RingCentral vs. Grasshopper

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In order to compare RingCentral and Grasshopper we must first define the products being assessed. Grasshopper is a virtual phone system targeted at the SMB and is an incoming call management system. RingCentral however has two main products Office and Professional with the latter being the closest match to Grasshopper as it is an incoming call management service.

grasshopper-vs-rinfcentral

 

RingCentral Professional

ringcentral_logoThe Professional service from RingCentral is a call management service targeted at the small business on the go. Mobility is a feature that is heavily stressed in its marketing and so it is unsurprising that it is geared towards providing an alternative or rather an improvement on the use of personal mobile phones for business. The service is based on the incoming call management part of RingCentral’s Office product, which is the fully featured, for incoming and outgoing calls, virtual IP/PBX.

 

Grasshopper – Virtual Phone System

grasshopper_logo_lightGrasshopper is a virtual phone system that manages incoming calls and differs from other systems in so much as it is an overlay on top of the standard telephone network (PSTN). It is not VoIP or an IP PBX but a managed call answering and forwarding service.

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How they work?

Both Grasshopper and RingCentral operate in the same manner, as they are both incoming call management systems. Therefore, when we describe their method of operation we will only specify a particular vendor by name when highlighting a method or feature that is not shared with the other at other times they will be referred to as the service provider.

Incoming call management involves a few basic steps which revolve around the provision of a real phone number being supplied or transferred, by or too the service provider. The customer or business then will use that number to promote their business and hand out to customers on all marketing and advertising collateral. The purpose of this is to provide a single point of contact for all telephone communications in a bid to move away from handing out personal mobile numbers. This is the cornerstone of incoming call management, a single point of control.

When a customer/caller phones the business’s new number the service provider will automatically answer the call – there will be no unanswered calls, lengthy delays, or busy tones – and greet the caller with a pre-configured custom greeting. This alone provides a professional and standard way to answer all incoming business calls.

However projecting to the customer a professional and efficient manner is only part of the benefit of incoming call management. For it is what happens next that really defines the service. Upon answering the call, the service provider will play the customized greeting and offer the caller a menu of extensions, for example Press 1 for Sales, 2 for Billing, 3 for Technical Support …. The caller will then make their selection using the numeric keys on their telephone. The service provider will then forward the call to the appropriate extension. The beauty of this is that it is not an extension as such but an external phone which the service provider then dials and duly forwards the call. As it can be any phone that can receive a standard type telephone call, such as a mobile phone or a landline the receiver can be anywhere, their location is irrelevant. This means that the business doesn’t actually need to have fixed business premises, which is ideal for startups trying to keep costs down. It is also ideal for employees who spend a lot of time out of the office or working on client premises.

The service provider in addition to forwarding calls also provides voice mail and can send transcripts to your email. The service provider also provides a web based administration portal for quick and easy configuration of extensions and call answering rules. These rules apply when several phones are linked to an extension, say for example; when menu says Press 1 for Sales, and there are several phones listed against that option. The user can either select the order in which they want the calls forwarded, and how long to wait for an answer before moving on to another on the list, or have them all ring at once.

 

How They Differ?

RingCentral is a virtual IP-PBX that uses the incoming call management features as the basis of its Professional products functionality. Grasshopper on the other hand is a PSTN overlay, which uses the public telephone system to forward and relay calls. However as these are both virtual hosted and cloud based systems this is all transparent to the customer. The only time it is evident is with Fax and that is when RingCentral can use its IP based technology to accept both incoming and outgoing Fax which contrasts with Grasshopper’s inbound only service. Apart from the outgoing Fax service, though there is little difference from a feature and function perspective.

 

Pricing and Plans

When comparing Grasshopper and RingCentral there is nothing between them when it comes down to features as the underlying technology and methods are so similar. Therefore, the main difference between the vendors is down to the product plans and pricing. Unfortunately, these are nowhere near as easily compared; indeed, they are built of different structures, making side-by-side comparison difficult.

