Small business owners and employees often wear several hats, including managing the company’s technology. With no IT department to research, buy, and install a business phone system, it’s especially important to work with a business phone service that’s straightforward and easy for anyone to set up and maintain.

Our guides are here to help. Our rating of the Best Small Business Phone Systems includes prices, advantages, and potential downsides of each service. This page also describes many of the most important factors in choosing a new service. Our main Business Phone Systems guide is also a good resource for simple explanations of this complex topic.

(Chainarong Prasertthai)

Best Small Business Phone Systems of 2020

Dialpad

3.9 out of 5

Base Monthly Cost $15 – $20
Subscriptions Monthly or Annual
24/7 Tech Support
Trial Period 14 Days
View Plans »
Grasshopper

3.9 out of 5

Base Monthly Cost $26 – $29
Subscriptions Monthly or Annual
24/7 Tech Support
Trial Period 7 Days
View Plans »
8×8

3.8 out of 5

Base Monthly Cost $12
Subscriptions Monthly
24/7 Tech Support
Trial Period 30 Days
View Plans »
Vonage

3.8 out of 5

Base Monthly Cost $14.99 – $19.99
Subscriptions Monthly
24/7 Tech Support
Trial Period 14 Days
View Plans »
Ooma Office

3.4 out of 5

Base Monthly Cost $19.95
Subscriptions Monthly
24/7 Tech Support
Trial Period 30 Days
View Plans »

Not every good business phone system is appropriate for a small company. Using our unbiased methodology, we evaluated more than a dozen different services to find ones that are a good fit for businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The cloud-based services that made our 2020 list of Best Business Phone Services for Small Businesses are affordable, flexible, and easy to use with a mobile device. Follow the links in the companies’ summaries to read our full reviews. Below the summaries, we go into more detail about what a small business should consider when buying a business phone plan.

Dialpad

Dialpad

Best for small businesses

Base Monthly Cost
$15 – $20/user
Trial Period
14 Days
Subscriptions
Monthly or Annual

Dialpad: Our top pick for small businesses is Dialpad. It’s a superb choice for those who want to keep costs low, use a variety of devices, and only need basic video conferencing. This cloud-based phone service was created for mobile phones and bring-your-own-device work environments. It also supports internet protocol (IP) desk and conference phones, which is good news for offices that already have phone hardware installed. Robust calling and collaboration features use artificial intelligence to generate real-time customer insights. Monthly per-user rates for the base plan are $15 or $20, depending on if you pick monthly or annual billing. Learn more in our Dialpad review.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Best with a flat fee

Base Monthly Cost
$26 – $29
Trial Period
7 Days
Subscriptions
Monthly or Annual

Grasshopper: Grasshopper is a straightforward cloud Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) business phone service designed to give startups, solo entrepreneurs, and small companies a professional edge. The service uses smartphones and computers as softphones and comes with a simple app to manage your phone calls (but little else). Plans run from $29 per month for one phone number to $89 per month for five numbers, and you’ll pay this flat fee instead of a per-user fee. Learn more in our Grasshopper review.

8×8

8x8

Best value

Base Monthly Cost
$12/user
Trial Period
30 Days
Subscriptions
Monthly

8×8: 8×8 serves companies of all sizes, but its Express Standard Communications plan is geared towards small businesses with a single location. It offers unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada, call management features, audio and video conferencing, business texting, and mobile and desktop apps. At $12 per month per user, 8×8 Express is the least expensive service in our comparison. Learn more in our 8×8 review.

Vonage

Vonage
Base Monthly Cost
$14.99 – $19.99/user
Trial Period
14 Days
Subscriptions
Monthly

Vonage: Vonage’s base plan combines a basic business phone service with team collaboration tools and some advanced calling features. Convenient standard features include call flip (to switch between different devices in the middle of a call), whisper announcements about your next caller, text messaging, and video conferencing. Its mobile-only Vonage Business Cloud plan costs about $18 to $20 per month per user, with unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada for offices with fewer than 20 users. Note that these prices don’t include a local or toll-free number, both of which are add-ons with Vonage. Learn more in our Vonage review

Ooma Office

Ooma Office
Base Monthly Cost
$19.95/user
Trial Period
30 Days
Subscriptions
Monthly

Ooma: Ooma’s cloud-based VoIP service has 35 standard features and costs $19.95 per month per user. Customers can use analog phones, IP phones, smartphones via the mobile app, or all three. The service comes with a rich set of calling features but is more of a basic business phone system than a unified platform. Plans that allow instant messaging, file sharing, and connection to clients via video cost at least $25 per month. Learn more in our Ooma Office review.

Saving money is a major goal for all companies, but especially those with fewer than 100 employees and those in their first seven years of business. “Cost is a huge factor for [these companies] in their operations,” says Supradeep Dutta, a University at Buffalo assistant professor and an expert in technology and entrepreneurship. “VoIP is one thing to reduce the cost of communications.”

Small businesses have led the move to cloud VoIP business phone services. These multitenant solutions are based on a subscription model, with companies paying a monthly fee for each user or phone line. Upfront costs are limited to purchasing or renting IP desk phones, and system maintenance is the responsibility of the service provider, not the small business owner. By comparison, on-premises business phone systems require installation of hardware and software, and someone – an employee with IT experience or a contracted service provider – to make repairs, update software, and back up the system.

Cloud VoIP phone solutions offer flexibility as well. For expanding businesses, this means that when “you need more lines or more communication networks, you can scale it up,” Dutta says. Administrators simply add users through an online account portal.

By downloading apps for the service, small companies can skip the desk phones – or even the office – altogether. The apps let employees use their own smartphones and computers to make calls and send texts from the business phone number, as well as host videoconferences and more.

