The number of VoIP business lines has shot up by over 650% in the past ten years. As such, it is easy to see that new businesses are grasping on to easy-to-access voice communication. One of the latest entries into this field is Sideline, a business line provider.
But is it any good? If not, are there any Sideline alternatives? This article will go into the details of what Sideline can provide and, more importantly, what it cannot.
What Is Sideline and How It Works?
Sideline is a mobile app that allows you to sign up for a service to gain a secondary phone number. It allows a separation of your personal phone number and this secondary communications channel for any reason you might have.
The Pros of Sideline
Sideline markets itself as a business line with robust feature set.
Sideline itself was originally created from Pinger, a texting app not unlike what WhatsApp is used for today.
The app started as a free, advertisement-supported app which gained it a large number of free users. These users, however, dropped when Sideline became a paid app.
Subscriptions are available for Sideline in the app or by visiting their website.
The Drawbacks of Sideline
Even with its positive traits, Sideline fails to live up to several expectations. Below, we list some of how Sideline does not match up to its competitors.
Limited Call Forwarding
Without call forwarding, it is very difficult to use Sideline in a company that extends beyond yourself. While Sideline does allow call forwarding, it only lets you do so within Sideline itself. You are unable to call forward to another service or carrier.
This limitation means working with external services or third parties may falter. You will be unable to forward specific clients to these individuals.
With a lack of archiving or call recording, your company is unable to check over previous phone calls. As such, you are lost should a customer decide to make claims about promises you may not have made.
Many companies these days have the ability to archive calls. This is to assist them with these kinds of problems, and Sideline’s lack of such facilities is a step backward.
No PIN locking
With security as a priority for many people, you would expect that PIN locking Sideline would be an important feature. Sideline, however, does not have the ability to lock your account in this manner.
This means that anybody who can access your phone can answer Sideline calls or change your settings. This is very dangerous for anyone dealing with secure clients.
No HIPAA or HITECH Compliances
If you are in healthcare or legal business, you are out of luck at Sideline. It doesn't provide basic HIPAA compliances or secure texting.
While it is not a common trait, it is disappointing to see that Sideline is not available outside of the United States. Various other secondary phone systems allow for usage outside of the United States mainland, but not Sideline.
Also, should you wish to make calls to international numbers, it will cost an additional $14.99 per month with an Enterprise plan. This means you would be paying a total of $24.98 per month.
If you look at any set of user reviews for Sideline on the Internet you will come across a repeated complaint. It seems that support for issues on Sideline is somewhat lacking, with many complaints of it taking over three days to respond to a concern. In the business world, that is a significant amount of time.
Sideline Alternatives for Small Businesses
If you are a small business, you need assurances that every phone call receives a timely response. You also need the ability to review and retrospect on previous phone calls or those of your colleagues.
Finally, if there are setup problems for a new business you need to know they resolve themselves fast. Long, multi-day email chains are not what you are looking for. You should be ready and raring to go, with an easily-set-up phone system.
Sideline Alternatives for Startups
As startups grow, they need a high-tech solution that can scale to multiple individuals in a team. Your first purchases should happen with a small team in mind and then grow in step with how you scale your company.
Also, you should be able to set up your team to each have individual numbers. This allows you to create teams of individuals rather than one large company account.
Examples of Sideline Alternatives
Sideline allows you to make a second phone number in short order. It even allows you to have a short trial to give it a go without a subscription. Unfortunately, the lack of control over teams and limited call forwarding leaves the system wanting.
Instead, here is what you should be looking for in a competitor to Sideline:
You should feel assured that any system you decide to use does not store the data of yourself or your clients. Not only is this important for the data of you and your clients, but also allows you to be GDPR compliant should you work with European agencies.
If you are working in the health industry then you have obligations to ensure the phone service you use is compliant with various rigors. This includes the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA). Making sure you do not breach this will protect your business from lawsuits and is also designed to protect your patients.
Auto Text Reply
You will want to make sure you maintain good communications with your clients. This includes simple sending an automated message when you are out of the office or on-call. This allows your customers to know they are a priority, even if you are unable to communicate with them at that specific time.
Auto Attendant (IVR) With Virtual Extensions
As your company grows, you will need automated transfer to different departments or employees. A system that informs clients of pertinent information before they talk to your employees will assist you by saving everybody’s time. This is the purview of an IVR system, or “call handler”.
As your company grows, you can add more options to an IVR system. For example, “Press 1 for more information, 2 to speak to us about your account”, etc. So you can have assurance it will scale as you do.
If you worry about your ability to track your employees’ work, call recording should be an important aspect of your process. This will not only help you in the present but also in the future. For example, if a customer ever calls in with a complaint about an interaction with one of your employees.
Depending on location, you may wish to look into messages which legally cover you when call recording. Most inform the caller that the call is being recorded, but it is important to consult about what would cover you.
If you do not wish to listen to voicemails, transcriptions can be a very simple and fast workaround. If your voicemails appear as direct text, you can glance over any incoming communication. You can then prioritize it without needing to listen through the whole set of messages.
Best Sideline Alternative: iPlum
After reviewing Sideline, you now can move forward with knowledge of what you need. For the reasons we have listed, we recommend the use of iPlum as your secondary phone line service.
Protection of Data
As iPlum focuses on data protection, they are well-known for respecting the privacy of those who work with them. Third parties will not have access to the information on both the businesses who use their services as well as those business’ clients. This peace of mind lets you focus on your company’s USPs instead.
Dual Voice Network Mode
You do not need to rely on the Internet to make phone calls and can use your existing carrier voice network instead. Because of this, you can have the assurance of constant uptime. For similar reasons, you can always be sure that calls made using iPlum are clear and crisp no matter where you make the call.
HIPAA and Legal Compliance
iPlum provides a Business Associate Agreement (BAA). This lets you conform to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This way, you can be sure you do not need to worry about issues from not following legal requirements.
Every iPlum number has its own BAA, so will be a HIPAA compliant phone number. You can review it and feel safe knowing you are following the legislation.
Auto Attendant (IVR) with Virtual Extensions
Not only can iPlum provide you with a voice system that can play a greeting to your callers, but it also allows for a wide amount of customization. A simple interface allows you to set custom greetings and menus. It can also incorporate text-to-speech to save you from the cumbersome nature of manually recording each message.
Auto Text Reply
You can set messages to send automatically to individuals who text your company number. This way, when you receive text messages from clients, you can be sure their issue receives a temporary response until you get to them.
iPlum can record all phone calls which come into your site. Not only this, but it can also inform your clients of the recorded nature of the call. This will fulfill legal obligations depending on your site location.
Works in Both Domestic and International Settings
If you are overseas, you want assurance you are not out of contact. iPlum works in any of these locations, letting you stay in contact with your clients and customers as need be no matter where you are.
No Need to Change Carriers
iPlum allows you to sync its service with your existing phone carrier. This prevents you from needing two separate phones and can let you resolve all the issues with your current hardware.
The price for an iPlum account starts at $4.99 per month. This is half the price of Sideline’s $9.99 per month service.
How to Transfer and Port Your Number From Sideline
You should be aware, first, that porting out your number from Sideline will charge you $19.99.
To port your number, first go to your Sideline Settings section in the app and tap “Support” under the General settings.
Then, you must tap “Port-Out Number” and then “Port Out”. You will then see your account number and PIN which you can provide to your new carrier.
If we have tantalized you with Sideline alternatives such as iPlum, give us a call and find out what we can offer you. We will answer any questions you have about the process and get you on the road to better communications in no time.