Despite the myriad ways to interact, voice communication continues to be a common and powerful way for humans to conduct business (less so for other species). It’s usually easier to send an email or an instant message, but voice allows a faster back and forth, and for all parties to impart and read emotion, making it a critical tool for sales discussions. Voice over IP is now the dominant technology for making and receiving voice calls, and there’s no shortage of options.
There are so many VoIP choices that it’s hard for a business to know which one to select, so it’s a good thing you can turn to the PCMag Business Choice Awards for guidance. For more than 25 years, we have been augmenting our hands-on, labs-based product reviews with our Readers’ Choice Awards, in which PCMag readers rate the products and services they use the most. The Business Choice Awards extend the Readers’ Choice Awards by garnering feedback about the hardware, software, and services our readers deploy, administer, maintain, and use in a business environment.
We follow a consistent methodology to bring you the info you need to make the best choices for your business, no matter the tech involved. Our survey asked respondents to rate their overall satisfaction, reliability, and tech support experience with the VoIP service they use, plus the likelihood they would recommend it to others.
If you select, deploy, or administer the products in our Business Choice Awards, or if you advise or manage people in these roles, then you know how critical it is to choose the right products. The results of the PCMag Business Choice Awards survey are invaluable when doing so.
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Want a professional opinion? Read The Best VoIP Providers and Phone Services of 2018.
Voice over IP (VoIP) for Work
There are a wide range of VoIP solutions available to businesses today, from free solutions that are basically worth what you’re paying (if you don’t believe me, I’ll connect you with my friend who lost a $100,000 sale because his software startup insisted on using free Skype for all voice communications) all the way up to digital PBXs (private branch exchanges) that serve the largest companies in the world.
In this year’s survey, PCMag readers nominated over 200 VoIP services, of which 14 received enough responses to be included as finalists. Charter and ShoreTel, finalists in 2018, didn’t receive enough responses to be included; the rest of our core group has remained roughly the same for several years.
Our winner—and stop me if you’ve heard this before—for the fifth year in a row, is ooma . It earned stellar scores (again): an overall satisfaction of 9.2, a reliability of 9.3, a likelihood to recommend of 9.3, and one of the highest Net Promoter Scores I’ve seen at 89 percent.
While ooma continues to dominate, the company is facing always-increasing competition from PhonePower with an overall satisfaction of 9.2 and Google Voice with an overall satisfaction of 9.1. Both came close or equaled ooma for overall score, but they didn’t win since their other numbers were just a tad under what ooma offers users. As usual, Avaya and Comcast continue to fight for last place, with the somewhat good news being that Comcast isn’t last for the first time in the history of our surveys.
Reliability is an important measure for VoIP as it is an indication of the service’s ability to maintain high-quality voice calls. Ooma continues to dominate reliability scores for the fourth year in a row with a 9.2 (showing a steady increase of last year’s 9.1 and the previous year’s 8.8). Google Voice had a strong showing with a 9.1 (up from last year’s 9.0) as did PhonePower (9.0) and RingCentral (9.0). On the other side of the spectrum, Skype had the worst score for reliability at 7.4, closely followed by AT&T (7.6), Avaya (7.6), Comcast (7.6), and Verizon (7.7).
A very important measure of any software or service is the response to the critical question “How likely are you to recommend your VoIP service to a colleague?” It’s no surprise that ooma is in the lead with a 9.3 (up from last year’s 9.1), tied with Google Voice (up from last year’s 8.8).
That same question is used to calculate the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which really separates the VoIP tools from the VoIP toys. Ooma, once again, stands alone at the top of the pack with a killer 89 percent, getting stronger and stronger (from 70 percent to 68 percent to 72 percent to 89 percent), followed by Google Voice at 81 percent (a huge leap forward from 56 percent last year) and PhonePower at 74 percent (another big leap from 59 percent).
Bringing up the rear are the usual suspects: Avaya, AT&T, Skype, and Verizon. This is a breakthrough year for Comcast. After being the only VoIP provider with a negative NPS for the past four years, this year Comcast is only the fifth worst recommended VoIP provider in our survey.
Skype had the lowest percentage of respondents requiring technical support (2.6 percent, an improvement over last year’s 10 percent), closely followed by Google Voice (3.8 percent, an improvement over last year’s 5 percent). Otherwise stellar ooma had 7.3 percent of respondents requiring help, a continuing improvement from last year’s 15 percent, the previous year’s 26 percent, and the 21 percent the year before.
In terms of satisfaction with the tech support received, Vonage sits on top with an 8.1, followed by RCN (8.0, down from last year’s best of 8.9) and ooma (7.6, up from 7.5). It’s a good thing RCN has good tech support, because a whopping 44.7 percent of respondents need to use it; you probably want to think twice before signing up for a service where almost half the users require that much hand-holding to make it work. MagicJack users continue to report poor tech support experiences, although this year’s 5.7 represents an improvement over last year’s 5.4 and the previous year’s 5.3.
WINNERS: VOIP SERVICES
Five years on top! For half a decade of doing the Business Choice survey for VoIP, one name has consistently stood out with PCMag readers. Ooma is the perennial favorite in this category.
We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers’ Choice Survey mailing list. The surveys are hosted by SurveyMonkey, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from January 29, 2018 to February 19, 2018.
Respondents were asked to rate their VoIP Service using multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the email marketing solutions compare to one another and not how one respondent’s experience compares to another’s, we use the average of the email marketing solutions’ rating, not the average of every respondent’s rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, “Overall, how satisfied are you with your VoIP provider?”
Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.
Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 best seller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company’s customers than “how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors). (For more, read PCMag’s Top Consumer Recommended Companies for 2018.)
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