No matter if you’re a high school, university, or education startup – when it comes to communications, you operate on the same level as any enterprise.
Parents complaining about grades. Students getting sick on campus. Clubs and societies. Extracurriculars. Trips and excursions. For all this, it is vital that school administrators, staff, and teachers have access to an efficient and reliable communications system.
VoIP business phone services can provide just that.
Why VoIP for Schools and Universities?
VoIP is short for Voice over Internet Protocol. Thanks to this technology, most modern business phone services have transitioned from traditional landlines to the cloud.
For education institutions, this brings a host of advantages.
To begin with, VoIP phone services are versatile, flexible, and scalable. While you can use VoIP desk phones, there are softphone apps for any internet-enabled device. This eliminates the need for new equipment, upgrades, or installing new phone lines. All admin can be taken care of in a web portal, cutting maintenance costs.
What’s more, most VoIP business phone services have moved far past simple audio calls. They often include both voice and video calls, email, live chat, conferencing, and messaging. Many providers offer additional functionalities, from advanced call management, to voicemail-to-email.
All these VoIP features simplify administration, collaboration between colleagues, and communication with teachers, students, and parents. This can be invaluable amidst the uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic for the new academic year set to start in fall.
Finally, VoIP phone systems also offer security advantages to education institutions. They make it easy to swiftly respond to campus emergencies. With one click, it is possible to contact any number of students, staff, and teachers with security instructions.
There is a host of competing offers on the market for VoIP business phone services. To get you started on your search for the right provider for your school, university, or education startup, here are five of the best.
1 – Nextiva
Heading the list is Nextiva, which provides easily the best offer for education institutions.
Voice and video calling, messaging, and email are all included in Nextiva’s package. And so are dozens of additional features – from voicemail transcription to advanced call management, which gives you control over call routing, holding, and blocking.
More advanced features include interactive voice response (IVR). Powered by artificial intelligence, this tool lets callers state the purpose of their call and routes them to the right extension automatically. This can be a serious relief for any receptionist and administrator struggling with high call volumes.
Nextiva’s team collaboration solution, Cospace, allows users to share files, have voice and video conference calls, and exchange messages. It can be an invaluable asset, especially with the reopening of schools in limbo, and remote teaching as well as virtual staff conferences always around the corner.
A final, massive plus is Nextiva’s stellar customer service. Available 24/7, it typically answers 95% of calls on the second ring.
Nextiva’s pricing provides outstanding value for money, with monthly subscriptions starting at $19.95.
2 – Dialpad
Dialpad provides unified communications – voice, video, email, chat, and text messaging – as well as a truly impressive set of additional features.
Advanced call queuing and routing, as well as caller ID management are all available. Furthermore, you can have Dialpad take notes on every call, or even transcribe it entirely. This creates a valuable paper trail, saving time for administrators.
Dialpad is also compatible with a number of office and business platforms, such as G Suite and Office 365. This way, you can seamlessly integrate the VoIP service integrates into your existing office setup.
If you run into problems, Dialpad’s customer service is available 24 hours on weekdays via phone, and 24/7 via live chat.
Dialpad’s standard plan starts at $20 per user and month, though some features are limited. Full functionality is unlocked with the Enterprise plan, for $35 per user and month.
3 – OnSIP
OnSIP is attractive to education institutions because it provides simple but solid VoIP services, at excellent value for money.
Voice and video calling, conferencing, and messaging are all included in the package. Additional functionalities range from auto-attendants to voicemail-to-email. Furthermore, OnSIP integrates with tools such as the team collaboration platform Slack and office tools like Microsoft Office. Its straightforward online admin portal makes it easy to set up and maintain.
Pricing starts at $18.95 for subscriptions. There is an extensive menu of features that can be added for a monthly fee, from call recording to hold music. You can pick and choose according to your individual needs – and you won’t end up paying for features you don’t need.
4 – Vonage
With a solid set of features and integrations, Vonage is another contender when it comes to business phone services suited for education institutions.
This provider offers voice and video calling, conferencing, team messaging, and live chat. In addition, the platform offers tools to streamline administrative processes, and increase efficiency. These tools range from virtual receptionists and call recording to social media integrations.
A particularly useful feature for schools and universities is Vonage’s extensive videoconferencing capability. Up to 300 participants can take part in a video conference – more than enough to teach a class long-distance.
When it comes to pricing, Vonage is solidly in the middle range. Its Business Cloud offer starts at $19.99 per user and month, with per-user cost dropping as lines are added.
5 – GoToConnect
Finally, GoToConnect offers voice and video calls and conferencing, alongside text messaging, and live chats. Complementing these communication channels are over 80 advanced features, such as pre-call announcements, estimated wait time, and custom hold music.
Like Vonage, GoToConnect offers outstanding video conferencing capabilities. Up to 250 participants can join as many as 25 HD video feeds. Useful additional features like one-click screen sharing and personal meeting rooms are also included.
GoToConnect also shines in terms of integrations. It connects natively to team collaboration platforms such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, as well as to office applications like G Suite and Office 365. A definite plus for education institutions: it also connects to CirQlive, which simplifies scheduling in Learning Management Systems (LMS).
Pricing depends almost solely on the number of users, ranging from $29.95 a month for a single user down to $19.95 per month and user for 50+ users.
VoIP business phone services can provide education institutions with flexible, scalable, and versatile communications. Overall, the right VoIP service can be an invaluable asset in overcoming various challenges, such as the COVID-19 crisis.
Choosing the right provider of VoIP phone services for your institution is not a straightforward process. There is a wide range of factors to consider and offers to compare to find a good fit on your individual needs.
However, with the broad offer out there, and this best-of list to get you started, you are sure to find the right provider – and gain valuable tools for an uncertain future.