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Technology should make our lives easier
• Save money on calls
• Call on VOIP phone, over PC or on mobile devices
• Useful calling features
• Quality service
• Confusing range of plans
• Need to commit to a specific plan
A full-service VOIP system for businesses, 8x8 may seem complicated at first glance but the service gives you a wide range of options for convenient and low-cost calling over the internet. The 8x8 package is also backed by quality technology, giving you good clear calls.
8x8 is a long-standing service provider set up in 1987 and providing VOIP services since 2002, and offers a number of ways to manage business over the phone. The service is easy to use and less expensive than traditional office telephone network systems because there is no hardware involved and calls take place over the internet. 8x8 provides a range of communications services from web conferencing to mobile plans and voice calls. The 8x8 Virtual Office and the consumer alternative allow you to make cheaper calls over the internet. We checked out the 8x8 offering to see if the plans the company offer stand out from the rest of the crowd.
The 8x8 service is easy to set up whether you are a consumer or using one of the plans for your business phones. If you have a VOIP phone and an internet connection you plug them both in and make calls from your handset. If you don’t have a VOIP phone you can use the service to make calls over the internet – you’ll need to be connected to your PC to do this although you can also enable the system to make VOIP calls from your mobile or tablet.
8x8 has a bewildering selection of plans and products to choose from. The menu is set up based on you making choices depending on your business need, your budget, your choice of product, your expectations etc... and every plan seems to have various other options attached to it. You’ll probably have to call the sales people in order to figure out what you’re getting and whether it’s good for you.
For example, the Home Office phone service is for small businesses wanting to promote a more professional image and includes unlimited calling to US and Canadian numbers, a SoftPhone application for calling over the computer, and mobile apps for remote workers or travel. The Small Business Phone Service is designed for use with 8x8 VOIP phones and gives you a number of benefits which allow you to connect a small network of phones on the same VOIP system. There are many more plan options.
Benefits of all the 8x8 plans include saving money; indeed, this is one of the top benefits of installing the system. You do lose a little in terms of convenience but cost savings often balance this out. Virtual Office plans at 8x8 also give you benefits when calling internationally. Add unlimited calls to countries across the world and you can make savings when you regularly call abroad. There are a number of different extension plans to choose from including a Global Extension plan for calling 35 different countries, and the Unlimited Extension plan for calling unlimited to the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, US Virgin Islands, Guam, UK, France, Spain, Italy and Ireland.
With the Virtual Office plans you get a wide selection of different features to make managing your calls easier. We like that all the features are together in one place which makes it easier to create a unified business network, or to enjoy a simplified home calling system.
The essential features are all here: personalized voicemail greetings, caller ID, three-way calling, call transfers, call waiting, and caller ID blocking. In addition, signing up for an 8x8 office plan gives you extra business features including hold music, ring groups, an auto attendant, directory assistance, do not disturb feature, voicemail delivered directly to email, and a click to connect web dialler. The business features also integrate well with other programs like Salesforce, Outlook, and Netsuite.
Manage your calling features using a handy online dashboard, from where you can also see your call history, voicemail notifications etc.
Ease of use
8x8 looks professional, polished and slick but it is also easy to manage. The online dashboard system is a good way of managing your account and also your settings. Using VOIP through your desk phone or through the computer are both easy to accomplish and the standard call features are no more difficult to operate than those you are used to on your regular phone.
Help & support
8x8 gives good customer service from their California-based support team. You can call or chat online, log into your account to manually change settings and manage your billing, or use the online resources. These resources include downloadable articles, FAQs, and additional setup documentation.
While 8x8 doesn’t provide anything particularly different to what you would find in another VOIP business service, the system is easy to set up and gives you good customer support options. We encountered a few minor glitches when looking into the system but overall the service was professional and convenient.
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