Grasshopper has four plans, Pay as you Grow, RAMP, GROW and MAX they are priced at $12, $24, $49 and $199 per month, respectively. RingCentral Professional has three service plans Pro, ProPlus and ProPower at $12.99, $19.99 and $24.99 per month respectively. (These prices are correct at time of writing March 2017)

If we look at the most popular service from each vendor, which is, Grasshopper’s GROW and Ring Central’s ProPlus we can get a better idea of how the services are structured.

Grasshopper’s GROW at $49 per month and free activation gives 2,000 free minutes per month, additional minutes are billed at 6c per minute and provide for two toll free/local numbers with unlimited extensions. Grasshopper provides full features with every plan.

RingCentral’s ProPlus at $19 per month provides 1000 free minutes; additional minutes billed at 4.4c per minute, with one toll free/local number and support up to five extensions. ProPlus also has their full feature set enabled.

However, there are also some hidden costs for example RingCentral ProPlus has free, true 800 Number, Toll free number transfer, and local number transfer whereas Grasshopper’s GROW charges an additional $15 for a true 800 numbers and $30 for each of the number transfer services.

RingCentral’s Plans & Pricing

plans

Grasshopper’s Plans & Pricing

 

Customer Service

Grasshopper generally comes out top on this one as they have their Customer Services based in the USA. However, that is only of benefit to customers in that location, interestingly their 24/7 customer service is only available as a toll free telephone support which on an incoming call only system is a bit strange. RingCentral provides both web, telephone support, and has a Click-to-Call VoIP button on their website. Where some perceive RingCentral’s Customer Support too fail is in that it is out-sourced and located out-with the USA. Generally though both Grasshopper and RingCentral have good customer support reviews so there is no real differentiator there.

 

Which is Easiest to Use?

Both vendors have web administration for quick and easy configuration though Grasshopper’s is the more intuitive of the two. RingCentral’s ProPlus comes from a stripped down version of the Office product, which is a fully featured IP/PBX and as such is not as straightforward and intuitive as the very basic Grasshopper portal. However, configuring extensions and call answer rules are still very easy on both systems.

Conclusion

ringcentral-grasshopperBoth Grasshopper and RingCentral have excellent and very similar products that answer and forward calls to pre-configured extensions (other telephones) and as such are very comparable in both their service and features. When deciding to go for one system over the other, you need to consider your requirements not just for today but in the near future. Grasshopper is a standalone incoming call system with no provision for making outbound calls – it does not supply a dial tone. RingCentral ProPlus is also incoming calls only but it has a very clear upgrade path to RingCentral’s Office which is an enterprise class virtual IP/PBX. Grasshopper is a very attractive service for the startup and the entrepreneur without a fixed business location as is RingCentral, however RingCentral has that all-important upgrade path which will be required as the business becomes established. The biggest weakness of the incoming call management service is that employees use their mobiles or home telephones to make or return business calls. That is only manageable in very small companies sooner or later business desk phones will be required. And here lies the conundrum Grasshopper with no upgrade path, but no danger of lock-in, or RingCentral with a clearly defined upgrade path but with considerable risk of lock-in.

 

Company Website Full Review Coupons
grasshopper_logo_light visit_site_big Limited offer: $75 off coupon.Click here to redeem!
ringcentral_logo visit_site Click to get RingCentral’s Professional FREE for 30 days

 

Company Website Coupons
grasshopper_logo_light visit_site_big
Limited offer: $75 off coupon.Click here to redeem!
ringcentral_logo visit_site
Click to get RingCentral’s Professional FREE for 30 days

Alasdair Gilchrist

Alasdair is a technical writer with interest in business practice, operational strategy, start up philosophy and affordable technology. He lives in Nonthaburi, Thailand with his wife and daughter, and writes terrible novels as a hobby.

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