The Best Office Phone Systems for Small Business

By Julia Watts | Content Manager | Updated: 21 October 2020

Discover the best telephone system for your small business


During the COVID-19 pandemic, staying in touch with your colleagues and customers is more important than ever. Fortunately, plenty of telephone systems can provide streamlined remote communications – with virtual switchboards, softphone capabilities, video conferencing features, and more.

We’re here to safely and remotely help you find the right telephone system for your business’ current needs. Just answer a few quick questions about your company, and we’ll match you up with the best telephones providers for your unique requirements. They’ll then be in touch with information and no-obligation quotes, all tailored to you. It’s the quickest, easiest way to compare your options, and it’s completely free


The experience you give a caller over the phone could be the difference between turning them into a loyal customer… and sending them running for the hills. That's why, as a small but growing business, you need to invest in the right business telephone system.

So, what makes an office phone system good? Well, top business telephone systems have clear audio quality, and ensure that you don't miss any important calls, that callers can be quickly directed to the right person, and that callers don't get frustrated while waiting for someone to answer. Oh, and they make internal comms between you and your employees smoother, too.

So you don't have to spend days researching, we've scoured the market for the best small business telephone systems around, all of which can help you to boost efficiency and improve customer experience…


The best small business phone systems

As a small business looking for a new office phone system, you’re really spoilt for choice. Here's our pick of the best small business phone systems on the market today.

The top 7 small business telephone systems are:

  • 8×8 X Series
  • RingCentral Office
  • 4Com HiHi
  • BT One Phone
  • Berry Technologies Cloud Phone System
  • Mitel MiCloud Connect
  • Lily Cloud

Want to find out what makes them so great? Read on for our reviews of each of these small business office phone systems, including prices, features, and more.

Alternatively, if you'd like to zero in on the ideal office phone system for your small business right away, simply answer a few quick questions about your needs, and we'll match you up with business phone system suppliers that can provide what you want. They'll then be in touch with tailored, no-obligation quotes – it's fast, free, and an easy way to find and compare the best options!


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8×8 X Series

Award-winning communications company 8×8 brings us the X Series, an all-in-one business phone system that's been designed specifically for small and medium business offices. Boasting HD audio quality, the X Series is a cloud-based VoIP system that's especially well-designed for remote businesses and employees who are on the move – with intuitive desktop and mobile apps that easily turn any device into a business phone.

Pros:

  • The more advanced plans enable you to contact a variety of countries outside the UK, which is great for international businesses
  • Offers a lengthy 30-day free trial
  • Boasts one of the cheapest starting price on this list...

X Cons:

  • ...But the most advanced packages will prove very expensive for small businesses

8×8 X Series: key information for small businesses

Type of business phone systemCloud-based VoIP
Inclusive minutes per userUnlimited
Number of countries covered1 – 47 (depending on price plan)
Free trail available?Yes: 30 days
Price range£8 – £90 per user, per month

8×8 X Series: features for small businesses

As with anything, the more you pay, the more advanced features you'll get – but all X Series plans come with:

  • Voicemail
  • Auto-attendant
  • Click-to-dial
  • Mobile and desktop apps
  • Instant messaging (for speedy internal comms)
  • HD video conferencing
  • The ability to integrate with G Suite and Office 365

A step up to the X Series X2 plan – which is still within the realms of a small business budget at £20 per user, per month – means you'll add call analytics, call recording, call queues, hold music, voicemail transcripts, and integration with Outlook, NetSuite, Salesforce, and Zendesk into the mix.


RingCentral Office

The number one cloud communications provider worldwide, RingCentral offers flexible, cost-effective business telephone system packages. RingCentral Office is its flagship, cloud-based VoIP office phone system for small businesses. With free implementation and training, plus 24/7 customer service lines, Ringcentral makes it easy to set up and expand Office when needed.

