Whether you’re messaging with a customer on social media or chatting with a visitor on your company’s website, business communication today requires you to connect with consumers on multiple channels.
Recent studies show that companies with an effective omnichannel communication strategy retain close to 90% of their existing clients — while businesses with a lackluster strategy retain only 33%.
Platforms like the 3CX Business Phone System streamline internal and external communications by streamlining popular channels into a single interface.
Here, we’ll break down the available features, prices and plans, and user experience that makes the 3CX system stand out from competitors.
Table of Contents:
- 3CX Pricing and Plans
- 3CX Features and Functionality
- Overall User Experience
- Who is 3CX Best For?
- Top 3CX Alternatives
- Learn More About Unified Communications
- 3CX FAQs
|Available Communication Channels||Plans and Price Range||Standout Features||Who Should Use 3CX|
According to the company website, the 3CX Phone System can save users up to 80% on the costs of telco communication.
Here, we’ll examine the Unified Communication platform’s available plans to help you better determine how much you can expect to save.
The price strategy for 3CX is based on the number of concurrent calls, as well as the number of users and the corresponding suggested number of licenses. There are available solutions for small businesses and large corporations, and the plans offer a high degree of scalability.
All plans, including the free plan, come with the below standard features:
- Unlimited phone extensions
- iOS and Android smartphone apps
- Select your own SIP trunk provider
- Chat message platform
- Click2Call browser extension
- Voicemail and the ability to receive voice messages via email
- A high number of simultaneous calls and ringing (user extension and mobile device)
- Call parking
- Busy lamp field
- Plug and play hard phone provisioning and headphone plugin integration
- Integrated fax server
- Phone directory
- Up to 25 video conference participants
- Screen and PDF sharing
- Whiteboarding and polling
- Website live chat
- Call logging
The below table for the two paid plans is based on the cost of 25 users and 8 licenses.
|Features||Pro Plan||Enterprise Plan|
|Price||$1.08/user per month ($325 annually)||$3.31/user per month ($394 annually)|
|Minimum Hosted Memory||1 GB||2 GB|
|Custom FQDN and SMTP Server||✓||✓|
|Hotel PBX Capabilities||✓||✓|
|Dial-in Access for Web Conferencing||✓||✓|
|Maximum Number of Web Conference Participants||100||250|
|Contact Center Functionality||✓||✓|
|Call Queue Management||✓||✓|
|Call Recording, Transcription, and Transcription Search||✓||✓|
|Call barge, Listen in, Call Whisper||✓||✓|
|Hot Desking and Call Flow Designer||✓||✓|
|Advanced Call Routing Options||✓|
3CX offers a wide variety of VoIP features, video calling capabilities, and third-party software integrations.
A higher level of customization is also available since 3CX is an open standards (open-source) PBX system operating within a secure, private cloud.
It is compatible with Google Chrome, Linux, Firefox, and Opera browsers, as well as Windows and Apple computers.
Mobile applications are available with iPhones and Apple devices, Android devices, and even Raspberry Pi.
Supported SIP phones include Yealink, snom, Grandstream, and more.
A list of additional compatible IP phones can be found on the 3CX website.
Below, we’ll outline the software’s best features, which include:
- Virtual Telephony and Call Management
- Web Conferencing
- Live Website Chat and Facebook Messenger
- SMS Texting
- Software Integrations
Virtual Telephony and Call Management
3CX lets users choose between hosted IP PBX and on-premises cloud-based management for its 3CX PBX business phone feature.
Users can make and receive Internet calls via compatible traditional telephones, via the softphone app in desktop computers via the Web Client interface, and from the mobile app. A 3CX Google Chrome extension is also available.
Call forwarding means that inbound calls on business phone numbers can be directed to multiple phone numbers, including an agent’s cell phone, home phone, or another private phone number. These calls can also be forwarded to other office extensions and departments.
As of this writing, users can take up to 16 simultaneous calls across multiple phone lines.
The standout features are the call routing and call queuing options.
Call routing options include:
- Round robin routing
- Skills-based routing
- First available routing
- Shortest talk time routing
- Longest idle time routing
- Call blasting and hunt groups
- Fewest answered routing (calls directed to agents who has answered the least amount of calls in a set period)
Call queueing and call paths allow users to set maximum wait times before calls are forwarded to additional phone numbers, departments, or agents.
In addition to setting customized call forwarding rules, users can configure:
- Automatic callbacks
- Estimated wait times
- Maximum number of callers in queue
- Priority queuing
- Wrap-up time
Virtual voice message tools automatically record voice messages via voice-to-text and send either audio MP3 attachments or transcripts to email. Users can receive push notifications on their virtual phone system when they have a new voice message and can search message transcriptions.
Additional features include:
- Caller ID
- Unlimited phone extensions
- Call presence and current agent status
- Call recording
- Call monitoring
- Customizable greetings
- IVR auto-attendant/virtual receptionist
- Hold music
- Analytics on talk time, call abandonment rate, call history, and more
- Missed call notifications
Web Conferencing and Chat Messaging
3CX offers browser-based webRTC video conferencing for up to 250 participants on desktop computers, smartphones via the Mac Apple and Android apps, and on additional mobile devices.
The team instant messaging feature can be used during a video call to share files of up to 64MB each, tag users, and to create public and private message channels or groups. Internal employees can transition to a video call from a chat message with one click, as can website visitors communicating with agents via live chat support. Video calls can also be scheduled in advance with emailed invitations.
When creating ad-hoc conferences, users can add notes, set the subject of the call, share meeting locations, and choose the call type from options.
