2020 made everybody switch to online working. For some businesses, this was a real challenge. But one way to make it easier is to connect your workers and clients by using a powerful business VoIP (voice over internet protocol) communications platform. RingCentral has become one of the most popular programs to use for collaboration and communication in this wild new world we live in.
You can make and receive calls, have automatic call recording, consent to receiving calls, and completely manage receiving calls and emails with this service from VoIP providers. Your business phone number is your lifeline to the outside world. Having a full site admin and management assures that none of them are going to slip through.
But what makes it so special compared to other options, like Microsoft’s Teams or Grasshopper? The engineers have poured their hearts into their code and given their platform some amazing features. We’re going to look at each plan they offer to see just what features they offer and help you decide which one is best for you.
RingCentral Features That Make It The Top VoIP Service
The entry-level tier provides the basics of VoIP services. As of December 2020, the price starts at $29.99 a month per user when you pay the whole year upfront. If you decide to pay month to month, it’s going to cost another $10 per user per month. This applies to every plan that RingCentral offers, so keep that in mind when calculating value. It’s generally better to pony up the money upfront so you get the best deal.
The price goes down as you add more users. The website has a handy slider that you can use to set the prices according to the size of your company or the number of users you need. The Essentials Plan is only available for groups of 20 users or less. So, what do you get with the essentials plan?
VoIP Phone Service Numbers
The very definition of essential VoIP service is having a VoIP phone number. With this, people around the world can call you using their phones, and you can answer them from your computer or your phone if you are logged into RingCentral’s app. You can also make unlimited calls within the United States and Canada.
You can also get a toll-free number for clients to call so that they don’t have to pay to contact you. However, at this basic level, you only get 100 minutes of toll-free calling, so if you expect a large volume of calls to your toll-free number, you might want to upgrade right away. Call RingCentral Office Customer Support if you want to upgrade fast.
You can also send text messages (SMS) with these numbers. If someone leaves a voicemail on your VoIP number, it can be turned into a text message that can be emailed to you. If you’re just looking to try out a VoIP phone system, you can also get a free trial of the Essentials Plan to see if it’s the right fit for you.
Messaging and Document Sharing Using the RingCentral App
Here’s where RingCentral really shines. Phones are so outdated. Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to pick up the phone to answer a call? Well, now you don’t have to. Just install the app on your computer or use the web browser to communicate with everyone on your team.
With the essentials plan, you can send texts and share documents easily with just a click. Higher-level plans unlock even more features within the app.
The app is really easy to use. You can create custom groups for different departments in your business, or users can send messages to one another directly. And if your workers are sleeping on the job, you can configure notifications via email or to their mobile apps so they know when they need to log in and read an important message.
For just $5 more a month per user, you can unlock a bunch of new features. The Essentials Plan honestly misses out on a few features that the Standard Plan offers. You should probably consider trying the Standard Plan first.
You get everything in the Essentials Plan plus a smorgasbord of new features that’ll supercharge your business and keep your team humming along like a well-oiled machine. The Standard Plan has no limit on the number of users, so you can scale it up as your business grows and never have to worry about hitting a wall.
You get access to 24/7 customer support at this level too. If you’re located outside of the US or Canada, you’ll love that there are phone numbers in over 100 countries! At this level, you can do almost anything.
Online Fax Service
Before you laugh at the suggestion of having to fax a document in the 21st century, consider that many government agencies still depend on faxes for filing paperwork and other business communications. In fact, in some states, notaries require faxed business communications and cannot legalize a scanned document. So, believe it or not, you might find that this fax feature can come in handy even today.
If you needed to fax something in a hurry, could you? How many functional fax machines do you have lying around? If your answer is more than one, and you’re not running some sort of fax machine museum, then you should probably just get the Standard Plan and throw your fax machines in the dumpster.
With this feature, you can send a document from your computer to a fax machine anywhere in an instant. No more clunky faxes, just smooth operation.
With the Standard Plan, you inject a shot of videoconferencing steroids into the legs of the VoIP app. Before, all you could do was text and share documents. Now you can start video meetings and up to 100 people can join them. The 24-hour limit on meeting length means that even the most intense workaholic can meet around the clock.
HD Video means that everyone on the video call will come through crystal clear, for better or worse. Even on slower internet connections, the software compresses the video so you can keep your video stream running smoothly.
If you’re having a bad hair day or simply don’t want the boss to see that you’re working from the bathroom, you can also just opt for audio-only conference calls and meet without having to make the messy bed in your background.
Call Management Software
VoIP phone numbers are great, but with the Standard Plan, they become downright incredible. You can set up call forwarding and transfer calls just like a professional switchboard operator. You’ll be able to access call logs and configure answering rules that filter out spam calls and block the disgruntled accountant that you dismissed last summer.
With quality-of-service reports, you’ll know when an employee is lying about their internet being broken. You can pinpoint technical problems down to the device the user was on during the call. You’ll never wonder why a client cut out ever again, which makes it easy to fix problems and keep them from recurring.
Integrations With Other Software
If you’ve got a subscription to Office 365 or Google’s G Suite, then you definitely want to integrate it with your VoIP software. If your workers are collaborating on a Google Doc, for instance, you can quickly share it with others through the RC app and keep the work moving forward.
Another reason to use integration is to get all of your contacts into the RingCentral app. Instead of porting them over you can link them all with a couple of clicks and start calling your clients through the app immediately.
The engineers have even designed several plugins for the Chrome browser, so you can place a call using your VoIP number by simply clicking on links you find online. Ordering lunch for the whole crew has never been easier.
Could it possibly get any better? You bet it can. The Premium Plan is the most popular and costs $10 more per user per month than the Standard Plan. It’s like going back to the buffet for seconds and finding a few new dishes fresh from the kitchen.
