8×8 have been around a long time, almost twenty years in the VoIP business so have built up a lot of experience and a large customer base. They have evolved from a VoIP service company to a cloud -based provider of IP PBX capabilities and features for the SMB market. During this time they will have learned what works and what doesn’t with regards pricing, plans and feature sets, so let’s take a look at their business plans for their cloud based virtual phone systems and how they compare with the competition.
8×8 Products: Virtual Office and Contact Center
Previously, 8×8 separated their Virtual PBX services into three groups, Virtual Office and Virtual Office Pro and Contact Center. This approach meant that specialist contact center features where off-limits to most small businesses as they would have required subscribing to the contact center product as well as the virtual PBX service. However, several of 8×8 key competitors where integrating call center features into their small business services at no extra charge, which made 8×8 less appealing. With this in mind 8×8 now integrates all their services into a single All-In-One product and differentiates on price and service plans.
Consequently 8×8 has created a fully hosted PBX with all the advanced features available in every 8×8 phone system, under a single unified solution for all.
8×8 VoIP Services: Pricing, Plans and Costs
Previously 8×8 had two business phone service plans; Virtual Office and Virtual Office Pro. The difference being that Office Pro has some additional features such as video web conferencing, internet faxing and call recording in addition to an impressive array of call features. Both Office and Office Pro options are now unified under the X-Series Communication Software and they are supported by a choice of one of four VoIP service plans:
The business plans are very similar with regards basic PBX features. Therefore, let’s have a look at the features that are common to all X Series plans.
- Auto Attendant – this is an essential feature for ensuring all calls are answered and redirected to an extension or to voice mail this is the feature that projects a ‘big company’ image
- Mobile Apps – an essential modern feature for a business PBX system. Mobile apps enable the handling of calls for employees who are out of the office and working from their personal mobile phones. This feature integrates the BYOD phones into the virtual phone system so that employees can make and receive calls as if from a company desk phone.
- HD Audio and Video Meetings with Screen Sharing – support audio conference calls as standard options there is also support for HD video conference calling.
- Softphone – 8×8 provides Softphone applications that can be loaded onto laptops and desktop PC’s
- Voicemail-to-Email Notification – sends alerts to email that a voicemail is awaiting your attention.
- Team Messaging/ SMS Texting – supports chat, business SMS, which tracks all, send, receive text messages to contacts, and provides presence detection.
- Ring Groups/Hunting – this feature allows extensions in a department to be grouped together and incoming calls are send to any free extension defined by a policy, such as round robin, or least busy.
- Call Park – this is another call center feature that allows you to park a call whilst you handle another.
- Web Click to Dial – this is a handy feature to add to the company website that allows a customer to call you with one click on the screen icon.
- Business Application Integration – these connectors allow integration with many business applications such as Salesforce, Netsuite, and Zendesk.
- Online Administration – this is an easy to access web portal for administration of the Office and Office Pro systems. The company’s own system administrator, to setup and manage extensions and features, accesses the web portal. There is also another feature Office Online that permits users to access and configure their own extensions/voicemail.
- Caller ID – allows you to identify who is calling before you answer the call this works in conjunction with call forwarding and blocking
- Direct Phone Number – this feature provides a direct dial (DID) telephone number for each extension so that it can be accessed directly. What is more you can choose your extension number from any area code you wish, it does not necessarily have to be where you are located.
- Voicemail to Email – this is another standard feature whereby voicemail is sent as MP3 files to an email account of your choosing.
X Series X2 Additional Features
- Voicemail Transcription
- Single Sign On, Okta & CRM/Service Integration
- Call Recordings
- Unlimited Internet Fax
- Cross-Platform Team Messaging
Mix and Matching of Editions all the features of the 8×8 Express plan it comes with a few additions:
- Voicemail Transcription
- Single Sign On, Okta & CRM/Service Integration
- Call Recordings
- Unlimited Internet Fax
- Cross-Platform Team Messaging
X Series X4 Additional Features
The X4 service plan comes with only two additional features:
- The Operator Switchboard
- Analytics & Call Quality Reporting
X Series X6 Additional Features
Being the flagship service plan X6 has all the standard features of its siblings but also has some very important additional features such as:
- Skills-Based Routing
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- Queued & Web Callback
- Post Call Survey
- Native CRM & Knowledgebase
- Contact Center Reporting & Analytics
In addition to the basic voice PBX features every small business needs the All–in-One X Series solution provides many advanced call center features not normally present in small business PBX solutions, such as:
- Skills based routing – set the call routing policy by assigning extensions to areas of expertise
- IVR – configure a welcome for the auto attendant and menus for the auto receptionist
- Audio Production – construct and record your welcome messages and IVR menus
- Virtual Queue – lets the caller leave a number for call back which prevents long queuing
- Digital Agent Routing – this feature allows an agent to provide a caller with a direct call back number to ensure they are connected to the same agent dealing with their issue when they call back, this can close sales or issue tickets quickly.
- Desktop Sharing – this is one of the valuable collaboration tools that allows an agent to share out their desktop for a presentation or to take control of a desktop for configuration.
- Multi-Chanel Support – provides for telephony, email, chat and web calling
- CRM Integration – this is an essential feature for any virtual contact center as it allows integrating between the Caller ID and the CRM caller records. What this means is that upon detecting the Caller ID on an incoming phone the system can send a request to the CRM for that Caller’s records and history. These will open automatically on the agents screen enabling the agent to address the caller personally and have their call history or case history to hand. This is a great feature lacking in most of the other competitors cloud PBXs.
- Reporting and Monitoring – In addition to historical call reporting 8×8 provides real time monitoring which is another essential contact center management feature non-existent in the competitors’ offerings. This real time monitoring facilitates using wallboards to monitor current status of agents and call queues. This is a great feature as it permits a contact center administrator, especially if it is a distributed one with agents working from home, to manage the call queues, agent performance and to track the operational KPI’s in real time. This feature is a big plus for 8×8 if you are considering a virtual contact center solution.
