Detailed review of 3CX v16

In this article we will make a detailed overview of the capabilities of 3CX v16. The new version of PBX offers various improvements in the quality of customer service and increased employee productivity. At the same time, the work of the system engineer who maintains the system is considerably facilitated.

In v16, we have expanded the possibilities of joint work. Now the system allows you to communicate not only between employees, but also with your customers and customers. A new contact center interface has been added to the built-in call center 3CX. The integration with CRM systems was also expanded, new tools for monitoring service quality were added, including a new Operator PBX panel.

New contact center 3CX

Having collected feedback from more than 170,000 customers worldwide, we have developed a new call center module from scratch that is much more productive and scales better. One of the important innovations is the routing of calls according to operator qualifications. Such routing is found only in expensive specialized call centers, and 3CX offers it for a small part of the cost of such a solution from competitors. This feature is available in the 3CX Enterprise edition. Note that routing calls for qualifications is only the beginning of the development of a new 3CX call center. New features of the "real" call centers will appear in the following updates.

In our time, buyers often do not want to call the company – it is more convenient for them to contact you through the chat window on the site. Taking into account the wishes of customers, we created a new contact center widget that allows a site visitor to write in chat and even call you through a browser! It looks like this – the operators who started the chat can immediately switch to voice communication, and then even the video. This end-to-end communication channel provides excellent service – without interrupting the communication of the buyer and your employee.

Communication widget for 3CX Live Chat & Talk website is offered free of charge with all 3CX editions (even with free!). The advantage of our widget over similar third-party chat services is that the site visitor does not need to call back to you on a regular phone – he starts in the chat and immediately continues with his voice. Your operators should not learn the interface of third-party services, and the system administrator should not support them. In addition, you save a lot of money on the monthly payment of third-party communication services for your site.

To connect the widget to the site, install the plugin for WordPress and add a block of code to your site (if the site is not on WordPress, follow this instruction). Then configure the connection to the PBX, the look of the chat window and indicate on which pages the widget should appear. Operators will receive messages and respond to visitors directly through the 3CX web client. Note that this technology is in beta testing and new features will be added next updates.

In 3CX v16, we also improved server CRM integration. New CRM systems have been added, and for supported CRM there have appeared call fixing, additional options and CRM-dealers (dialers). This allows you to fully integrate telephony into the CRM interface. Support for outgoing calls via CRM dialers is only implemented for Salesforce CRM, but will be enabled for the rest of CRM as the REST API improves.

To ensure quality service, it is important to understand how your customers are served. In v16, an important improvement has been made for this – a new Operator dashboard for calls and chats. In addition, call center reports have been improved and the ability to archive call recordings has been added. Heads of call centers have long requested such opportunities!

A new call center operator panel provides convenient monitoring of events in a separate pop-up window. Over time, new information display modes will be added to it, for example, a leaderboard for evaluating KPI operators.

Call reports were the weakest link in 3CX precisely because of the outdated call center architecture. The new architecture of the Queue service in v16 has significantly improved the quality of reports. Of course, a lot of inaccuracies and errors were noticed earlier. In the following updates, new report types will appear.

Call recording of operators is used in any call center both to control the quality of service, and, sometimes, according to the requirements of the law. In v16, we have greatly improved this feature. All call recording data, including a link to the recording audio file, is now stored in the database. In addition, the system recognizes (translates into text using Google services) the first minute of each entry – now you can quickly find the desired conversation by keyword. As mentioned above, call recordings can be archived on external NAS storage or Google disk. A serious number of records now does not require a large local disk. This not only allows the use of cheap VPS hosting, but also significantly speeds up the backup and recovery of the 3CX server.

UC and collaboration

In v16, new employee collaboration technologies have appeared – full integration with Office 365, built-in web softphone and CRM integration for outgoing calls. We also improved the web client interface, expanded the capabilities of corporate chat and video conferencing.

The new system uses the latest version of the Microsoft Office API and supports all Office 365 subscriptions, ranging from inexpensive Business Essentials. Office 365 users synchronization with 3CX implemented – adding or deleting users in Office 365 creates and deletes the corresponding extension numbers in the PBX. Office contact synchronization also works. And calendar synchronization allows you to automatically set the status of the extension number 3CX, depending on your status in the Outlook calendar.

The WebRTC browser softphone, which was available in beta as v15.5, is now released. 3CX user can call directly from the browser, regardless of the OS and without installing any local applications. By the way, it integrates with Sennheiser headsets – it supports the call answer button.

In v16, chat functionality has been significantly improved. Mobile corporate chat is approaching leading applications like WhatsApp. 3CX chat has similar functionality and works about the same way – it will be easy for users to get comfortable with it. Appeared sending files, images and emoji. In the near future, message forwarding between users and chat archiving will appear. Chatting reports will also be available – an important feature for call center administrators.

The function that was in the 3CX client for Windows and was missing in the web client is setting up the BLF indicators directly by the user. Thanks to it, employees can install BLF-indicators on their own without the involvement of a system administrator. Now the BLF setting works in the web client. Also in the pop-up call card added additional information about the subscriber. In short, it is now much easier to switch between web softphone, IP phone and applications for Android and iOS.