Businesses that are between small and midsize, or those on target to surpass 100 employees, may also want to take a look at our rating of the Best Midsize Business Phone Systems of 2020. Picking a service that works for both small and larger businesses helps ensure that you can easily scale with your business phone system.

Buying a business phone service can be an overwhelming process. The choices are vast and you have much to consider, from system types and features to cost and even your customers’ expectations.

It wasn’t always this way. Not long ago, business phone systems were generally the same, which made them easy to compare. “It was all apples to apples,” says Sam Sansome, who co-founded telecommunications broker USA Voice & Data and has nearly 30 years of experience in the industry. Often, decisions were based on the handsets a company liked best, he says.

This changed with the introduction of VoIP, which lets people make calls over the internet, and the ability to host data in the cloud, which ushered in unified communications as a service (UCaaS). Today, most providers aren’t selling standalone business phone services. Instead, they’re bundling phone services with other capabilities, such as messaging, videoconferencing, business applications, and contact center solutions.

“The market really is shifting, and there are a number of considerations beyond the core voice components that business owners (and) managers should consider when purchasing a business phone service,” says Megan Fernandez, who tracks telecommunications trends as a senior principal analyst at Gartner, a technology research and advisory firm.

The number of providers selling these services has grown as well. “Right now there are over 500 companies selling hosted phone systems in the United States,” says Phillip Sherman, president of Telecom Advisors Group, which helps companies find phone solutions to fit their business needs. “A new one or two pops up just about every day.”

The following describes our 360 approach to researching and analyzing Business Phone Systems to provide guidance to prospective businesses.

1. We researched the companies and products people care most about.

U.S. News analyzed and compared a variety of publicly available data, including internet search data, to determine which Business Phone Systems readers are most interested in.

Using volume of searches and consumer research, we found 15 companies that stood out for further evaluation. After conducting a comprehensive analysis, we were able to condense the initial list to the eight Best Business Phone Systems. We also determined which of these phone services would be the best for different sizes of businesses, which was categorized as small, midsized, and enterprise. These results were based on thorough research and the editorial team’s objective judgment.

U.S. News researched the most important features of business phone services to create a general layout of what readers should know to assist with their purchasing decisions. We evaluated the various plans along with the monthly costs. The plans highlighted features that would aim to enhance businesses’ functionality and productivity, including mobile app availability, app integration capability, IP telephony, audio/video conferencing, and instant messaging. From this, a service with the proper requirements can be selected to get the most comprehensive package. With these factors in mind, we created a thorough report that provides a 360 overview of what businesses should consider.

2. We created objective 360 Overall Ratings based on an analysis of third-party reviews.

Our scoring methodology is based on a composite analysis of the ratings and reviews published by credible third-party professional and consumer review sources. The ratings are not based on the personal opinions, tests, or experiences of U.S. News. To calculate the ratings:

(a) We compiled two types of third-party ratings and reviews:

  • Professional Ratings and Reviews: Many independent Business Phone System evaluating sources have published their assessments of Business Phone System companies and products online. We consider several of these third-party reviews to be reputable and well-researched. However, professional reviewers often make recommendations that contradict one another. Rather than relying on a single source, U.S. News believes businesses benefit most when these opinions and recommendations are considered and analyzed collectively with an objective, consensus-based methodology.
  • Business Consumer Ratings and Reviews: U.S. News also reviewed published consumer ratings and reviews of Business Phone Systems. Sources with a sufficient number of quality consumer ratings and reviews were included in our scoring model.

***Please note that not all professional and consumer rating sources met our criteria for objectivity. Therefore, some sources were excluded from our model.

(b) We standardized the inputs to create a common scale.

The third-party review source data were collected in a variety of forms, including ratings, recommendations, and accolades. Before including each third-party data point into our scoring equation, we had to standardize it so that it could be compared accurately with data points from other review sources. We used the scoring methodology described below to convert these systems to a comparable scale.

The 360 scoring process first converted each third-party rating into a common 0 to 5 scale. To balance the distribution of scores within each source’s scale, we used a standard deviation (or Z-Score) calculation to determine how each company that a source rated was scored in comparison to the source’s mean score. We then used the Z-Score to create a standardized U.S. News score using the method outlined below:

  • Calculating the Z-Score: The Z-Score represents a data point’s relation to the mean measurement of the data set. The Z-Score is negative when the data point is below the mean and positive when it’s above the mean; a Z-Score of 0 means it’s equal to the mean. To determine the Z-Score for each third-party rating of a company, we calculated the mean of the ratings across all companies evaluated by that third-party source. We then subtracted the mean from the company’s rating and divided it by the standard deviation to produce the Z-Score.
  • Calculating the T-Score: We used a T-Score calculation to convert the Z-Score to a 0-100 scale by multiplying the Z-Score by 10. To ensure that the mean was equal across all data points, we added our desired scoring mean (between 0 and 10) to the T-Score to create an adjusted T-Score.
  • Calculating the common-scale rating: We divided the adjusted T-Score, which is on a 100-point scale, by 20 to convert the third-party rating to a common 0-5 point system.

(c) We calculated the 360 Overall Score based on a weighted-average model.

We assigned “source weights” to each source used in the consensus scoring model based on our assessment of how much the source is trusted and recognized by consumers and how much its published review process indicates that it is both comprehensive and editorially independent. The source weights are assigned on a 1-5 scale. Any source with an assigned weight less than 2 was excluded from the consensus scoring model.

Finally, we combined the converted third-party data points using a weighted average formula based on source weight. This formula calculated the consensus score for each product, which we call the 360 Overall Rating.

Get tips on comparing business phone systems and find the best phone service for you with our ratings and guides:

Other Business Guides from 360 Reviews

We’re here to help your business be as efficient and profitable as possible. Check out some of our other guides, each of which includes buying tips and our ratings of the best services:

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.