by Karen McCandless
Published on 17 June 2015
Skype might be good enough for your Grandma, but can it really be trusted for your business communications?
On paper, Skype is now a tempting choice for a company, as well as being the go-to tool for catching up with tech-fearing relatives. While some businesses may be using the familiar consumer version (which is also available as a web service), the app also comes in another flavor: Skype for Business, which is part of the Office 365 platform. Skype for Business is a rebranded version of Lync, Microsoft's previous business communication tool. It was launched in mid 2015 and brought with it a whole host of enterprise security and IT control features, and includes some great tools for company collaboration.
But Skype (in both forms) is by no means without its issues (many of which are well documented), such as poor call quality, out-of-control notifications, poor connections, problems with Skype credit, and so on. The good news is that there are many communication apps that are credible alternatives to Microsoft's popular product. Here are some of the best of the bunch.
ringcentral RingCentral is an voice-focused alternative to Skype that brings a professional edge to VoIP for business. The solution emphasizes security, as well as ease of use, focusing on voice calling, text messaging and conference. And those are tasks that RingCentral does exceptionally well. Overall, it's solid, reliable, and flexible.
Aircall's VoIP solution is an excellent way to simplify and localize the way you connect with your customer. From providing you with local phone numbers in up-to 30 countries, to cascading phone calls through team members, to the shared inbox option where multiple employees can access voice messages, Aircall has a strong feature set. There are also no limits to the amount of calls you can make at one time, while desktop notifications mean that you can always be aware of when your customers are calling.
8×8 helps you to better service your customers with a smattering of intuitive features and a squeaky clean interface. It's a fully-featured VoIP application that provides more than just phone service. 8×8 also includes first-class web conferencing, faxing and mobile integration. If you're switching from Skype, you'll appreciate the improved audio quality, which sounds clear as a bell, thanks to its audio compression methods. Add to that excellent iOS and Android integration, and 8×8 quickly becomes a worthy alternative to Skype for business.
Phone.com is all about VoIP rather than video chat, focusing on providing the a fully-featured conference call service for your business. Innovative features include conference calling for up to 500 people, SMS messaging to your Phone.com number, the ability to send and receive faxes from your account, and integration with the Phone.com mobile app, which allows you to start group messaging chats. While you can use traditional landlines and mobile phones, the good news is that by downloading Phone.com's software, you computer can serve this purpose just as well.
Team on the Run
Team on the Run is a robust and scalable mobile messaging application, Team on the Run was designed for businesses of all sizes. From five-person wedding planning agencies to private organizations with 10,000 or more employees, Team on the Run is a reliable and convenient tool that saves organizations time, money, and space. In addition to secure mobile messaging, Team on the Run also offers mobile corporate directories, ECM support and cloud storage access, web chat, and VoIP/walkie-talkie capabilities..
As the name suggests, GoToMeeting is all about arranging meetings and it makes it pretty easy, too. With the ability to virtually meet with up to 25 people, you can either chose to chat via video or VoIP, or join with your mobile phone. There's a plethora of other useful features, including screen sharing, personal "chat rooms", and the ability to record the meeting and share it with those people who were unable to attend. It's straightforward and simple to use.
There are a couple of features that make Zoho Meeting a particularly interesting alternative to Skype. First of all, as Zoho offers a number of other apps such as CRM, Chat, and Calendar, you can start the meeting directly from there, as well as other integrations such as Google Apps. What makes it a useful business tool is that you can rebrand the app according to your company brand, as well as easily manage users and create customized reports. Then it also comes with all the usual features, such as VoIP, video chat, and screen sharing.
Cisco WebEx has a strong focus on HD video calling, with a key feature being its ability to show seven screens at a time. It also comes with audio and video recording options, as well as annotation, note taking, and whiteboarding tools. The screen sharing feature is pretty cool, allowing you to only share certain apps on your screen, instead of your whole desktop, as is the "call me" option, which has a phone call you instead of you having to dial in.
While Join.me may market itself as a simple solution that is super easy to use, it actually boasts features to rival its more "complicated" competitors. It has the usual VoIP, screensharing, video chat, and file transfer features, plus record functionality, the ability to chat with up to 250 participants, calendar plug ins, Salesforce.com integration, cloud storage, and personal chat rooms, along with integrated mobile apps. Overall, it's a fully-featured program that is suitable even for tech novices.
If you still haven't found what you're looking for, check out GetApp's full list of communication apps, or see how customer service, CRM, and call center apps are rated on GetRank, GetApp's quarterly ranking of business apps.