After conducting extensive research and analysis, we recommend 8x8 as our 2018 pick for the best phone system for small businesses. 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.
From built-in redundancies to multiple data centers and call carriers, 8x8 takes a number of steps to ensure the system is always up and running.
Uptime: Few business phone systems are more reliable than 8x8. It has one of the highest documented uptimes – 99.999 percent – of all the cloud-based VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) systems we investigated. This means that the system is down for only a handful of minutes each year.
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Data centers: 8x8 has 15 identical data centers around the world that provide automatic and transparent failover to prevent disruptions in service. If one of the data centers crashes, all of the information instantly transfers to one of the other locations to keep the service up and running.
Call carriers: The company also works with a number of 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.
8x8 offers three different service plans – X2, X5 and X8 – which vary in features and price.
X2: The X2 edition costs $25 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, voicemail, and audio and video conferencing for up to five participants.
X5: The X5 edition costs $35 per user, per month. It includes everything in the X2 plan, and in addition, the unlimited calling zone is for 32 countries, there is 5GB of media storage, and 25 users can participate in the audio and video conferencing. This plan also includes call recording and an operator switchboard.
X8: The X8 edition costs $55 per user, per month. It includes all of the calling features in the X5 plan, a 46-country unlimited calling zone, 10GB of media storage, and audio and video conferencing for up to 50 participants. It also offers some contact center tools.
8x8 phone systems include just about every calling and integration feature available.
Calling: Overall, the system has more than 40 standard features, including three-way calling, call forwarding, conference calling, call waiting and call transferring. You can also view and listen to your voicemails online, or have them delivered to your email inbox.
Mobility: The 8x8 mobile app, available on iOS and Android devices, lets you make and receive calls from your business line, check voicemail, record calls, make video calls, instant message with co-workers, and send and receive online faxes.
Collaboration: The system offers a variety of tools that facilitate working with others. 8x8's systems include an online chat system, as well as a presence feature that shows who is available and who is busy. All of the service plans include both audio and video conferencing.
Call center: For businesses that need call center capabilities, 8x8's X8 edition includes some contact center features, including Salesforce analytics, call quality reporting and analytics, call-recording storage, and a visual IVR. For those who need full contact center services, 8x8 offers three different plans that include skills-based routing, IVR, queued callback and real-time monitoring.
Integrations: 8x8 integrates with a wide variety of other programs, including Salesforce, Zendesk and NetSuite CRM.
Ease of use: Since 8x8 is a cloud-based system, it doesn't require any complex PBX hardware; all it needs is high-speed internet access and IP phones. Once your network is configured with the required bandwidth and the 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.
Online portal: The entire system can be managed via an online portal. This is where you create and set up employee extensions, personalize the auto-attendant, and create ring groups. The portal also allows you to manage billing, run call-log reports and get help if needed.
Customer service: 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 of the representatives we spoke to answered our calls promptly and gave us clear, detailed answers to our questions. At no point were any of them pushy, and none tried to give us a hard sell of their service. 8x8 offers customer support 24/7.
While we were pleased that 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.
Another potential downside is that 8x8 recently raised some of its pricing. Previously, it only had a two-tiered pricing plan, which ranged from $19.99 to $29.99 per user, per month.
Ready to choose a business phone system? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:
- Business Phone System Buyer's Guide
- The Best Business Phone Systems 2018
- Best Business Phone Service
- Best for Small Offices
- Best Virtual Phone System
- Best for Call Centers
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.