Inevitably, the more sophisticated the communications system, the more complex the setup process and yet getting started with the small business system is still surprisingly straightforward. Indeed, even someone with no technical experience can get started in under half an hour. Again, you basically just need to plug your base unit into a router using the Ethernet cable provided. If your device needs a software upgrade, it will happen automatically the first time you plug it in, but once the system status indicator lights up blue, you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
At the enterprise level, Ooma prides itself on offering tailor-made systems so the first step in the installation process will always be a 30-minute consultation to establish the company’s needs. This initial discussion can either take place telephonically or using Ooma’s live chat service.
Whether you’re looking for a VoIP service for your home or your business, Ooma’s setup process is simple and consistent across all levels of service. To get started, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:
- Activate your device online
- Plug your device into your router using the To Internet port and the ethernet cable provided
- Connect the Base Station and plug it into a power source
- Wait for the system indicator light to turn blue
Inevitably, configuring the system requirements at the enterprise level is going to require a little more work, just as setting up an entire home security system will. Ooma introduced the Express Setup Assistant to make the process simpler and to help create new users, organize company call flow, and choose additional tools and add-on services. Additionally, Ooma has customer representatives and online support on hand to iron out any wrinkles in the setup process.
Ease of Use
For more complex functions, however, the online portal offers the most streamlined approach, while home users may find the online lounge the best place to hang out and get the most out their VoIP. While relaxing in the online lounge, users can manage their messages, add funds to make international calls, update the service, video tutorials, and check their bills. Enterprise users can access the online Office Manager to perform similar functions and although the interface is a little sparse, it’s easy enough to navigate using the tabs across the top of the screen.
Although both users and administrators can access the online Ooma Office portal, only those with administrator status can manage users and devices and perform other configuration processes. From managing phone number allocation to how the virtual receptionist operates, the online portal makes each process simple and guides users through one step at a time.
End-users can access the online portal to make changes to their personal settings, including accessing voicemail messages and checking call logs. Apps are also available that are compatible with both iOS and Android devices so your employees can make calls from their smartphone using the business line allocated to them. In this way, Ooma ensures the customer sees a familiar caller ID not the employee’s personal number.
The only real restriction in terms of using Ooma is that you won’t be able to add SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) devices that haven’t been specifically configured for Ooma.
Using Ooma is even simpler than setting the service up and configuring it to meet your specific needs. Video tutorials are also available online and will guide you through each process, saving you time and leveling out the learning curve.
Having said that, you couldn’t accuse Ooma Enterprise of taking a bare-bones approach to business communications and it offers many of the standard features one would expect. These include popular business VoIP features such as call forwarding, virtual receptionist, conference lines, and call recording.
The tools that other VoIP services do offer but aren’t included in Ooma’s enterprise kit include intelligent call screening and video conferencing capabilities, neither of which are essential nor, in many instances, will they be missed. What you will get, however, is a reliable and practical VoIP service that includes the following features:
- Number porting
- Virtual fax
- Ring Groups
- Extension Monitoring
- Call Blocking
- Call Park
- Call Flip
- 7-Digit Dial
- Last call return
- Caller-ID blocking
Even the most basic residential package, which is completely free after the initial outlay required to purchase the Ooma device, gives users a surprising number of features, including:
- Free calls within the US
- Low-cost international calls
- 911 calls and 911 call alerts
- Answer machine functionality
- Online call log
- Router firewall
- Free mobile app
Optional extras like the Ooma Wireless Adapter and Ooma Bluetooth Adapter can enhance the service even further.
While Ooma doesn’t have quite the full range of features offered by other VoIP services, it does include the most popular and well-used tools around. Optional extras can always be added on but, overall, Ooma provides reliable yet simple communications solutions that don’t require you to pay for tools you’ll only use once in a blue moon.
Nevertheless, adding additional extensions and lines is easily done via the online portal and Ooma has several features that can even be scaled up without any additional financial implications. A recent upgrade of Ooma’s enterprise platform has made it more scalable than ever, introducing features such as intercom and extension monitoring to increase its capacity as a larger enterprise solution.
While some companies allow businesses to add as many users as they need, Ooma tops out at 20 employees so if you anticipate your company growing beyond that ceiling, Ooma may not be the best choice. Similarly, with Ooma, you will need to invest in new hardware every time you want to add a new device, making its scalability more financially prohibitive that some of its rivals.