Your video calls can have up to 200 participants now. Toll-free numbers get a whopping 2,500 minutes so your customers never have to spend a cent to give you a ring. Plus, at this tier, all of your calls will be automatically recorded so that you can all listen again to Jeff’s hilarious joke. That Jeff is such a comedian.
You can even set up extensions for your phone numbers, which is great for internal phone calls. If you need to listen in on a call for quality assurance, you can do that too. You can even set up queues and tell customers about the estimated wait time, complete with elevator music.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Integrations
Customer Relationship Management software is the way of the future. Platforms like Zendesk, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics make it easy to keep track of your customers’ behavior and spending trends. These are great for keeping up with customer service requests too.
With the Premium Plan, you can integrate all of your VoIP activity into these CRM programs so that you can get even more detail on your customers and their interactions with your company. But the integration doesn’t stop there.
Lots of companies have developed their own proprietary software for business operations. But the more apps you have, the more confusing your operations can be. That’s why the Premium Plan gives you access to the API (application programming interface). You can actually tell the RC app what to do and integrate it directly with your own software.
If your business has multiple locations, then this is definitely the tier you want to purchase. You can customize all of the features on a location-by-location basis. For instance, you might want a different voicemail message at one location or prohibit one facility from receiving calls from a certain region.
Whether you just have multiple branches that perform similar functions or have different sites dedicated to entirely unique tasks, having the ability to manage each site independently is extremely useful.
Business intelligence has rapidly become one of the most important tools, regardless of the size of your enterprise. Being able to glean insights from your business activity simplifies decision making and improves productivity. With the Premium Plan, you can see just how much time your employees spend on calls, which features they use most, and who they’re collaborating with.
Best of all, these analytics reports are generated in real-time and can be sent to any user you choose. Data-driven decisions are always better than operating on gut feelings and instincts.
Ultimate Plan: The Ultimate Phone System
Wait, you still want more? The Premium Plan just isn’t enough for some of the future business magnates out there. If you want to unlock every feature and take over the world, you’re going to want to upgrade to the Ultimate Plan. For $15 a month per user more than Premium, you’ll have enough VoIP resources to run your own Death Star.
Your toll-free minutes go up to 10,000, which is a nice added bonus. But the other features take this plan to stratospheric levels.
The most common criticism of VoIP services is that if the internet goes out for whatever reason, your whole operation comes to a screeching halt. The RingCentral VoIP service boasts an incredible uptime and rarely ever experiences an outage, but the same probably can’t be said of your local internet service provider.
When you enable device reports, you will be notified the second a device goes offline. Whether that’s because your employee snuck out of the office and is running for the border, or because one of your locations had a power outage, you’ll be the first to know.
You can configure reports at regular intervals to see just which devices are being used and for what. It’s a level of surveillance that would make George Orwell blush. Chide your employees for inappropriate emoji use or congratulate your customer service reps for fielding the most calls. With the Ultimate Plan, you have unlimited power.
Speaking of unlimited, you’ll never have to worry about running out of cloud storage space ever again. Unlimited storage means you can record every call and video conference, keep every document, and save every report. For the biggest businesses, this is a must-have. Cloud storage can run out much faster than you think.
In the other plans, you get some cloud storage, but once you hit your data cap the system will start deleting older files. You might lose something important if you’re not paying close attention. The Ultimate Plan removes that worry and lets you focus on doing what your company does best.
Besides these amazing RingCentral Office plans, you can also opt in to additional features by contacting the RC Sales Team. You might be able to get some good discounts if you’re subscribed to one of the top-tier plans and have a large number of users.
Persist: The Offline Phone Service
If your business cannot stand even one second of downtime, you can ask about the Persist feature. This feature requires professional installation. A technician will install a special device that connects your local network and internet connection to a public phone service. If your internet goes down for whatever reason, your business phone numbers will still work.
This is also a great tool if you need to ensure that your building can make or receive calls from emergency dispatch services. RingCentral offers technical support if you have any issues with the service, a sign of a quality VoIP provider.
Customer Engagement Services
While you can use your VoIP system to communicate with customers, you might want a platform that’s more tailored to providing customer service. The Office plans we’ve described above focus more on internal operations. The Engage Voice and Engage Digital platforms are specifically designed to give your customers the attention they deserve.
You can interact with your clients more easily using these tools. Set up automated sales calls, send out surveys, and keep your customers coming back.
Physical Hardware: Buy a Business Phone
Even though you can use nothing but your PC or mobile phone and have access to all of the amazing features we described, sometimes a physical device on the desk is just easier to use. You can buy intelligent phone systems with internet connectivity straight from the RC web store. They also offer phone rental.
These desk phones and conference phones are linked to your RingCentral account and can display vital information about the caller before you even pick up. And if the person on the other end of the line is driving you crazy, you’ll have a phone that you can actually slam down. Don’t you miss the satisfaction of doing that?
If you’re looking for top-notch conference table microphones or high-quality headsets, they have those for sale too. Outfit your whole crew with the best gear and standardize call quality across your company. VoIP phones provide unified communications and RingCentral offers some excellent phone systems.
Which Plan Should I Choose?
So, after all that we’ve considered, what’s the best plan for your business? If you are a fledgling startup, you might be able to survive on the Essentials Plan alone, but we would recommend at least starting out with the Standard Plan. At just $5 extra per month per user, it’s hardly a significant hit to your bottom line.
Having access to all of the video calling features and integration with other programs makes the Standard Plan the smart choice for most small businesses. If you have lots of employees or have multiple locations, then the Premium Plan is almost certainly the way to go. Fortunately, upgrading can be done in minutes and the plans allow you to add users easily.
And if you’ve got control issues or are a digital hoarder, then get the Ultimate Plan and fulfill your fantasies of becoming an international supervillain.