The are several factors small businesses should focus on when looking for a phone system. Since many small businesses don't have a full-time IT staff to handle installation and maintenance, they should look for a business phone solution that doesn't require much setup or upkeep. That's why a cloud-hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system is a good fit. There is nothing to install, and the phone system provider handles all maintenance and upgrades. These types of systems all offer fixed monthly costs, so it's easy to budget for them.
Small businesses also want a phone system that has a lot of features but doesn't break the bank. Auto attendants, voicemail, voicemail-to-email, ring groups, mobile apps, collaboration tools and conference calling are all features small businesses want from their phone system.
With all of this in mind, 8x8 is the best phone system for small businesses. It is hosted in the cloud and easy to use, has many valuable features, is affordable and reliable, and provides excellent customer support. 8x8 also offers contact center services and supports businesses with multiple locations.
In addition to all of its phone functionality, 8x8 includes a robust video conferencing service that all users can access. Each user can host a video conference with up to 100 people at a time. This is an excellent unified communication system that is well suited for small businesses, especially those looking for a VoIP phone system, with all the accessories they could want.
View all our recommendations for business phone systems on our best picks page.
8x8 offers four small business service plans that differ in the included features and prices. However, all 8x8 plans include unlimited calling; text messaging; instant messaging; an auto attendant; voicemail; single sign-on; call recording; mobile and desktop apps; access to call analytics; call queues; HD voice; and integration with G Suite, Outlook, Salesforce, Zendesk, and NetSuite CRM. In addition, each plan includes audio and video conferencing that allows for meetings with up to 100 people at a time.
Here's a breakdown of the plans:
- The X2 edition is $28 per user, per month. This plan has a 14-country unlimited calling zone and 1GB of media storage.
- The X3 edition is $38 per user, per month. It includes a 32-country unlimited calling zone, 5GB of media storage and an operator switchboard.
- The X5 edition is $60 per user, per month. It includes a 47-country unlimited calling zone and 10GB of media storage. In addition to everything in the X3 edition, it offers an IVR, queued and web callback and contact center analytics.
- The X8 edition is $115 per user, per month. It includes a 47-country unlimited calling zone, 10GB of media storage and 4,000 contact center calling minutes. It also allows for post-call surveys and customer experience analytics.
Customers sign at least a 12-month contract. However, fees are paid monthly, not annually.
Ease of Use
8x8 is a cloud-hosted VoIP phone system that doesn't require any special equipment or wiring. Since the system runs on a data connection, all businesses have to do to use 8x8 is properly configure their routers and ensure they have the necessary bandwidth to handle the volume of calls they expect. With that, it's as simple as plugging phones into an Ethernet port to start making and receiving calls.
A benefit of a cloud-based system is that you aren't responsible for any of the system's maintenance or upgrades. 8x8 handles all of that for you.
For established businesses, 8x8 allows you to bring your current phone number with you for no additional cost. This process typically takes at least eight days for a local number and up to five weeks for a toll-free number.
The entire system is controlled via an online portal. Those in charge can log in to the portal (which 8x8 refers to as the Configuration Manager) to assign employee telephone numbers and extensions, set up the automated attendant, and create ring groups. All of this can be completed on a self-service basis and doesn't require the assistance of an IT team.
Administrators aren't the only ones who can take advantage of the 8x8 online portal. Employees can log in to manage their phone features from anywhere. From the portal, they can access the softphone, check their voicemail, view a company directory, message other users, see which of their co-workers are free and which are busy, and conduct online meetings. There is also a desktop app that employees can download to access the system.
To get businesses up and running smoothly, 8x8 provides one free hour of training from a technical installation specialist. More hands-on and onsite training is available at an extra cost.
8x8 is an extremely reliable service. It has a 99.999 percent uptime, meaning the system is only down for a few minutes each year. In addition to its high uptime, 8x8 has 15 data centers around the world. This built-in redundancy allows the company to easily move data around should one of the centers go down. All of the data centers are SSAE 16 audited.
8x8 has an impressive set of features. It offers all of the calling, collaboration and mobile tools small businesses find most valuable. In total, the system has more than 50 standard features and more than 20 optional features.
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, chat with other employees, check their voicemail, see the status of co-workers, join and collaborate in online meetings, and view online faxes.
8x8 also offers powerful contact center services beyond what is available in the X8 service plan. The added features include skills-based routing, an online knowledgebase, CRM integration, historical and real-time reports, internal chat for agents and supervisors, monitoring, whisper and barge, standard IVR, queue and web callback, customer experience analytics, and post-call surveys.
Each user license includes video conferencing services. This gives all users the opportunity to host video meetings whenever they choose. 8x8's video conferencing services allow users to host meetings with up to 100 participants. What's nice is that all of those attending a meeting can be on camera at one time. Other video conferencing services we evaluated limit the number of video feeds that can be on during a video conference.
8x8's video conferencing system has a range of features, including both HD video and audio to ensure crystal-clear picture and sounds. One of the most useful tools is screen sharing. The meeting host can share their desktop with attendees, which is helpful when giving a presentation, highlighting information in a document or explaining how to use the software.
Other features in 8x8's video conferencing services are options to record meetings, integrated scheduling with Microsoft Outlook and Google Calendar, the ability to add co-hosts to a meeting, and team and private chat tools.
You can start or join an 8x8 video conference from a computer or mobile device. You can also add video conferencing equipment to a conference room to participate in meetings that way.
For those who can't join a meeting over video feed, dial-in numbers allow them to connect by phone. While they won't be able to see what is going on, they can still hear everything and join in the conversation.
All of 8x8's service plans include video conferencing. There is no additional cost for these services. You can find more information on these services on our video conferencing best picks page.
8x8 has conference calling service built into its phone system service. With the conference bridge feature, which is included at no extra charge, each employee can hold their own conference call with up to 15 callers.
If your company is looking to host conference calls with more than 15 callers, you will need to use a conference calling service. These services allow for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people on each call. You can find more information on these services on our conference call services best picks page.
8x8 provides some of the best customer support we encountered during our research of business phone systems. We contacted the company multiple times by phone and email, posing as a small business owner interested in phone systems. Our calls were all immediately answered, and the representatives we spoke with were extremely helpful. They answered our questions thoroughly and left us with a clear understanding of what the system offers and how it works. We never felt that they were pressuring us to make an immediate decision on the service; they always respected our timeline. Not all of the services we researched operated in that manner.
We followed up with some representatives over email. Each time, they quickly answered our messages with all the information we were looking for. They also always offered to host a call with us to discuss the issue in more detail or answer any other questions we had.
Customer support is available by phone, email, chat and the 8x8 website 24/7/365.
While 8x8 offers round-the-clock support, there are times when the representative you are speaking with may be in another country. This can be a problem if you need service at an irregular hour and can't get the level of support you expect. That being said, each of our interactions with the company, regardless of the time we reached out, was a positive one.
Additionally, the website features a number of valuable resources, including whitepapers, infographics, data sheets, videos and webinars.
Editor's note: Looking for a business phone system? Click the Compare Quotes button below to have our sister site BuyerZone connect you with vendors that can help.