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8x8 Review

Best Small Business Phone System

A Business News Daily Review

Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.

For small businesses, a reliable phone system that can handle all of their calling and collaboration needs is of the utmost importance. That's why, after conducting extensive research and analysis, 8x8 is our 2019 pick for the best phone system for small businesses.

Small businesses need to consider multiple factors when trying to find a phone system. The biggest one is reliability. It is imperative that your phone system works every time an employee picks up the phone to make a call. If your phone system is down for even an hour, it could have a significant impact on your bottom line.

8x8 definitely fits the bill. It has one of the highest reported uptimes in the industry, redundant data centers worldwide and sophisticated architecture to ensure service is always up and running.

Another important aspect that small businesses want in a phone system is a robust feature set. Key calling features like automated attendants, ring groups, mobile apps, and voicemail-to-email, along with collaboration tools such as conference calling, video conferencing, and instant messaging is a way to present a professional appearance to both customers and employees.

8x8 is a reliable cloud-based unified communications system that is easy to use and packed with valuable calling, collaboration, and mobile features and tools. The system has dozens of calling features, as well as built-in conference calling and video conferencing services that give all users the tools to communicate with others in any way they choose.

When choosing a phone solution, small businesses should also be looking for a system that has low rates, valuable integrations and excellent customer support. 8x8 offers excellent customer support and a mobile app that allows you to tap into your business phone line from anywhere. The service costs $24 to $115 per user per month, depending on how many employees you have and how many features you need.

To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of business phone systems on our best picks page

Editor's note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need. 

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8x8offers four different small business service plans – X2, X3, X5 and X6 – which vary in features and price. All of the plans include online faxing, text messaging, single sign-on, HD voice, call recording, mobile and desktop apps, and some call analytics. In addition, each plan gives users the ability to host audio-video conferences with up to 100 people at a time.

  • X2: The X2 edition costs $85 per user per month. It includes, among other things, all standard calling features, unlimited calling in 14 countries, 1GB of media storage, mobile and desktop apps, instant messaging, presence indicators, voicemail, call queuing, and audio and video conferencing for up to five participants.
  • X3: The X3 edition costs $38 per user per month. It includes every feature in the X2 plan. In addition, the unlimited calling zone is for 32 countries, and there is 5GB of media storage. This plan also includes an operator switchboard.
  • X5: The X5 edition costs $60 per user per month. It includes every feature in the X3 plan, plus an unlimited calling zone for 47 countries and 10GB of media storage. This plan also includes IVR, queued and web callback, and some contact center services.
  • X6: The X6 edition costs $115 per user per month. It includes all the calling features in the X5 plan, as well as 4,000 minutes of contact center calling. It also features customer experience analytics, post-call surveys and the 8x8 Expert Connect tool.

Rates for each plan are a few dollars cheaper for businesses with more than 100 users. Complete contact center services are also available. 8x8 offers them in four service plans that range from $60 to $175 per user per month.

8x8 is a cloud-hosted VoIP business phone system, so it doesn't require any complex PBX hardware. All you need is high-speed internet access and IP phones. 

Once your network is configured to have the required bandwidth (8x8 recommends 100 kbps for each concurrent call) and voice traffic is prioritized over other online uses, the system is ready to use as soon as you plug the phones into an Ethernet port.

If you buy your IP phones directly from 8x8, they come preconfigured and ready to use. If you purchase phones from an outside vendor, you will need to work with an 8x8 representative to configure them. You will have the same functionality with either option; however, you will save time getting everything up and running if you purchase the phones directly from 8x8.

As an added benefit, 8x8 provides a technical installation specialist to walk you through the configuration steps in a free one-hour session. Even though the system is easy to use, this extra instruction can be extremely valuable for small businesses that don't have an IT staff to handle their technical needs.

Once the phones are up and running, the entire system can be set up and managed via the online portal. Here, you can do things such as create and set up employee extensions and ring groups. The portal, which you access through the 8x8 website, also allows you to manage billing, run call-log reports and get help if needed. 

Administrators can also manage the automated attendant directly from the portal. They can upload their own greetings or customized pre-recorded messages. 8x8 also offers an audio production store for professionally recorded options.

Employees have access to the online portal through a desktop application or mobile app or by logging in on any computer connected to the internet. Accessing the system allows employees to use a softphone on their computer to make and receive calls, review the company directory, check their voicemail, and message co-workers. They can also use the portal to make video calls, send and receive online faxes, and conduct web conferences.

Some of the other tools users have access to are three-way calling, call forwarding, call waiting and call transferring. You can also view and listen to your voicemails online or have them delivered to your email inbox. Other calling features include automated attendants, ring groups, music on hold, extension dialing, company directories, caller ID, caller ID blocking and a "do not disturb" option.

Additionally, 8x8 offers a variety of tools that facilitate collaboration, including an online chat system and a presence feature that shows who is available and who is busy. All service plans include both audio and video conferencing. With 8x8's conference bridge, each employee can host their own conference calls with up to 50 participants. The online meetings allow employees to have "face-to-face" meetings with up to 100 people at a time from their computers.

Part of what makes 8x8 so appealing is its reliability. 8x8 takes several steps to ensure the system is always up and running, including built-in redundancies and multiple data centers and call carriers. It has one of the highest documented uptimes (99.9999 percent) of all the cloud-hosted VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems we investigated. This means the system is down for only a few minutes each year.

To help ensure the system is always up and running, 8x8 has 15 identical data centers around the world that provide automatic and transparent failover to prevent disruptions in service. Each data center is SSAE 16 audited. If one of the data centers crashes, all the information instantly transfers to one of the other locations to keep the service up.

The company also works with call carriers to guarantee high call quality at all times. Before each call, the system selects the path of least resistance. Should a carrier go down, the traffic is automatically redirected to one of the other carriers to ensure call continuity.

While 8x8 offers customer support around the clock, a representative we spoke to said it is not 100 percent based in the U.S. The rep said there are times when you may be asked to speak to a support technician overseas.

Overall, 8x8 offered some of the best customer service we received during our analysis of business phone systems. To gauge the level of support it offers, we called the company numerous times, posing as a new business owner interested in phone systems.

All the representatives we spoke with answered our calls promptly and gave clear, detailed answers to our questions. At no point were any of them pushy, and none tried to give us a hard sell of the service.

We also received follow-up emails from the representatives. Anytime we sent them a question, they always responded promptly with an answer and the offer to jump on another call for more details.

8x8 offers customer support 24/7, and it also has a host of valuable resources online. Its website includes a knowledgebase with detailed information on how to set up and use the system.

Ready to choose a business phone system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Editor's note: Looking for information on business phone systems? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need. 

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer with more than 20 years of media experience. A graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff as a senior writer. Currently, Chad covers a wide range of B2B products and services, including business phone systems, time and attendance systems, payroll services, and conference call services. Before joining Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago. Chad's first book, "How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business," was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.