The web meeting tool comes with host controls like the ability to hide participant names, make everyone an organizer, mute/remove/block participants, and configure participant remote desktop control.
Additional video calling and chat features include:
- Attendee list and participant profiles
- Meeting recording
- Recordings emailed to participants after a conference
- Share PDFs
- Screen sharing
- Polls, surveys, and reactions
- Virtual hand raising and Q&A
- Personalized meeting rooms
Live Website Chat and Facebook Messenger
Live website chat instantly connects site visitors with agents and representatives to increase conversions and improve the customer experience. It also allows agents to communicate with customers without having to give out their personal contact information.
Real-time chat syncing means that conversation history is instantly updated across the entire system. Therefore, if the chat is transferred to another agent or if a different agent handles the chat later, everyone is able to pick up the conversation right where they left it — and agents are better prepared to properly assist customers.
The chat feature can also work with an integrated CRM system to provide customer order history, contact details, and information about past interactions.
If visitors wish to elevate the chat session at any point, they can click a button to instantly transition to a phone call or video call.
In addition to website chat, agents and customers can communicate via Facebook Messenger and access the same features.
As with phone call queuing, both Facebook messages and website chats can be automatically assigned to a department/user or directed to the chat queue. Tickets can be sent to specific agents, or to the first available agent.
Additional chat support features include:
- Chat transfer
- File sharing and image sharing (JPEG, PNG, Adobe PDF, MS Office, Plain and Rich Text)
- Block anonymous chat requests
- Automatic ticket synching with CRM systems
- Real-time notifications on desktop and mobile devices
SMS Text Messaging
Employees can write business SMS messages via their business phone number from their desktop computer chat management console and can communicate with coworkers and clients within a single dashboard.
Texts can be composed and read on desktop computers and mobile devices, as well as within mobile apps.
As with other calls and chat messages, texts can also be prioritized and placed into queues or directly routed to individual users.
Additional texting features include:
- Ability to send links
- Send MMS messages
- Access to texting analytics (average response time, etc.)
- Access CRM contacts in the text message portal
- Send and receive appointment reminders
3CX integrates with top team telecommunications and CRM software, including:
- Microsoft Outlook
- Office 365
Additionally, the 3CX Hotel Module integrates with top hospitality management software and Property Management Systems like Roommaster and Micros Fidelio. This makes it easy to set wake-up calls, room status, manage guests’ phone bills, and more.
In 2020, 3CX won PC Pro’s Technology Excellence Award for Business Software of the Year and was recognized by Winnmag Pro and Baaz as one of the Best Business Communication Solutions.
While the platform has received professional recognition for its Business Phone Service, what do real users think of it?
We developed the below pros and cons table based on current user reviews and customer feedback.
|Cost-effective, especially for teams that don’t need advanced call management features and have their own CRM system in place. Small businesses can often get by on the free plan.||Call log history and analytics lack essential communication KPIs, and instead focused on broader, more general information.|
|Auto-provision feature for plug-and-play phones makes installation and setup simple and fast. Plug-and-play also means the hardware is portable.||The web conferencing feature needs improvement, as it lacks the functionality and features compared to popular tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.|
|Live website chat feature means customers can easily communicate in real-time on a company’s website or their Facebook Messenger account. Agents can automatically transition to a phone call from the live chat interface if needed.||The expensive support ticket system means users often lose time trying to repair issues on their own, and phone support is only available 24/5.|
|The call transcription search bar makes it easy to find specific customer complaints, as well as to search by keyword to understand common issues.||The softphone interface is not intuitive, outdated, and can make it difficult to effectively manage calls on desktop computers.|
|Video conferencing does not require users to download an app for access.||Call routing features are not as advanced as larger companies often need them to be.|
3CX is an excellent choice for mostly remote companies that have a moderate to high daily call volume, but still need a business phone system that allows for a good amount of team collaboration and internal communication.
As it offers free unlimited extensions, it’s also a good option for companies with larger customer service departments or sales representatives.
Additionally, because it’s an open platform solution, 3CX users will be able to select their own cloud providers, choose their own hardware, and use their own SIP trunk. Users can opt for either on-premises or cloud-based hosting, allowing for a greater level of control.
This also makes it a smart choice for businesses that need a high level of customization when it comes to their business communication platforms.
Before you make a final decision about using the 3CX phone system, you may want to explore additional options.
The below table outlines additional competitors, including:
|Pricing||Quote-Based||4 paid plans from $19.99/user per month to $49.99/user per month||4 paid plans from $19.99/user per month to $49.99/user per month||3 paid plans ranging from $22.00/user per month to $32/user per month||3 paid plans ranging in price from $8.00/user per month to $30.00/user per month||3 paid plans ranging in price from $24.00/user per month to $39.00/user per month|
|Advantages Over 3CX||
|Best For||MLBs needing advanced customer self-service options like appointment scheduling, or telemarketing companies||Companies of any size that frequently collaborate on files, as well as businesses who need a solution with lots of unlimited communication options||Midsize to large businesses that heavily rely on video communications, as well as those needing advanced team collaboration tools||Enterprise-level corporations with geographically diverse employees needing a platform with all-in-one communication capabilities||Existing Zoom Meetings customers who want to add on a lower-cost business telephone, as well as small or newer businesses that need a metered “by-the-minute” payment plan||SMBs with mostly remote and mobile teams that need to be accessible across multiple devices, as well as call centers that need highly customizable call paths|
Need more information on what to look for in a Unified Communications solution?
Our interactive table on the top business communication and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) providers outlines the top unified communications features and call center features your platform should have, offers more information on popular tools, and includes feedback from existing users.
Below, we’ve answered some of the top FAQs about 3CX.