- Clever, enterprise-grade features
- CRM integration options
- Outstanding customer support
- Domestic rates to 9 countries
- Cost-friendly pricing plans
- Free 30-day trial
Being founded in 2007, Phone.com can still be considered a youngling in the cloud phone system market, but since then it managed to become a true market leader by following the philosophy of providing enterprise-grade communication at SMB prices to everyone. Phone.com is a one-stop shop for your phone needs, offering desk phones and other equipment that you can either rent or buy. The company doesn’t limit the number of users and extensions in any way, which can be managed from a single online account with or without the help of integrated third-party CRM software. Although the default Phone.com features are more than enough to satisfy most business’ needs, the main strengths of this VoIP provider are the extras, such as the downloadable softphone, the interesting ChatCalls feature, the complementary mobile app, business texting and more. Aside from that, all Phone.com users can enjoy domestic rates to almost 10 countries, outstanding customer support and, like promised, more than affordable prices.
Phone.com Virtual Office Overview
With Phone.com you can be sure that you will get all call handling features needed for maintaining an enterprise grade VoIP system. Aside from the nowadays standard HD call quality, you get the usual call forwarding, which can be further customized with clever call handling rules. All incoming calls are screened, showing you the most important info, therefore no caller can hide his/her number from you. However, you have the option to select your own caller ID and either put the caller on hold or switch to another one via call waiting from your account or by using the key commands on your phone.
You also have the option to set up an IVR (interactive voice response) menu for your callers or allow them to reach a department/coworker directly via the dial-by-name feature. A more advanced version of the latter option is voice tagging: it is a preset audio message which is played to the corresponding department/employee after the caller identifies whom he/she wants to reach. Phone.com also allows you to determine the order of ringing within departments/extensions, and even the whole system, but you can set your system to ring certain numbers until someone picks it up with the follow-me find-me feature. However, if you still can’t answer the call, you can get notified thereof via SMS, email or an indicator on your desk phone or softphone.
As for conferencing, each Phone.com system comes with a conferencing bridge which can hold up to 300 participants at the same time with the moderator having access to over 15 call control options, such as mute and unmute, requiring name announcement from newcomers and so on.
Phone System Management
The phone system manager, which cannot be fully accessed from mobile devices, is quite lackluster. Its biggest advantage is that, no matter in which submenu you are, you can always quickly reach the most important settings under four tabs via the top of the screen: your account info, the configurations, call info, including (pay-only) call analytics, logs and blocked numbers, and the support. It is the configure tab you will use the most, since it hides all major settings: this is where you can manage an unlimited amount of users and their extensions, and create queues involving your co-workers. However, you also have the option to create a global preset for incoming calls, meaning you can decide what should be done with them during certain periods of time. Speaking of which, you can set up a schedule, directing calls to voicemail or disconnecting them when your office is closed. You can also manage the menus your caller will hear whenever they call you, determining what action should be taken when a certain key is pressed. When your system receives a call, you and anyone associated to the system can create an individual greeting, which can either be a recording done by the receiver or a simple text read by the system itself. However, if you prefer something more professional, you can get the greeting done by Phone.com’s Professional Recording service for an additional $79 fee.
As for individual accounts, a user can check out the voicemails and business text messages, plus he/she can send and receive faxes without an actual faxing machine. Users can create click-to-call buttons, import contact lists from various sources (including Gmail) and initiate conference calls using said contacts. Just keep in mind that in case of an audio call, the participants are provided a separate conferencing bridge; audiovisual calls, on the other hand, are only enabled for 25 participants once you pay $20 per month.
Other, Extra Features
The most important add-on is Communicator, the company’s softphone powered by CounterPath, the same developer behind third-party softphone Bria. Although each account has a built-in voice-only softphone, it is very lame, therefore this downloadable software is a must, since it can fully replace your desk phone, plus it is capable of video conferencing. However, only the first Communicator is free: any additional download of the software costs $4.99 per month.
Another interesting feature, ChatCalls, is also an extra: $9.99 per month. This is basically the same as the option to get your greetings read by the system manager; the only difference is that this message is then actually sent to any phone number/email address you provide. You also have the option to send simple audio messages from the system (for the same price), but if you don’t want to pay a dime, choose business texting.