Overall, Ooma has enough scalability to cover the needs of most small to medium-sized businesses but isn’t as simple nor as affordable as some other VoIP systems.
Calls throughout the US are completely free, but users will have the unpleasant surprise of having to pay taxes each month. These are essential for any telecommunications system that wants to be overboard and legal. The costs are minimal, and the combined outlay required to cover the following fees and taxes rarely exceeds around $3.50 per month:
- Regulatory Compliance Fee
- 911 Service Fee
- Federal Universal Service Charge (U.S. customers only)
- State or province and local taxes, fees and surcharges
Another perk when it comes to Ooma’s pricing is that each new free user gets a two-month free trial of the premier service. Priced at $9.99 per month, the premier service offers good value for money, although it’s important to remember that you’ll still have to shell out the extra fees for your taxes each month so your monthly outlay will be closer to $14 per month.
On the business end of the scale, Ooma’s most expensive option is undoubtedly a tailormade enterprise system but to get the exact prices for that, you’ll need to submit information about the size and specific needs of your company. The small business option costs $19.99 per month and includes a local phone number, a user extension, and unlimited calls within the US and to neighboring countries like Canada, Puerto Rico, and Mexico.
Overall, Ooma offers low-cost solutions at all levels but, unfortunately, tarnishes this shiny offering rather by charging additional fees for various features. For example, a toll-free calling plan giving you 1,500 minutes of talk time will set you back $15 per month while a second local phone number will cost a further $10 per month.
The charges for additional features and functionality seem rather steep compared to the basic monthly subscription fees but can be beneficial. Those users who don’t require that extra functionality aren’t paying for it unnecessarily which is great, but those who do need a little more oomph in their VoIP system may want to look elsewhere for a cost-effective solution.
The online support section is useful, but it could do with a bit of an overhaul simply to make it easier to navigate. The FAQ section, in particular, could do with some attention – after all, how many people find a list of questions appealing, especially if no thought has been given to layout? The manuals and video tutorials pages are both inviting and easy to find your way around, so it seems strange Ooma didn’t choose to roll out a similar design for its FAQ section.
A much easier way of accessing FAQs is via Ooma’s troubleshooting section. Here, Ooma has been so kind as to organize its answers according to subject, making it far easier to find the answer you’re looking than it is scrolling down an endless list of FAQs.
Additional online resources include a community forum and an internet speed test. The forum is surprisingly informative and up to date which makes a nice change and you don’t even need to be a registered user to gain access. The internet speed test is a bit of an enigma. Yes, we understand that you need a high-speed internet connection to use Ooma, but having your own internet speed test seems superfluous, especially given how many free speed tests are available online already.
For those who prefer to speak to a customer support representative or who simply can’t find the solution they’re after online, there are a few options available. If you have an Ooma account, you can make use of its 24/7 live chat support option, alternatively, you can contact a customer support representative telephonically throughout both the working week and the weekend.
The range of options, the efficiency of its setup wizard, and the detail included in its user manuals and video tutorial all combine to make Ooma’s support system effective and reliable. Compared to other VoIP services, Ooma has gone the extra mile in accommodating its users and ensuring they have the knowledge they need to make the most of their telecommunications system.
Ooma focuses on tailor-made solutions for small to medium businesses rather than taking the one-size-fits-all approach. Users requiring a single communications system without any extra bells and whistles will appreciate the simplicity of Ooma’s solutions but those wanting everything from voice conferencing to video calling may find its enterprise solutions a little limited.
Ooma is simple enough to use and can be easily customized using the online portal. While a few tweaks to the design and layout of some sections of its site would improve the user experience, overall it’s pretty straightforward and self-explanatory.
While comparatively limited in terms of features, Ooma nevertheless offers the most popular and frequently used VoIP tools, including cross-platform mobile apps, call flipping, and extension monitoring. Ooma focuses on reliability over and above everything else, and its decision not to include infrequently used tools makes it more streamlined and easier to operate.
Whether you’re a home user looking for a reliable VoIP service or a business owner looking for a communications system that can be as flexible as your service delivery, Ooma has cost-effective solutions that won’t clutter up your virtual workspace with unwanted tools. Ooma is by no means perfect and would benefit from addressing its hidden costs and finding a way to improve scalability. Overall, however, Ooma is a strong competitor that provides a reliable system and appears to prioritize its users’ needs above the desire to simply outdo the opposition.