- Workforce Optimization – another great feature rarely present in the competitions contact center editions. These features allow an administrator to track agent performance in real time in addition to providing powerful forecasting, scheduling and reporting capabilities.
Mobile App – Review
An integral part of the 8×8 Virtual Office is the mobile and desktop apps, which allows you to connect to the 8×8 Communications Cloud from anywhere you have internet access. This is an important aspect of the mobile and desktop apps is that you have full feature access just like any other phone extension on the 8×8 cloud communication system. This allows you to conduct your business just as if you were at your office desk from anywhere. Having remote access to the 8x8x system means you can access personal and business contacts from your phone. laptop or tablet. Moreover you can improve your business collaboration using team messaging and improve productivity through remote working and online meetings.
Mobile App for iPhone
A significant factor when contemplating 8×8 mobile apps is that presently it is available on the IOS for the Apple iPhone as well as Android based mobile phones. There is currently no mobile app for other OS such as Windows mobile or Blackberry. So bear that in mind you will need to have an Apple iPhone or an Android smartphone for it to work.
Getting started on iPhone and Android
If working solely on an iPhone or Android phone is not a significant drawback then getting started with the mobile apple is very easy.
- First of all you have to download the 8×8 Virtual Office app from the Apple Store or Google Play stores to your device
- Enter your 8×8 login and password to activate the app.
- Start making and receiving calls!
The great thing about the 8×8 mobile app is it provides true mobility so that you can work from anywhere and still have access to all the Virtual Office features and capabilities. More, you can also;
- Cut the cost of doing business by making calls using your smartphone app by using your 8×8 calling plan, this way you will save on long distance and international calls.
- Save on call minutes—you can seamlessly switch between 4G, cellular calling plan or Wi-Fi.
- Save on international roaming—Avoid data roaming charges when outside the US by using Wi-Fi hotspots instead of 4G roaming. Lass will be charged against your 8×8 calling plan, saving you a lot on international carrier roaming charges.
- You can use *88 to seamlessly and transparently switch from desk phone to iPhone or to softphone during a live call.
- Make calls remotely from your smartphone using your company directory or your own contact list.
- Make sure that you will not miss a call as it can be simultaneously forwarded to your mobile phone, PC or Mac and desk phone.
- Easily conduct 3-way calls.
- Put callers on Hold, Park, or you can forward them to other phone extensions.
- Have access to conference calling via the One-button conference bridge and auto-attendant.
- Customize your own call forwarding rules.
- You can also view voicemails as a list and then review and delete messages.
- Check presence of colleagues (busy, available, offline, Do-not-disturb)) and exchange instant messages with them.
- Create Virtual Office Meetings.
- Record calls
- view HD video
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Virtual Office is suited to any small medium business that are looking for a technically advanced cloud based telephone system.
Yes the 8x8 VirtualOffice is designed to fit the needs for companies that require high-tech support features such as contact centres.
Yes. Virtual Office supports: Skill based routing, multichannel management and real time monitoring, which are all essential functions in a modern call centre.
Currently the Virtual Office Mobile app works on iOS and Android. However you can also send and receive SMS messages on any Mac or Windows computers using the Virtual Office Desktop app or by using Virtual Office Online in a standard web browser.
SMS is only supported on the following service plans:
- Virtual Office Unlimited.
- Global extensions with US phone numbers.
- X-Series X2 licenses and above.
SMS is not supported on:
- 8x8 Express.
- Basic, Metered, Dormant, and Virtual Extensions.
SMS is not supported on Virtual Numbers and Toll Free numbers.
You can receive SMS messages from anywhere but you can only send SMS within the United States and Canada.
You can send instant messages to colleagues in your 8x8 Company Directory - but not SMS message -.by clicking on the message bubble.
8x8 IM is an instant messaging service, which is typically used to send IM between 8x8 extensions within a Virtual Office PBX. 8x8 SMS (short messaging service) on the other hand uses a mobile carrier network to generate and transfer the SMS so are not part of an 8x8 Virtual Office PBX.
Yes you can if you are a system administrator as you simply need to go into your Account Configuration Manager, where you can switch off SMS at a company-wide level. You cannot switch SMS on/off at an extension level.
You can view SMS sent to your virtual business number in any Virtual Office platform, such as in Mobile, Desktop, or Online.
If you are looking for a basic easy to install and manage virtual PBX phone system than 8×8 may well be for you. The X-Series software solution for small business provides you with all the basic functionality that any SMB would require and all through an existing internet connection.
The plus point to having a wide range of service and price plans is that it provides sufficient diversity to allow an administrator to apply the most cost effective plan on an individual extension basis. However, the costs of cancelling the service is onerous and should be taken into consideration ($59 per extension disconnect) and no refund on unused months.
With regards standard features, the cloud based virtual phone system from 8×8 has only limited features as standard in the Express pack but one of the features the integration with various CRM and accounting packages sets it head and shoulders ahead of its rivals. This ability to integrate with Salesforce, SugarCRM and other CRM/accounting packages is a major differentiator as it allows you to do so much from a productivity and efficiency perspective.
Another really great feature that sets 8×8 it apart from the field is the wide array of contact center features. The real-time reporting and monitoring is an essential feature for administering a virtual contact center of any size as it enables the supervisor to see exactly what is going on with regards calls in queues, calls waiting, call pick up times and individual agents performance. Few if any of the competition has these features enabled. This feature alone makes 8×8 one of the top choices for a small business that has a virtual contact center and combined with its CRM integration capabilities makes 8×8 a really capable, outstanding and professional virtual contact center solution.