3CX Review: A 3-IN-1 Phone System – PBX, Video Conferencing and Live Chat



Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: October 28, 2020

Are your employees working productively from anywhere?

Can they conduct business meetings without requiring apps?

Are they serving customer requests via website live chat?

With 3CX PBX, your employees can do all of these and much more. Yes, it encapsulates all your requirements in a single platform.

Moreover, you can deploy 3CX on-premise, in your private cloud (Azure, Google, Amazon), or on Windows and Linux systems. You can even install it on the latest Raspberry Pi 4. If you want to eliminate all these hassles, 3CX can even host your PBX for you. Isn’t this exciting?

That’s not all! 3CX has got a simple, interactive, and intuitive user interface. It supports app-free web conferencing and boosts web conversions. In addition, it slashes your communication costs.

Let’s ride on the salient features and functionalities of the 3CX phone system here.

An Overview Of 3CX

3CX is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone system that works seamlessly with your SIP trunks and IP phones. It is affordable, easy to use, and simple to manage. In fact, you can set it up in just a few minutes.

We will introduce you to the 3CX Web Client and 3CX Management Console to help you get started.

The 3CX Management Console

Once you deploy the 3CX phone system successfully, you can create users and configure your apps and phones. Let’s take a look at the 3CX Management Console here.

1. Dashboard

As you log in to your 3CX Management Console, you’ll see an insightful dashboard, as below:

3cx dashboard

It gives you a complete overview of the current system status and enables you to glance through important info quickly.

2. Phones

3cx phones

Here, you can configure your IP phones. To avoid any errors in the configuration, 3CX can provision your phones automatically. Once the process is completed, you can utilize your phones centrally and remotely. You can also use the 3CX SBC (Session Border Controller) to connect remote IP phones to your PBX.

3. Extensions

3cx extensions

You can add and assign an extension or edit it as per your needs. Moreover, you can import and export these extensions. If a new member has onboarded, you can assign him/her an extension. Moreover, a welcome email will be sent automatically to the new user once you assign an extension. The member will receive an email with his/her extension number, extension pin, voicemail number, the 3CX Web Client login credentials and a QR code to connect to your extension with the 3CX Android and iOS apps.

4. Groups

Extension groups help you determine what information will be visible to whom.

3cx groups

Extensions are assigned to the default group. You can then create a new group, add members, and modify the group rights to limit access for the users and managers of the group. 

5. SIP Trunks

When you indulge in making outbound calls on your PSTN, you need to configure at least one SIP trunk or VoIP provider.

3cx groups

All you need to do is create an account with any of the VoIP providers that 3CX supports, conduct a firewall check, and add that VoIP provider account in your 3CX Management Console. 

6. Inbound Rules

It dictates how the 3CX phone system routes your inbound calls to an IVR, extension, ring group or a queue.

3cx inbound rules

3CX lets you set inbound rules for CID and DID numbers.

  • CID Inbound Rules: Caller ID inbound rules direct a call from a given ID to a specified extension
  • DID Inbound Rules: Direct Inward Dialing inbound rules assign DID numbers to a queue, digital receptionist, ring group, or an extension, as per the convenience of the caller

You can set inbound rules for calls outside business hours, during office hours, on holidays, etc.

7. Outbound Rules

It defines how 3CX will route your outgoing calls. It can be set based on the user who is calling, their assigned group, the dialed number, or the number length.

3cx outbound rules

3CX requires you to set at least one outbound rule to perform outgoing calls. You can set your outbound rules on varying criteria; for example,

  • Calls from extension(s)
  • Calls from extension groups
  • Calls to numbers starting with prefix, etc.

8. Digital Receptionist

More popularly known as Auto Attendant or IVR (Interactive Voice Response), a Digital Receptionist automatically answers your calls.

3cx digital receptionist

You can set the IVR options menu depending on the number that is called and the time when it is received. You can record various prompts for different numbers with the 3CX phone system.

9. Ring Groups

Ring Groups help you route calls to multiple phones concurrently. This is done with the help of virtual extensions.

3cx ring groups

With 3CX, you can set up a ring strategy for your ring groups.

  • Prioritized Hunt: It will first ring the first extension, then the second, after that third, and goes on till someone picks up the call
  • Ring All: All the phones added to the group will ring at the same time. Anyone available can attend the call
  • Ring Time: It dictates the time the phone should ring for

Furthermore, you can leverage its Paging functionality for making any kind of announcements to multiple extensions.

10. Call Queues

Call queues ensure that your callers never return unanswered. If your agents are busy on a call, the callers are routed to a call queue, wherein they can wait till the agent is available to answer their call.

3cx call queues

3CX uses polling strategies to define how call distribution will be done. This includes among others:

  • Hunt Random Start: This will randomly choose an agent to whom the call will be routed
  • Ring All: As mentioned earlier, it will ring the phone of all agents
  • Prioritized Hunt: Similar to Ring Groups, the calls will be distributed in order. For example, if the first agent is busy, the call goes to the second agent. You can even use skills-based routing here
  • Hunt by Threes – forwards the call simultaneously to the top 3 prioritized agents, or sends the call simultaneously to 3 random agents.
  • Round Robin – sequentially cycles through agents logged in the queue, i.e. first call is sent to agent 1, second call to agent 2 and so on.
  • Can also forward to the agent waiting the longest, with least talk time or with fewest answered calls.

Moreover, 3CX facilitates a wide array of features to keep the callers on queue engaged.

  • Music On Hold: It plays a customized audio file to entertain the callers
  • Play Into Prompt: It lets you personalize the introduction prompt before passing on the call to agents

You can also use call queues to handle your website visitor chats. This adds more value to your 3CX system.

