Vonage has restructured their small business telephone service to provide not just a basic telephony service, which their residential packages are famous for but also have added collaboration and conferencing to provide a true business-grade service. Previously Vonage’s basic service for small business provided their small business clients with the basic VoIP services for virtual telephony, such as auto-attendant, call redirect and other incoming services. Now, however, Vonage has stepped further into the business market by providing business class services and functions previously well out of the reach of small businesses.
Which to Choose: Vonage Business Cloud or Vonage Enterprise?
Vonage’s new SMB product, Vonage Business Cloud, is designed specifically to meet the modern communication requirements for small businesses, whereas, Vonage Enterprise is for midsize and large businesses. Both options are virtual telephone systems that are feature rich with all the modern communication tools an SMB business requires such as for messaging, collaboration and mobile communications. Again, regardless of which product you choose both Vonage products have business-grade performance, customer support and reliability. We will go into how these products differ later but for now we will concentrate on Vonage Business Cloud.
Vonage Business Cloud – Review
Vonage has won several awards for being the best business virtual telephone phone system for growing and small businesses because it offers scalable cloud-hosted VoIP business-class features. This means that small businesses can get a cloud-based phone system that is feature-rich, reliable and scalable. Vonage small business solutions allow you to customize your plan, add extensions at any time so you can grow your telephone system with your business. In addition you can easily manage your account using the online portal from any internet enabled device.
Benefits of Vonage Business Cloud for the SMB
To consider just what benefits that Vonage delivers to the small business we need to realize just how far they have come – from a residential service to a small medium or enterprise service within just a few years. Today, Vonage are no longer the entry level small business offering that is cheap and cheerful now Vonage offers a fully featured and functionally rich service that can compete with any of their competitors.
For example starting with a small business Vonage Business Cloud includes the Amazon Chime, which provides voice and video conferencing as a supplement to the standard phone service and offers many other collaboration tools. In addition with over 40+ business-critical features plus conferencing and collaboration tools, your business can operate just like any top enterprise and your customers will not notice any difference.
Furthermore, you now with Vonage Business Cloud have true mobility so you and your employees can work in more places than just the office and work long after traditional business hours are done. This is because all of Vonage Business Cloud features can be accessed 24/7 from anywhere there is internet connectivity on employee’s smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops and even on their home land-line phone.
As mobility is an essential feature for small and medium businesses Vonage Business Cloud ensures that employees that are always out and about have a phone system that always accepts and handles calls regardless of whether the call is out of hours or on a weekend.
This is because Vonage Business Cloud uses a virtual receptionist to ensure you never miss any important business calls when you are out and about or just unavailable to take the call. You can also configure the auto-attendant to answer incoming calls using different criteria for weekdays, weekends, and holidays as well as transfer calls to a variety of alternative numbers and devices.
Vonage Business Cloud has a neat feature called find-me/follow-me which will transfer calls to a list of preconfigured devices either sequentially or simultaneously. This feature also notifies the user of incoming calls on every device so you can always be found. It is up to you whether to have calls ring in sequence by priority or simultaneously – call blasting – in order that you never miss that important call.
Integration with existing Business Apps
One major benefit of using the Vonage Business Cloud over its myriad of SMB telephony competitors is the business application integration feature. The ability to easily connect and work along-side your favourite business applications is now included in your Vonage Business Cloud plan. This gives you so many ways to seamlessly work with Outlook, Salesforce, G Suite, Microsoft Dynamics, Clio and many others to provide you with an integrated solution for voice, messaging, conferencing, and collaboration.
Rich in Features and Tools
For Vonage Business Cloud, all plans include the 40 standard features, such as unlimited calling and text messaging, as well as a mobile and desktop app.
Pricing and Plans Including a Free Trial
Vonage Business Cloud is the starter plan for business telephony and communications and it boasts over 40 features and advanced collaboration and messaging tools. Furthermore, being cloud-based it runs over your existing high-speed internet connection to deliver high-quality voice, video and data. The Vonage Business Cloud plans all come with simple activation and setup with 24/7 customer support, however the advanced plan also comes with free onboarding and a concierge service included.
Both Vonage Business Cloud and Vonage Enterprise are available in three service plans that cover a wide spectrum of small medium businesses (SMB) and small medium enterprises (SME). However, as with most virtual telephone services there are significant economy in scale. What this means is that the lower price plans tend to be significantly higher price per user as the prices for each user drops as you add more users to the service plan.
One think of note is that there are no contracts with Vonage Business Cloud so you can cancel with no penalty at any time as you pay on a month to month basis. However, entering into a contract for Vonage Enterprise is mandatory. All plans include a 14-day free trial.
Vonage Business Cloud Vs. Vonage Enterprise
For those businesses that are not clearly defined as either an SMB or and SME and may be somewhere in-between it might be helpful to note some key differences between Vonage’s two service classes. While both are cloud-hosted systems, Vonage Business Cloud and Vonage Enterprise operate differently.
On one hand the Vonage Business Cloud is designed specifically to meet the needs for small businesses and so it runs entirely using VoIP over a high-speed internet connection. The quality and reliability of the service is down primarily as to how good and reliable the internet service is. However, as there is no equipment to install, and as you will manage the system from an online portal it is very easy for non-technical users to get up and running.
On the other hand, Vonage Enterprise is better suited for midsize and large organizations typically those known as SME. The Vonage Enterprise system is built upon Vonage’s dedicated private network. Consequently, this delivers a higher quality of service, as Vonage support staff will monitor the managed circuit 24/7. Having a service built upon a private network circuit alleviate fears about poor call quality, dropped calls, and privacy. Also, with Vonage Enterprise it is designed to scale so it can handle the requirements of online contact centers, internet support services and conference calling for up to 300 participants.