Pros:

  • Able to integrate with a long list of business software programs, for more streamlined processes
  • Boasts THE cheapest starting price on this list, and the more expensive plans still sit within a small business budget

X Cons:

  • Caps your minutes, while many other suppliers offer unlimited minutes

RingCentral Office: key information for small businesses

Type of business phone systemCloud-based VoIP
Inclusive minutes per user100 – 4,000 (depending on price plan)
Free trail available?Yes: 14 days
Price range£7.99 – £24.99 per user, per month

RingCentral Office: features for small businesses

All of the RingCentral Office price plans come with:

  • RingCentral Phone app for desktop and mobile
  • Glip collaboration tool (for instant messaging, chat rooms, and file sharing)
  • Call recording
  • Integration with Microsoft, Google, Box, and Dropbox
  • Voicemail-to-email
  • Call logs

However, paying for a more expensive RingCentral Office plan – which stop at £24.99 per user, per month – will give you additional features like call monitoring, call analytics, video conferencing, IVR, internet fax, the ability to integrate with Salesforce, Zendesk, and Desk.com, and more.


4Com HiHi

Described as “the most intuitive desk phone in the world”, the HiHi device is something to behold – with a large touchscreen-cum-detachable tablet that your employees can take on the go, customise with a choice of apps, and use to store files.

Now, your small business owner's eye may be telling you how expensive this looks – but 4Com makes it affordable by assessing your current office phone system costs (if you already have a system), cutting them down where possible, and repurposing those excess funds to cover your HiHi devices – so you may not end up paying any more than you do now.

Pros:

  • Looks stunning, with a colourful tablet interface that makes using the system nice and easy
  • It's easy to report a fault at any time, 24/7

X Cons:

  • Pricing and minute allowance are not very transparent – you'll need to contact the company to find out

4Com HiHi: key information for small businesses

Type of business phone systemCloud-based VoIP
Inclusive minutes per userUnclear
Free trail available?Unclear
Price rangeBespoke – you'll need to request a quote

4Com HiHi: features for small businesses

HiHi business phone systems come with:

  • HiHi Connect and HiHi There mobile apps
  • Video conferencing
  • Call reporting
  • Call recording
  • On-hold marketing
  • Plug-and-play scaling for easy expansion
  • OTA software updates

Did You Know?

We offer a service that makes it easy to gather bespoke quotes from a range of business phone system suppliers, all at once – so you can easily find and compare the right options for you.

All you need to do is answer a few quick questions about what your business needs. We'll then match you up with suppliers that can provide a suitable phone system solution for you. Soon enough, they'll be in touch directly with no-obligation, tailored quotes and info for you to compare. It's fast, easy, and – best of all – free!


Berry Technologies Cloud Phone System

With over over 16,000 phone system users, the award-winning Berry Technologies prides itself on its personalised customer service – complete with dedicated account managers, super speedy tech support, and (unlike a lot of other telecom companies) a 24/7 phone support line. Plus, Berry is ultra-flexible, and can craft you a custom office phone system. Given Berry's unerring focus on its customers, its cloud-based office phone system is certainly an excellent choice for small businesses.

Pros:

  • Very customisable – you can choose the features that best suit your business
  • Berry has a focus on supporting you, with a dedicated account manager, 24/7 over-the-phone support, and quick tech help

X Cons:

  • Pricing and minute allowance are not very transparent – you'll need to contact the company to find out

Berry Technologies Cloud Phone System: key information for small businesses

Type of business phone systemCloud-based VoIP
Inclusive minutes per userUnclear
Free trail available?Unclear
Price rangeBespoke – you'll need to request a quote

Berry Technologies Cloud Phone System: features for small businesses

Uniquely, Berry offers a dazzling variety of different phone system features, and enables you to create a bespoke system that combines the functions that your small business needs.

Those features include:

  • Auto-attendant
  • Hunt groups, pick up groups, and paging groups
  • Call recording and live monitoring
  • Voicemail to email
  • Hold music
  • Instant messaging
  • Conferencing, including screen sharing and video
  • Integration with Lync and Skype for Business
  • Hot desking
  • Mobile phone pairing
  • Call reporting and analytics
  • Call centre capabilities
  • IP DECT

BT One Phone

Choosing BT's best office phone system is a difficult feat. The communications behemoth offers a handful of excellent – but different – systems for small businesses, from cloud-based VoIP to on-premises PBX (and on-premises VoIP, for the best of both worlds). Today, though, we're talking about BT One Phone. Using SIM cards, a mobile app, and an online portal, BT One Phone turns your team's mobile phones into a business phone system – perfect for ensuring that employees who are often on the move never miss a call.