11. Backup and Restore

3CX comes with integrated backup and restore functionalities.

3cx backup and restore

You can schedule regular backups or perform on-demand. These backups can be taken to a local drive, remote SFTP, SMB, FTP, and Google Storage. Backups can easily be used to upgrade to newer 3CX versions. In addition, 3CX supports hassle-free migration from one machine to another and between installs on Linux and Windows.

12. Reports

3CX phone system lets you fetch reports for different call center metrics, i.e., User Activity, Average Waiting Time, etc.

3cx reports

The 3CX Web Client

Once you retrieve your user account credentials from your company’s PBX (sent by the administrator), you can log in to the 3CX web client. As you log in, here is what you see:

3cx web client

Before you get started, it is recommended to install the 3CX browser extension. Click on the “Install 3CX Browser Extension” on the top left, follow the prompts, and hurray! You are all set to go. Activate your extension and unleash the potential of your 3CX phone system.

The 3CX browser extension helps you optimize your screen space effectively. It gives you immediate access to calls with its mini, pop-out web client. However, it does not feature the complete Web Client functionalities. For instance, to utilize the chat functionality, you will require switching to the 3CX Web Client. 

3cx dial pad

It is fully integrated and works efficiently across your apps and CRM. Moreover, you can manage all your Web Client functions right from this pop-out. 

3cx screenshot

You can place and receive calls within your browser, integrate with popular headset accessories, make transfers, create a conference call, record your conversation, and do video calling right from the pop-out Web Client.

What’s more on the dashboard? Well, you can change your status or set up a temporary status to acknowledge your colleagues about your availability.

3cx chat

You can set your temporary status and message for different time intervals based on your needs. The status will automatically change back to its current status when the time you had put is up.

1. People

It gives a comprehensive view of all the users on the system. You can see their extension number and also determine their availability, depending on the status they have kept. You can view those marked as favorite and all groups as required.

3cx people

2. Contacts

As the name suggests, you can call it a phonebook. It is a repository where all your contacts are saved and listed. 3CX facilitates you to categorize your contacts into professional and personal contacts. While there’s no such distinction between the two, one is for company-wide access and the other for each extension.

3cx contacts

3. Chat

You can have one-on-one or group conversations with your colleagues and web visitors. However, you do not require configuring the 3CX Live Chat plugin for conversing with your visitors. You can simply send out the Click2Talk URL for the queue or extension. Some of the actions you can take under the Chat functionality include-

3cx chats

  • Transfer: It enables you to hand over the chat to another user. This is helpful if any emergency shows up, or your colleague is the best person to take over the conversation.
  • Archive: It eliminates the fuss of deleting chats. You can simply move them to archive.
  • Block Anonymous User: If you find any irrelevant user wasting your time, you can choose to block him/her. All you need to do is select the time period and provide a valid reason to block the user.

Moreover, you can delete your chats and end any chat session as and when needed.

4. Call History

3cx call history

As shown in the image, it displays your call log. You can filter this call log by incoming, outgoing, missed, and abandoned calls. Additionally, you can callback a specific number, add it to your contacts, chat with colleagues and delete an entry from the call history.

5. Voicemail

3cx voicemail

All the voicemails dropped by the callers on your number or extension appears here. You can listen to any voicemail, download it for the future reference, callback, or delete it.

6. Schedule Conference

3cx schedule conference

You can hold instant conferences or schedule them as required. 3CX lets you put the subject of the conference and notes for the participants. This helps the invitees to prep up in advance.

Once you click on ‘Create Meeting,’ 3CX takes you to your calendar to save it and invite guests. Your scheduled conference looks like this-

3cx pickup schedule

Thus, you don’t require using separate applications to conduct conferences. Your 3CX phone system has it all.

7. WebMeeting

Similar to Google Meet, you can join in a web meeting instantly from your 3CX Web Client. It doesn’t require you to switch between windows to join a meeting. You can attend it within the Web Client window.

8. Switchboard

The 3CX Switchboard is a powerful and user-friendly tool that gives you a holistic view of your call and queue activities. Simply put, it provides you with an advanced call management system. Depending on your job role, the views of the Switchboard changes. 

  • Queue Calls: It provides all the information about the caller, callee, and the duration since it is in the queue.

3cx queue calls

You can pick a call, barge in an ongoing call, transfer, drop, park, or record a call.

  • Wallboard: It gives you a comprehensive overview of the live call stats. 

3cx wallboard

From the average call time to the number of calls answered, abandoned, waiting time, and more, it updates data in real-time. Furthermore, 3CX lets you customize the view of your Wallboard; for example, you can rearrange the metrics as you want and do a lot more.

  • Reminders: Here, you can manage and view all the reminders that you have set.

3cx reminders

Summing Up

Today, business phone systems offer a wide range of valuables, including calling, collaboration, reporting, mobile tools, and more. Moreover, it gives employees numerous ways to tap into the business activities while being away from the office.

3CX is such a VoIP phone system that addresses businesses’ telephony requirements. It helps scale with your business without being heavy on your pocket. It offers you the freedom to deploy it on-premises, in your private cloud, or get it hosted by 3CX. Moreover, it comes with easy installation and implementation processes, Even a naive user takes less time to adapt to the system.

Besides your desktop and Windows system, the 3CX phone system can be installed on mini PCs and Raspberry Pi. So, if you are looking for a modern business phone system, give 3CX a shot.

You can know more about 3CX from its website or its SoftwareSuggest Product Profile Page.

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