No matter what kind of phone number you want to use, Phone.com has you covered. You can even port one or more phone numbers from another VoIP provider, albeit you have to wait 10–15 business days (up to 60 calendar days) for the setup to be finished. By far the best thing is that, with the exception of international virtual numbers, the first local, toll-free, vanity, true 800 or ported number is included in all pricing plans. As for the aforementioned international numbers, they are $4.99 per month, which is the same price you have to pay for any additional number. Interestingly, you also have the option to add a custom local number to your account: it’s also $4.99 per month, but to be able to use that in the first place you have to pay a one-time $100 setup fee.
The good news is that both the Android and iOS app are completely identical. The bad news is that it is an extension, meaning that each individual user can only access functions related to his/her account, such as the individual address book, greetings, voicemails, text messages, faxes and other settings.
However, as an extension, or as a matter of fact, desk phone, the app works like a charm. With the voicemail feature you can separate your business and personal messages, and reply to them with a call, SMS or fax. Speaking of faxing and text messages, the former lets you send faxes scanned with your phone’s camera, while the latter is ideal for group messaging. And as for the calls, the very same app comes with an HD conference bridge for conference calls on the go.
Integration is usually not the forte of cloud phone systems, unless we take into consideration third-party softphones. However, Phone.com can integrate with an astonishing 17 third-party applications, all of which are CRMs. Despite this minor hindrance, you can integrate your Phone.com account with market leading CRMs like Zoho, Salesforce, Oracle, Insightly and Microsoft Dynamics. With the integration you got plenty of features otherwise not present in none of the pricing plans: such an advanced feature is a popup showing the necessary caller information even before a call is answered. Furthermore, you get better call analytics, the constant logging of your calls/messaging/faxes and a smart note box with natural language processing and @mention syntaxes you usually see on Facebook and Twitter.
However, to add this extra feature to your account, you have to ask for a quote from the company before you can even start the integration process.
When it comes to the default pricing policy of Phone.com, it is extremely generous, regardless which plan you choose from the three. The simplest, Basic plan is only $9.99 per month, for which you get all included features, 100 free minutes per month (with which you can place calls to 9 countries for U.S. rates) and a 30-day free trial. The two other plans, Plus and Pro include 500 and 1,000 free minutes respectively, plus a reduced fee for the first month of use.
This doesn’t sound bad at all, but unfortunately everything else costs an extra. For instance, you can buy additional free minutes from $35 per month, call recording of 300 minutes for $4.95 per month and call analytics for as low as $2 per month. Even such a trivial thing like the “premium” on hold music is $0.99 per month. And we haven’t even mentioned the option of buying unlimited minutes, additional devices and extensions, voicemail transcription, business texting, the ChatCalls feature, professional greeting, and the HD video conferencing.
However, the above “losses” can easily be recompensed by a refer-a-friend promotion which entitles you to $50 per each friend who creates a Phone.com account.
Customer support is one of, if not the biggest, strengths of Phone.com thanks to its versatility. If you prefer the traditional “trio”, you are more than welcome to contact the staff via email, phone and live chat support. The company is also available via Facebook and Twitter: although they use those two platforms mostly for self-promotion, both pages are updated in an extremely frequent manner (5–6 posts per day). Furthermore, the staff is able to answer questions in Spanish as well, albeit most support services (such as the FAQ) are only available in English.
As for other means to get help, there are plenty: you can read various articles in the blog, including basic setups for your phone system, which can also be found in audiovisual format on two YouTube channels. Furthermore, you can turn to the support center for getting started guides, instructions on how to set up your account, and troubleshooting ideas. And, as a nice extra, you can check out the system/carrier status to see whether Phone.com is up and running.
Phone.com is indeed a worthy competitor in the VoIP market, albeit with some hiccups. The biggest problem is one of its pros, the pricing policy: although all subscription plans are more than affordable and include a vast array of useful features, there are certain, sometimes essential functions, that can only be activated if you pay an extra. Moreover, not the entire system manager can be accessed via mobile devices – whether we talk about the app or the mobile version of the account. Other than this, everything else is quite outstanding. While Phone.com’s name suggests it’s all about phone calls, its tagline Communicate Better implies more than that, referring to the various other communication solutions it offers. The service holds clever extras like the Communicator softphone and ChatCalls, and rarities like integrations with third-party CRMs. And if we take into consideration the 4G apps, the free of charge phone number options, and their all-encompassing customer support, it is not surprising that Phone.com is loved and used by many.