Pros:

  • Perfect for effectively working from home or on the go
  • No need to purchase handsets (though you can add BT deskphones to your system if you wish)
  • BT is a trusted, leading name in telecoms

X Cons:

  • More expensive than some of the other systems on this list

BT One Phone: key information for small businesses

Type of business phone systemMobile network
Inclusive minutes per userUnlimited
Free trail available?Unclear
Price rangeBespoke (but average monthly spend is £35 per user)

BT One Phone: features for small businesses

According to BT, the One Phone system boasts over 250 features(!) for small business offices. Notable among those, though, are:

  • One Phone online portal, using which you can route calls
  • Real-time reporting on call and data usage
  • Add international roaming
  • Dedicated indoor mobile network for your office
  • Access to 5 million BT wifi hotspots
  • Wifi calling and 4G calling, for when there's no mobile signal

Mitel MiCloud Connect

Mitel's MiCloud Connect system comes recommended for small business offices – with budget-friendly prices and a lot of flexibility. MiCloud Connect offers three packages – but what's unique here is that these plans are ‘mix and match'. For example, if the majority of your employees require the basic Essentials plan, but a handful need the more advanced Elite plan, Mitel will enable you to pay for those different packages in the numbers you need them. That's a level of customisation that's sure to be valued by dynamic small businesses.

Pros:

  • Very customisable – you can mix and match plans to give the right features to the right people
  • Prices sit within a small business budget

X Cons:

  • The cheapest plan only enables up to eight people to join video and audio conferencing, and up to 4 for web conferencing

Mitel MiCloud Connect: key information for small businesses

Type of business phone systemCloud-based VoIP
Inclusive minutes per userUnlimited
Free trail available?Unclear
Price range£13.59 – £23.79+ per user, per month

Mitel MiCloud Connect: features for small businesses

Mitel's cheapest plan, Essentials (which starts at £13.59 per user, per month), comes with:

  • Audio, video, and web conferencing
  • Instant messaging
  • Softphone capabilities
  • Mobile apps
  • Integration with Outlook, G Suite, and Connect Telephony for Microsoft
  • Mitel Teamwork and business SMS
  • An admin portal

Bumping up to Premier (starting at £17.84 per user, per month) will add Salesforce CRM integration, voicemail transcription, and on-demand call recording to the list. Meanwhile, Elite (starting at £23.79 per user, per month) includes all of this, plus always-on recording, archiving, and an operator function.

It's also worth being aware that, the more expensive the package, the more employees will be able to join your audio, video and web conferencing.


Lily Cloud

Supplied by award-winning communications company Lily Comms, Lily Cloud is an office phone system that's designed to scale. With on-demand features and same-day provisioning, the system enables you to add or remove users quickly and easily (which is encouraging for small businesses, whose futures are typically unpredictable). Reassuringly, Lily Comms offers some stellar support, too, giving you a dedicated account manager and providing options for 24/7 support.

Pros:

  • Lily has a focus on supporting you, with a dedicated account manager and 24/7 service
  • Lily Comms claims that 86% of its customers have saved money since joining

X Cons:

  • You'll need to pay extra for team collaboration features (via the Collaborate platform)
  • Pricing and minute allowance are not very transparent – you'll need to contact the company

Lily Cloud: key information for small businesses

Type of business phone systemCloud-based VoIP
Inclusive minutes per userUnclear
Free trail available?Unclear
Price rangeBespoke – you'll need to request a quote

Lily Cloud: features for small businesses

Lily Cloud comes with a variety of office phone system features, including:

  • Auto-attendant
  • Call recording
  • Personalised messages
  • Custom hold music
  • Softphone capabilities
  • Access over the web and via a mobile app

You can also choose to integrate Collaborate, Lily's unified communications platform, with your Lily Cloud system. This enables features that are designed to facilitate teamwork, including:

  • Audio and video conferencing
  • Web collaboration
  • Instant messaging
  • Integration with Outlook
  • Presence

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Next steps

Finding the right phone system for a small office is vital. A lack of space means small businesses often can’t afford to house large, loud and costly on-premises hardware.

Instead, the hosted systems covered in this guide provide an excellent alternative. By hosting your business phone system externally – in this case, in the cloud – you can instead keep initial investments to a minimum, while affording monthly payments for custom plans and solutions tailored exactly to meet your needs.

Still, with so much choice available, and with so much jargon surrounding the topic of office telephones, it can be hard to know where to start. That's why we want to help you cut through the noise, and find the right business telephone system for you easily and quickly.

