis.

Grasshopper is a basic no-frills virtual telephone system available only in the USA and Canada. The virtual telephone service targets the entrepreneur, young startup or small business that functions best on mobile devices. Grasshopper delivers all the basic voice functions a small business requires but lacks many of the features such as multi-channel support as well as the collaboration and productivity tools that have become increasingly necessary in modern businesses. Nonetheless Grasshopper is an affordable, simple to use and reliable service especially when using mobile phones.

VirtualPBX on the other hand is also a cloud based virtual phone system that is affordable but it offers services out with the USA and Canada and has far greater international scope. Despite being targeted at the same entrepreneur and small business market – less than 25 employees – as Grasshopper, VirtualPBX has a more extensive set of features covering voice, call handling, application integration, collaboration and productivity as well as some basic call center features.

In short if you are a small business with less than 25 telephone users that work outside of the office from their own mobile devices and you only need voice and text communication at an affordable price then Grasshopper may well be for you. On the other hand if you are a growing SMB with international ambitions or are based outside the USA and Canada and are willing to pay for the added-value features for collaboration, integration and productivity, then VirtualPBX is more suitable for your needs.

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