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RingCentral Review: Is It Good Enough for Small Businesses?

The lifeblood of any small business is its quality of service. All evidence points to it: if your customers can’t get in touch when they need you, they’re going to switch to a competitor.

You need a phone service that provides the kinds of features normally reserved for larger businesses, but at a reasonable price.

What are your options?

When it comes to business VoIP phone services, RingCentral should appear on any shortlist of candidates.

I’ll explain why you should consider it. First, the basics–what do you get for your money?

RingCentral overview

RingCentral offers a variety of pricing plans to help you match the services you need to your budget. Each plan tier contains the features of the previous tier along with some new features.

Pricing is available on a month to month basis, or you can save up to 33% per month by paying for the entire year. If you have 100 or more users on the system, you’ll get a slight monthly discount per user in the upper three pricing tiers versus with fewer than 100 users.

As an add-on cost, you will have to pay 3.9 cents per calling minute beyond the limit associated with the pricing tier you select.

RingCentral pricing and plans

Essentials

  • $19.99 to $29.99 per user per month
  • For 19 or fewer users
  • Toll-free numbers available
  • Voicemail to text service
  • 100 toll-free calling minutes

Standard

  • $22.99 to $34.99 per user per month
  • Video meetings with up to 100 participants
  • Local phone numbers for more than 100 countries
  • Integration with Office 365, G Suite, Slack, and others
  • 1,000 toll-free calling minutes

Premium

  • $32.99 to $44.99 per user per month
  • Video meetings with up to 200 participants
  • Allows management of multiple physical sites
  • Real-time analytics
  • 2,500 toll-free calling minutes

Ultimate

  • $42.99 to $59.99 per user per month
  • Device status reports
  • Device status alerts
  • Unlimited storage
  • 10,000 toll-free calling minutes

RingCentral key features

Base features include everything you would expect from a robust VoIP service: caller ID, call recording, logs and reports, auto-attendants, hold music, voicemail-to-text transcription, and more.

On top of that, RingCentral boasts:

  • A cloud based system. No need for special equipment, other than high speed Internet
  • Extreme reliability with guaranteed 99.999% uptime
  • Full video conferencing services (in higher pricing tiers)
  • Full international calling support
  • A feature-rich online portal for configuring your options and setting up users
  • Automatic maintenance and upgrades
  • Features that enable easy collaboration, including a mobile app, so employees can manage their accounts offsite
  • The ability to transfer your current phone number to your RingCentral account
  • The ability to make and receive calls from a computer or a smartphone, as well as a compatible traditional phone

What makes RingCentral different?

Small businesses often don’t have dedicated IT personnel. Which means they need a cloud based phone service that is extremely easy to use, and RingCentral fits the bill.

For small businesses that need excellent customer service support, RingCentral ranks highly versus other cloud-based phone services.

And if your employees regularly host large audio or video conference calls like webinars, RingCentral allows up to 1,000 participants per call. That’s competitive.

Let’s dive deeper into what RingCentral is capable of, and then a few caveats.

RingCentral pros

Scales as your small business grows

One of the most frustrating things about looking for a cloud based phone system is finding the right features and pricing for when your business is small, but also ensuring it can accommodate you as you grow. You don’t want to start with RingCentral only to have to switch to a different provider if it falls short.

RingCentral accommodates the needs of both small and growing businesses, scaling its offerings accordingly.

Some phone services will put a limit on your number of users. But RingCentral’s only user limit applies to the cheapest pricing tier, and its top three pricing tiers each allow for unlimited users.

Very easy to set up and use

One of RingCentral’s most well-known strengths is also one of its best. This VoIP phone service is extremely easy to set up and use, meaning small businesses that don’t have dedicated resources for managing the company’s technology can still use RingCentral successfully.

No need for special equipment or a change in your building’s wiring. All you need is a reliable high-speed Internet connection to use RingCentral.

The service also boasts one of the best customer service departments among cloud based phone services, in case you do have any issues.

Strong online portal and mobile app

For a cloud-based phone service to be truly useful for a small business, it needs to have a strong online portal. This is where your administrator(s) can control permissions and features for your entire workforce, and where employees themselves can access their account settings.

RingCentral’s online portal centralizes all the most important features and settings on the main screen, saving time on implementation.

Employees can also access their RingCentral account through the mobile app, which is helpful if they’re often on the go. Like the web portal, the app’s interface is simple and enables access to almost all the same features.

Excellent collaborative features

Considering its price point, RingCentral outperforms the majority of competitors in this area.

Your users will be able to set up calls with up to 1,000 participants at a time. There’s no reservation required to set up a call–you’ll have equal success setting one up at the last minute as when scheduling calls days in advance.

And there are plenty of ways for the organizer to manage how the call works–for example, muting all guests on the call at any time or locking out people who are late to join. RingCentral even automates the process of inviting participants.

Delivers high levels of security

Cloud phone services are susceptible to hacking if they don’t have the right security measures in place. RingCentral gives you peace of mind with regards to security. It outperforms the majority of similarly priced services here too.

For example, it applies high-level encryption to everything that occurs on its service. Even if employees are using their own phones, the same level of encryption occurs as when they’re using the web portal or a traditional business phone system.

Plus, it’s HIPAA and TRUSTe compliant.

For the truly security-conscious business, RingCentral does have an extra layer of security you can apply through its CloudConnect service (at an extra cost).

RingCentral cons

Requires SIP phones on-premise

Although RingCentral works well for folks who want to make phone calls using a softphone (over a computer) or mobile, you might want to use traditional phone hardware.

If so, you need SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) compatible phones, or you may have limited access to RingCentral’s features. (You can buy or rent hardware directly from RingCentral to ensure compatibility.)

Lowest priced tier lags others

Although we’d recommend RingCentral to the majority of small businesses, if you have a tight budget, you may want to look elsewhere. RingCentral’s Essentials tier has quite a few limitations, including a limit of 19 users and 100 toll-free minutes per month per account (not per user).

You’ll have to pay 3.9 cents per extra minute that you need, which adds up very quickly in busy offices. We’d strongly recommend Standard, Premium, or Ultimate plan unless on a temporary basis. If you expect to grow quickly, the feature set will quickly disappoint you.

Pay attention to your internet connection

As long as you have a strong and reliable internet connection at your location (or locations), using RingCentral will be cake. But with even the slightest hiccup in connection quality, RingCentral’s performance noticeably struggles.

According to RingCentral, you need a consistent 90 Kbps per simultaneous audio call and 120 Kbps per simultaneous video call to get good call quality. If you can’t reach speeds now, you could configure your on-site router to give more bandwidth to phone calls than to web traffic. But that adds to implementation costs.

Wrap up: Here’s what we’d recommend

Should you buy it?

We love RingCentral as a solution for small businesses. It has an impressive number of features, all at a reasonable price and easy to use, getting you up and running in no time.

Who should buy it?

RingCentral is best for business with more than 20 employees. It works superbly for larger organizations that rely on flawless communication, whether that’s internal or external.

Who should avoid it?

Operating with fewer than 20 employees? You might not have the communications needs to fully take advantage of this product and the cheapest tier just doesn’t include enough features to justify its cost. Instead, consider Grasshopper. That’s the solution we generally recommend for about a dozen or fewer users.

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