Basic features of all Vonage VoIP Business Solutions
The features that come with all of Vonage small business solutions include:
- An admin portal – this is an online web based portal for easy configuration from anywhere.
- Call continuity – Vonage makes sure there is no interruption to the VoIP service even in a power cut.
- Call waiting – be alerted when another call is trying to get through to you whilst you are already on a call.
- Emergency assistance (911) – direct dial feature for security and safety.
- Directory assistance (411) – standard directory charges apply for this service.
- Multiple devices share an extension number – add a mobile, home or desk phone to the extension then be found where ever you may be by simultaneous ringing.
- Call tagging and announce – tag regular customer’s numbers with a tag such as a name and have it whispered when answering the call but before connection.
- Caller ID – see who is calling before answering, works best with the call tagging feature.
- Call screening – send a call to voicemail.
- Dynamic Caller ID – change the number of your caller ID on your outbound calls.
- Do not disturb – when configured callers go direct to voicemail.
- Voicemail – with customized greeting and multiple mail folders, password protected access.
Mobile apps provide for teleworking and mobility and these are required features of Vonage that are considered to be very important in the modern world of business. This is particularly important for small business where employees are typically out of the office a lot or work from home as this saves considerable amount on office space and maintenance. For the employee, saving the time and cost of commuting is a definite benefit to working from home. However, mobility is also important for those employees that travel a lot or visit client sites or cannot make it to the office in times of bad weather or due to service outages as they can still work even though they cannot make it to the office.
Vonage Business Cloud’s mobile app is a free app that works on both Android and IOS, which makes mobility and teleworking viable through robust teleworking and mobility features such as:
- Work from anywhere – lets an employee work from anywhere there is a network or internet connection.
- Cell phone integration – can integrate with not just smartphones but also regular mobiles.
- Never Miss a Call – Configure the account to ring a home, office or mobile number.
- Call Pass – transfer an incoming call on your mobile to your Vonage desk phone.
- Voicemail Transcript – have transcriptions of voicemail sent to email.
There are many productivity features built into Vonage that are available such as:
- Click to Call Me – a website plugin that allows a customer to click on an on screen icon to initiate a VoIP call.
- Conference Bridge – this is for conference calling that supports up to 30 participants.
- Dashboard – this is a good administrator or supervisor tool in a call center as it allows stats off every extension to be viewed under a single screen.
- Paging Group – this is another administrative tool that allows a broadcast of a message to a configured group or groups in the company.
- Click to dial – turns telephone numbers into links to click on to dial, works well with Outlook integration and Skype.
- Paperless Fax – send and receive Fax by scanning docs and sending via the Vonage eFax service, this is a nice feature that some VoIP systems cannot deal with, but it is hardly paperless.
- Unified Inbox – manage all communication such as email, voicemail, fax through one inbox.
- Outlook Integration – integrates well with Outlook so you can easily integrate contacts with the phone system and then click to dial.
There are also other features suited for specialist purposes such as training and compliance via call logs and call recording and call monitoring.
The Vonage business solution is an application that comes free and it comes with an assortment of plug-ins that boosts productivity. The plug-ins does not come free but are additional components charged at a monthly fee.
The typical features are:
- Screen pop-up – which is a heads-up display alerting incoming calls
- Manage calls – place calls on hold, forward or even to record calls
- Intelligent integration – allows Vonage to integrate with Outlook, CRM, Finance and ERM applications to allow an agent to see current client status before connecting the call.
- Call Queues – This manages an agent to manipulate incoming calls and send calls to an expert agent
- Desktop plugins – this allows maximization of integration with third party applications
Examples of Desktop Plugins are APIs for: Bing search, Call history, Caller location and Google contacts. Furthermore, there are APIs for Method CRM, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Microsoft Outlook and Quickbooks.
The ability to integrate with other business applications is a major business feature as data is passed seamlessly between application and this mechanism provides for efficiency and productivity. This is one on Vonage’s best features as a business VoIP solution as it allows a business to collate and collaborate data from different segments of the business. Furthermore, it allows for close interaction between CRM, ERP and Finance application whereby a callers call ID can instigate an immediate retrieval of their customer history file. When a customer agent can see the customer history and credentials, they can answer the call using a personal greeting that can diffuse many angry calls. Additionally, by having the details and call history for an irate customer immediately on screen this assist the call center agent in assisting the irate customer. Consequently, they can by applying a personal introduction and then being knowledgeable with regards the customer’s complaint; the agent can prevent antagonizing the customer by having them repeat their complaint.
What is more, having a system that can identify an incoming call and provide an onscreen customer history allow the agent to answer a returning customer’s calls more efficiently as they have the clients call history before them. This is a fantastic tool for a business, which relies on a customer care or technical support function.
Vonage has integration APIs with CRM solutions such as SugarCRM, and financial packages such as Quickbooks, this means that the business VoIP phone system can be tightly integrated into the business. When a customer calls, an agent can see the caller’s current financial status, perhaps they have an unpaid subscriptions and the agent can address the situation verbally. Additionally technical support can review the customers fault history in order to determine a potential problem without antagonizing the customer asking the same questions on repeat calls over and over again.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Vonage is a market leader in international VoIP calls so any package that can supply those rates is well worth looking at. Vonage has the basic features that are available with most competitors’ solutions. Where Vonage stands out is with their integration with other third party applications. This is a major thing in business as it can allow finance, admin and call centers to share information and collate reports. Very few VoIP solutions have the range of integration that Vonage has and that is a huge factor in why an SMB might want to go for them. Vonage Business Cloud is also extremely cost effective.
On the down-side they do lack some of the IP/PBX features that are common even on open-source services, but the international call rates should mitigate any concerns that you may have.