3CX WebMeeting Web Conferencing

If you're still spending money on Webex or Zoom web conferencing, it's time to switch to 3CX! MCU WebMeeting migrated to Amazon infrastructure. This made it possible to provide high reliability, optimize traffic transmission, and provide excellent video and audio quality with a large number of participants. Also note that now the demonstration of your screen does not require the installation of extensions for the browser. And one more new feature – now participants can call WebRTC web conferencing from ordinary phones – and participate by voice, without using a PC and browser.

New features for administrators

Of course, we have not forgotten about the system administrators. Significantly improved security and performance PBX. So much so that we were able to run it on the Raspberry Pi! Another interesting feature of v16 is the new service – 3CX Instance Manager, which allows you to administer all your PBXs from a single interface.

It will be more profitable for small companies to place a PBX not in the cloud, but locally on a standard Raspberry Pi 3B + device, which costs around $ 50. To achieve this, we significantly reduced the requirements for the processor and memory, and launched v16 on the most undemanding ARM-devices Raspberry and the cheapest VPS-servers.

The 3CX instance manager allows you to centrally manage all installed PBX instances. This is a great solution for integrators – 3CX partners and large customers. You can install updates on all systems simultaneously, monitor the status of services, monitor errors, such as insufficient disk space. In the following updates, SIP trunks and devices connected via the 3CX SBC service, security event monitoring and remote quality testing of VoIP traffic will appear.

We are constantly working on corporate communications security technologies. 3CX v16 adds an interesting protection feature – a global list of suspicious IP addresses collected from all installed 3CX systems in the world. This list is then checked (IP addresses are allocated that are stably blocked) and transferred back to all 3CX servers, including your system. Thus effective cloud protection against hackers is implemented. Of course, all open-source components 3CX updated to the latest versions. Please note that the use of outdated systems with older versions of components – a database, a web server, etc. significantly increases the risk of invasion. By the way, now you can restrict access to the 3CX interface by IP addresses.

Among other features for administrators, we note RTCP statistics, which helps in finding communication quality problems; copying an extension number – now it can be created as a copy of an existing one, changing only the basic parameters. The entire 3CX interface has been translated into one-click editing, and now you can change the order of BLF indicators by simply dragging and dropping.

Licenses and prices

Despite the already quite affordable prices, we revised them downwards. Revision 3CX Standard has fallen in price by 40% (and the free version has been expanded to 8 simultaneous calls). The set of features available in different editions has changed somewhat. Also added are intermediate license sizes that will allow you to choose the most optimal PBX capacity for a particular organization.

Additional license sizes will allow the customer not to buy a larger license, just because there is no more suitable intermediate. Note that intermediate size licenses are offered only as annual. Also, such licenses can be extended at any time without a so-called fine – only the actual difference between the capacity is paid.

The 3CX Standard edition is now better suited for small companies that do not need Call Queues, reports and call recording. Such companies will pay for the PBX at the very minimum; besides Standard on 8 simultaneous calls is now free forever. Please note that the installed PBX Standard editions with a commercial key will automatically be transferred to Pro when upgrading to version 16. If you are not satisfied with this transition, refrain from upgrading to v16.

Pro edition features remain the same. For small and medium licenses the price is reduced by 20%! An important improvement is now when you receive a new license (key) from the 3CX website, it will work as a Pro edition for the first 40 days. You specify the capacity of the license yourself! This allows the client and partner to fully test all the capabilities of the PBX. Recall that, compared to Standard, the reaction of Pro adds Call Queues, reports, call recording, integration with Office 365 and other CRM systems.

In the Enterprise edition, we continue to add features for which companies have previously had to pay an order of magnitude more. For example, we have added an option to prevent an employee from disabling the recording of a conversation. The next long-requested option is call routing in the Operator Qualification Queue. We remind you that only 3CX Enterprise supports the built-in failover telephony cluster.

If we talk about the total cost of ownership 3CX, – the annual subscription is now more advantageous than an indefinite term, especially at the rate of 3 years. A perpetual license costs as 3 annual licenses, but for such a license you will still need an optional subscription for updates for 2 years (the first year is included in the price of the perpetual license). Please note – licenses for 4 and 8 simultaneous calls are now available only as annual.

Once again we want to remind you that a subscription to updates (relevant only for perpetual licenses) is worth the money! Even a simple purchase of SSL certificates and a reliable DNS service will be more expensive and more difficult to set up than renewing a subscription. In addition, the subscription provides installation of the latest security updates, new firmware for IP phones, 3CX WebMeeting web conferencing service and the right to use applications for smartphones (in other words, updated mobile applications may stop working with the old PBX server).

In the near future we will release v16 Update 1, which will include an updated development environment for voice applications 3CX Call Flow Designer, generating scripts in C #. In addition, chat improvements and SQL database support will appear for retrieving contact information through REST requests.

v16 Update 2 will include an updated 3CX Session Border Controller with centralized monitoring of remote devices (IP phones) from the 3CX management console (up to 100 phones with one SBC). There will also be support for some DNS technologies for simplified configuration of VoIP-operators.

Features that are planned to be included in the following updates: simplified configuration of a failover cluster (as amended by Enterprise), input of DID number blocks in the server interface, a new REST API for automating outbound dialing, and a new KPI dashboard for call center operators (Leaderboard).

Here is a review. Download, install, use!

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