ANSWERED: What are the Best Cloud Communications Platforms?
By 2025, 36 million Americans will be working remotely, according to an Upwork survey. Even now, 41.8 percent of the American workforce is working from home. It's more important than ever to have a reliable and robust cloud communication platform.
If you're here, you agree. You've decided that UCaaS is right for your business. But with a plethora of UCaaS providers out there, which platform do you choose? It might be tempting to sign up with the big guns, and with a marketing budget the size of Texas, that's what they want you to do.
But can they provide the service that you need? There are some essential features you should be looking for when deciding on the best communications platform. While reading about these features, ask yourself two important questions:
- How important are they for your business?
- How can I keep costs controlled and still get the most out of the service?
We'll compare some of the top cloud communications platforms, helping you make an informed decision based on the criteria we provide.
Which Cloud Communications Platform is Best for You?
When it comes to communication, both customer-facing and within your business, you can't rely on costly on-premise communication systems. The cloud has revolutionized the industry, and communications companies are very aware.
Let's not beat around the bush: the big telecom companies are all about maximizing profit.
They'll sell you the "fastest," the "latest," and the "greatest," but do you need all of that?
Besides, they often aren't any of these things. Their product bundles are generally very rigid, don't offer customizations without an upcharge, and only include the services they say are important, not what you truly need.
The best cloud communications platforms provide a comprehensive and seamless experience. But they also offer personalized service, a first-class customer experience, are scalable, can broaden your horizons when it comes to hiring remotely, are cost-effective, and free up resources to enable your company to run smoothly and efficiently.
Which Capabilities Make a Cloud Communications Platform "The Best?"
With many companies offering cloud communications platforms, it can be a minefield trying to ascertain the best one. If they all offer the same thing, what's the difference? As with most service-based comparisons, the devil is in the details.
Here are some essential capabilities and criteria to use when evaluating cloud communications platforms:
- Comprehensive communication channels: Covers all the ways a business might need to communicate with their customers, including calling, text messaging, instant messaging, and video conferencing.
- Collaboration with team members: Documents uploaded to a cloud platform should be accessible from any device with an internet connection.
- Ease of integration: Enabling your custom business apps to integrate seamlessly
- Networks built to scale: As your business and team grow, the platform should easily scale to accommodate more users and functionality.
- Easy to set up and maintain: There's no need for purchasing, shipping, and setting up expensive physical infrastructure, and any issues can be taken care of by your provider remotely.
- High redundancy: If a server goes down, what happens? Cloud communications providers need to have redundancy and business continuity measures in place.
- Data security: Will the provider use constant backups and industry-standard security measures to secure your data?
- High-performance telephone and internet services: Call quality, video conferencing, and other important parts of your communication are all affected by internet speed, and download speeds, etc. Better quality equals better service.
- Cost: Scalable cost based on your specific service needs instead of an inflexible, cookie-cutter service package.
- Do they have their network? If they do, they have more control over call quality and performance.
With these criteria in mind, here are some of the best cloud communications platforms available right now.
Dialpad is a great option for small and medium-sized businesses. They're in line with industry pricing by offering a standard, pro, or enterprise "per user" model. However, the per-user model can get expensive fast. If you grow quickly, those monthly payments will soon eat a large chunk out of your budget.
Users like the inline texting capabilities and the clean, efficient interface. Dialpad promises teams can stay connected no matter where they are using their 100 percent cloud-based platform, yet there are reports of expanding feature sets without bolstering the core experience. The most common user complaints are focused on call quality and reliability.
The customer support experience is also under fire. With wait times of up to two weeks and support staff seemingly reading from scripts, Dialpad might not be up to scratch if you need open lines of communication to ensure a smooth-running platform.
The tech and integrations are plus points.
Offering all the features you would expect from a modern UCaaS platform, Nextiva also reports a 99.999 percent uptime, meaning no lost profits or leads. They also claim to have excellent 24/7 customer support, ensuring issues are addressed promptly. Cospace is a nice feature designed for remote teams. Instead of relying on a separate tool, users can stay connected with screen sharing, messaging, file uploads, and more.
The problem with all these capabilities is the lack of scaling options. You pay for the bells and whistles even if you don't need them. Another "per user" provider, Nextiva pricing can become complicated. And a quick look on Consumer Affairs seems to indicate their customer service isn't all it's talked up to be.
With more than 20 years of experience in the communications industry, RingCentral is a good choice for many businesses. They offer solutions to companies of any size, and their cheapest plan includes unlimited calling within the United States and Canada, unlimited business SMS, and document sharing.
If you need more features than that or have more than 20 users on your plan, you'll have to move up to a pricier plan.
In general, their customer service is good, but some customers have complained about outsourced customer service, being overcharged, and facing difficulties securing a refund.
What About Big Telecom Companies?
Companies like Comcast and Verizon offer all the capabilities of a UCaaS platform at a low price point. They tend to provide services nearly anywhere in the region and trade on their names to pull in consumers. However, as evidenced by the existence of comcast-sucks.com and verizon-sucks.com, there are many unhappy consumers out there.
Cloud communications platform features are pretty similar from company to company. What sets a cloud communications platform apart is trust. Can you trust your provider?
In the past few years, big network providers have been caught selling customer location data. And what about the hidden costs? Big telecom might advertise low prices, but there will be hidden fees and punishing costs to modify or cancel their services if you look at the small print.
These advertisements also cost millions to roll out, usually at the expense of quality. Big telecoms cut costs where it actually matters, like network reliability and customer support.
If you go with a big telecom cloud communications platform, you may struggle to customize your platform needs, and there will be no flexibility in what you receive. Even if you don't need all the services in a particular package, you're going to pay for them because rigidity in their service offerings helps them keep costs down. A lack of flexibility is built into their business model.
Lastly, let's talk customer support. Big telecom companies cut costs here by outsourcing phone support overseas. They follow a script, and if they don't think their network is the source of the problem, you'll be stuck. You deserve a local expert you can reach easily, without having to wait on hold for twenty minutes, and who can actually help you with service issues.
The real secret of what sets very similar cloud communications platforms apart? Caring.
It sounds cliche, but it's true. Providers that care:
- Deliberately build their networks for speed and reliability.
- Hire and train local customer support staff who stop at nothing to help a customer (even if their company's service isn't the issue).
- Build in redundancies to avoid costly outages for their customers.
- Offer customizable, scalable services, so you don't pay for more than you need.
Atlantech Online: A Cloud Communications Provider that Cares
As well as providing all the features available on cloud communication platforms, Atlantech Online caters its services to your needs. Every solution is customizable. With over 25 years in business and the last 15 years as a telephone company, we've always had a strong focus on customer service, Atlantech Online is a cloud communications provider that cares deeply about the success of our customers. Our focus is on uptime and your success, not shareholders or stock prices.
If that sounds like what you're looking for, request a quote to start the conversation about your cloud communications needs.
We'd also recommend some additional reading to ensure you know what you're getting into and how to determine exactly what you need with our ebook, 10 Questions To Ask Before You Buy UCaaS.