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8x8 Virtual Office Review

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What makes 8x8 one of the best phone systems for small businesses is that it is hosted in the cloud and easy to use, has an assortment of valuable features, is affordably priced, and provides excellent customer support.

In addition to being one of the best phone systems for small businesses, 8x8 is one of our top contenders for the best cloud-hosted phone system, call center phone system, and phone system for businesses with multiple locations.

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The Basics

  • Best for: Small businesses, cloud, call centers and multiple locations
  • Phone service: VoIP
  • Hosting: Cloud
  • Costs: $19.99 to $31.99 per user per month
  • Support: Phone and email
  • Mobile app: iOS and Android devices

Easy to Use

8x8 is a cloud-based VoIP small business phone system that requires no equipment to be installed or maintained. Since the system runs on a data connection, all businesses have to do to use 8x8 is properly configure their routers and make sure they have the necessary bandwidth to handle the volume of calls they expect. With that, it's as simple as plugging phones in to an Ethernet port to start making and receiving calls. Unlike on-premises systems that require an IT staff to keep them up and running, 8x8 handles all of the maintenance and upgrades.

The entire system is controlled via an online portal. Those in charge can log in to the portal, which 8x8 refers to as the Account Manager, to assign employees telephone numbers and extensions, set up the automated attendant, and create ring groups. The portal has a clean interface and is simple to navigate. Its dashboard allows quick access to a call log summary, billing information, a link to the phone system setup page and a FAQs section that answers many questions users may have.

Employees can also access the portal for certain tasks. For example, they can use the softphone to make and receive calls on their computers, check voicemail messages, chat with co-workers over instant message, and view a company directory.

To ensure businesses get up and running smoothly, 8x8 provides one free hour of training from a technical installation specialist. More hands-on and on-site training is available for an extra cost.

Part of what makes 8x8 so appealing is that it is rarely down for service. The system has a 99.997% uptime, which is one of the highest uptimes we encountered during our research of cloud-hosted business phone systems. The uptime data means the system is only down for just a few minutes each year.

8x8 takes a number of precautions to keep its uptime so high. The company has nine top-tier data centers around the world, including two in the United States, that can automatically move data if one location shuts down for some reason. This ensures that users don't experience a disruption in service if the data center their information is stored in becomes disabled.

Features

8x8 has an impressive set of features. It offers all of the calling features and tools small businesses find most valuable. This includes automated attendants, music on hold, directory assistance, ring groups, call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID blocking, voicemail, voicemail-to-email and conference calling.

8x8 also puts a premium on collaboration. The system offers instant messaging, a presence feature that show employees who's available and who is busy, and the ability to host online meetings. A full list of features is available on the 8x8 website.

The system has a mobile app that allows employees to tap into their business phone lines from their smartphones. With the app, which is available on iOS and Android devices, employees can make and receive calls, video-chat with other employees, check their voicemail, see the status of co-workers, and view online faxes. A benefit of the mobile app is that it lets employees talk over a 4G or Wi-Fi connection to save cell phone minutes.

Additionally, the 8x8 system integrates with a number of programs many small businesses are already using, including Microsoft Outlook and Salesforce. These integrations allow employees to call contacts directly from those programs.


Call center services are also available via 8x8. Features in its call center plans include skills-based call routing, interactive voice response, queued callback, call recording, real-time monitoring and historical reporting.

Call center supervisors have access to their own set of tools, such as the ability to listen in and join calls and to view nearly 140 different reports to track historical performance. In addition, supervisors can view call queue information, interactions in progress, and agent statistics on their computers and smartphones.

For businesses with multiple locations, 8x8 offers a branch office feature that lets system administrators segment employee extensions based on their work locations. In addition, each location has its own unique employee directory, IVR script and presence management.

Service Plans

8x8 offers two main service plans for small businesses that differ in the number of included features and cost. The Virtual Office plan costs $21.99 per month per user for businesses with 5-9 employees or $19.99 per user per month for businesses with more than 10 employees.

The Virtual Office plan includes all of 8x8's features except web conferencing, call recording and online faxing. Those features are included in the Virtual Office Pro plan, which costs an additional $5 per extension per month for all users, or $10 per user per month if only some users need access to those tools.

Another charge businesses may incur is for toll-free numbers, which are paid for on a monthly basis. Costs range from $4.99 for 150 minutes to $359 per month for 20,000 minutes.

While this is not required, businesses can purchase IP phones directly from 8x8. They cost between $80 and $450 each.

Support

8x8 provides some of the best support we encountered during our research of business phone systems. When we contacted the company posing as a business owner, our call was immediately answered, and the representative we spoke with was extremely helpful. He answered all of our questions thoroughly and left us with a clear understanding of what the system offered and how it worked. The representative also provided the specifics on pricing that we were looking for.

The company's U.S.-based customer support is available via telephone and email between 5 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, and 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT on Saturdays. The company does offer around-the-clock customer support for issues that are deemed network critical.

To read reviews of other phone system providers, or simply learn more about business phone systems, check out our business phone systems buying guide.

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