Part III: VoIP Deep Dive – 8 X 8

29
Dec

For our third installment in our Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) blog series, we are evaluating 8 x 8. 8 x 8 is based in San Jose, California and has over 1 million users worldwide.

8×8 has multiple cloud-based services. Each offers a cloud phone, auto-attendant, voicemail, unlimited calling to US and Canada, team messaging and online meetings. Their ‘express’ offering includes over 30 features but limits video conferencing to 100 users. Additional features are available incrementally with their eight X series of offerings. You can select needed features available in pre-packaged offerings that they call X1 to X8.  This product is especially beneficial for organizations with up to 9 users.

A key feature of any VoIP solution is the ability to integrate with other applications. 8×8 integrates with Microsoft Office 365, Slack, HubSpot and Google G Suite. Other integrations such as Microsoft Teams are available for a fee.

Unlimited international calling is available through their other plans, but calls to all US and Canada area codes are included in the entry level ‘Express’ service.

Incoming call forwarding to another number either sequentially or simultaneously is a common and – in my opinion – important feature of any VoIP system. 8×8 has this feature and it provides a better customer experience than dealing with voice options menus. In a traditional phone system, the ability to take a call in and then forward the call requires the use of two phone lines, as with 8×8 and the other VOIP services we’ve reviewed so far, the decision about how many lines you need is gone. The service is purchased by the number of users and phone lines are no longer a factor.

Some VoIP services use a third-party integrated video conferencing solution, but 8×8’s video conferencing service is built into the product.

The following is a list of key features and their descriptions available with 8×8’s Express ($12.00/month) plan.

  • Voicemail and Greeting – Personalized voice mail and greetings.
  • Video Conferencing – Using their built-in system, 8×8 allows you to host video calls for up to 100 callers.
  • Unlimited audio conference calling – host unlimited conference calls.
  • Unlimited Business SMS – Text messages can be sent to your phone number. This is helpful to provide a single number to your clients and shield your personal cell phone number.
  • Exceptional Call Analytics – useful for sales and customer service calls, but it’s also an excellent feature for identifying trends in customer and employee behavior.
  • Multi-level IVR – Integrated voice response allows callers to traverse your custom created menus.
  • Mobile & Desktop Apps (iOS and Android) – Access your VoIP phone from your mobile or desktop applications, no need for a conventional desk phone.
  • Extensions – You can setup extensions for each phone user in your organization and reach them directly or setup a ring group.
  • Call Forwarding – Forward calls to any extension, to an outside line, or directly to voicemail using 8×8’s answering rules.
  • Auto-Attendant – Customize greetings and route incoming calls based on business hours, the date, or a date range.
  • Third party Integrations (Google, Salesforce, etc) – this feature allows you to reduce app switching to send a message, make a call, or join a video meeting. Currently 8×8 integrates with over 200 applications.

It’s important to note that while 8×8 provides an express offering which is limited to the features provided in their entry level package, their X product offers 8 different bundle offerings making it as close to a complete à la carte offering as I have seen. It is clear from recent reviews that a change in their customer service procedures has left many users frustrated by the lack of direct support. This is an area that you should explore as you investigate their offering.

Next month, I’ll take a deeper look into 8×8 competitor Intermedia.

 

Authored by Donald Nokes