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Rotary phones are long gone and so are most phone booths. Even dedicated car phones have long since disappeared. And now, the office phone is also becoming a necessity of the past for many small business owners and entrepreneurs.
With certain smartphones apps dedicated to provide you an entire office phone system complete with a separate phone number and voice mail for your smartphone, you no longer need to be tied to a physical location. Grasshopper is one of those very apps.
Grasshopper is a very simple and well-round virtual phone system that runs on both iOS and Android smartphones as well as on your laptop or desktop. It's easy to install, setup and use. And, it's surprising affordable.
Some of the most important features are:
- A unique local or toll free business phone number separate from your smartphone's number
- Department and/or team member extensions that reroute to different phones
- Caller ID
- Voicemail that is retrievable from your phone, your email, or the Grasshopper website
Aside from all the great features, it's also a really affordable option with different payment plans depending on your business's unique needs starting as low as $24 USD a month.
Like all software, Grasshopper phone service isn't for anyone. If you go to the same office every day and work the same hours or same general schedule, you might not see the benefit of a virtual phone management system.
But, if you run a small business that you often run out of your house, or you work with a distributed team and don't have a physical office for your business, this kind of software is a no brainer.
Grasshopper allows you to have a real business phone number that does not in any way interfere with your personal number. You can get a toll free number if you manage customers from all over the country and/or world. Or, if your business serves a particular geographic location, you can get a local number while working in a completely different location.
Your business phone system can and will operate just like a fancy and expensive physical office phone solution, but it will do so without any fancy equipment and at a fraction of the cost. Plus, you get options like voicemail, being able to receive faxes right on your phone, and some plans include SMS messaging. Your office phone does't do that.
One of the best features about the grasshopper software is its simplicity. It's very easy to set up an account and get started. It's almost easier to get it running and start taking calls.
The basic flow is that you sign up for a new account here. You can choose one of three options. They are pretty self explanatory and the one you choose basically depends on how many phone numbers and extensions you need.
After selecting a plan, you get to choose a new phone number. You can pick a tool free number or a local number. Local numbers are available for most of the USA and Canada.
After that, you set up install the software on your phone, set up your extension, and set up your main greeting.
You can literally have it all set up in under 10 minutes.
Beside being extremely easy to set up, it's also very reasonably priced and reliable. As long as your smartphone has a data connection, you have a business phone in your pocket.
What Needs Work
It's not often in the world of software where it's difficult to find a problem. There are always bugs and small design flaws that can be improved. But, it's really hard to find a flaw with Grasshopper.
One part of the process that can be a bit annoying is that due to the nature of the beast, there appears to be a decent amount of phone number churn. While that should not really affect the end users, you will sometimes receive calls from people looking for the old user or business that previously used your new number.
It can happen more in the first month of setting up a new number, and it tends to taper off over time, but it seems like it's an unavoidable annoyance, no matter how minor.
It's also not a videoconferencing app, so if that's something you absolutely need, it might not be the all-in-solution you're looking for.
Grasshopper vs RingCentral
Grasshopper is not alone in the world of virtual phone solutions. Another popular option is RingCentral.
RingCentral markets itself as a cloud phone system, which is a very accurate description. Must like Grasshopper, you don't need any fancy or expensive office telecommunications equipment. RingCentral is more than just a phone number, it's more like a video conferencing app you can run on your desktop or smartphone like Skype.
RingCentral is decent software, but the system is designed for more heavy users than is Grasshopper's system. It's also a bit pricier up front as you need to pay annually as opposed to month-to-month, which is a little off-putting for many potential customers.
If you absolutely are positive you and your staff are going to be on the phone for multiple hours each day, and you have the budget to pay for a year at a time, RingCentral is a decent choice. But, if you are a lighter user that needs phone number forwarding service with a plan that scales as your business grows, Grasshopper is an excellent choice.
The Final Word
If you were on the fence before reading this Grasshopper phone system review, you should feel pretty comfortable with moving ahead and trying it out. The fact that it's extremely quick and easy to join and set up, and that you don't have to jump into a long contract make it a very low risk option.
For small business owners with distributed teams, or solo entrepreneurs and digital nomads running online businesses, there really isn't a reason to give it a try. Chances are you won't be disappointed.