To get started, simply answer a few quick questions about what you need. Behind the scenes, we'll match you up with business phone system suppliers that can cater to your needs. They'll then be in touch directly with no-obligation quotes – it's a quick and easy way to find and compare the best options for you.


FAQs

1. What are the best home business phones?

All of the models listed above are suitable for homes business phones. At the end of the day, it just depends on your preference and your needs.

If your home business phone is to double up as a home phone, take a look at the top 10 cordless models. These are great as both home and business phones, as they leave you free to take calls throughout the house.


2. How much should an office phone system cost?

This is very difficult to answer definitively, as the costs you face will depend on a number of factors, including the supplier you choose, the size of your business, the type of phone system you want, the features you plump for, and more.

To get a more detailed idea of the exact figures involved, head over to our ultimate guide to phone system prices.


3. Traditional PBX vs. VoIP: what’s the difference?

The long and the short of it is a traditional PBX system uses the landline to make and receive calls, while a VoIP system uses the internet.

Both phone systems allow you to receive multiple calls at the same time, but while a PBX uses a digital on-premise switchboard to branch calls of to different handsets, a VoIP system uses a Cloud-based server.

Find out more information about the two phone systems in the sections below. If you already know which phone system is right for you, compare telephone system quotes, simply by filling in our form.

Traditional PBX systems

Traditional phone systems (PBX )

A traditional phone system, is suitable for small businesses with a handful of employees. All you need is one line in, and a couple of handsets so more than one employee can pick up the phone if it rings.

If you tend to receive lots of calls, having one phone line could be holding you back. This is where a PBX system comes in.

A PBX phone system turns your traditional phone system into a multi-line system by giving you the option of adding extensions to each handset. Once a call comes in, the PBX auto attendant directs the caller to the right extension number, freeing up the phone line for another call to come in.

The features of a PBX phone system are basic compared to VoIP, however you'll still be able to coordinate incoming and outgoing calls, make call transfers, and manage voicemail and extensions.

The great thing is, many suppliers give you the option to create an IP PBX system. This uses SIP trunking to connect a traditional phone system to the internet, meaning you can make calls over the internet, and benefit from VoIP functionality, in addition to making calls using the traditional landline.

VoIP systems

VoIP phone systems

Unlike a physical, premises-based business telephone system, VoIP phone systems work by transmitting the phone audio over the internet.

It is important to make sure that your VoIP phones don’t all use the same connection for the internet. Otherwise, you risk garbled or dropped calls if multiple people are online at once.

The number of lines you need for a VolP phone system depends on how many people will use the system at the same time.

For example, a two person organisation will be likely to only need two lines. A 10 person organisation will generally need five to seven lines, and a 100 person organisation could only need 20.

VoIP systems also have hosted (cloud-based) and non-hosted versions.

So what’s the difference between business IP phone systems and VOIP ones?

In short, IP uses a private data network to carry conversations over distance. VOIP uses a public data network. If you don’t have a private network, you’ll need to opt for VOIP. So long as it’s installed properly, you shouldn’t notice a difference in quality.


4. How do I choose the right phone system for my business?

when looking for a business telephone system, start by asking yourself these 10 questions to help narrow down your options:

  1. How many lines do you need?
  2. How many extensions are required?
  3. What features would you like on your system?
  4. How many line provider sockets do you need?
  5. Can your telephone system expand with growth?
  6. Will you require call forwarding to mobile devices, and their integration into your system?
  7. Will you require call redirection to staff members who work from home?
  8. Do you wish to have a high-speed data network installed, which is able to use wireless technology?
  9. Is there a need for your business to be able to integrate the phone system with the IT used?
  10. Will you need to be able to identify customer details and dial numbers from a computer? This is called Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
  11. How much are you looking to pay for line rental?

Remember, we can help you to find the right phone system for your business quickly. Simply answer a few questions about your business' needs, and we'll match you up with the best system suppliers for you. They'll then be in touch directly with no-obligation, tailored quotes, so you can compare your options easily.


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Julia Watts Content Manager

Specializing in the complex realms of telephone systems, business energy, vehicle tracking, asset tracking, and fuel cards, Julia writes content that cuts through the noise to help you find the right solutions and technologies for your business. Having spent five years working across the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, she loves helping exciting ventures – big or small – to flourish.

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