Many organizations believe that implementing new phone technology is expensive and time consuming, but that’s simply not the case in today’s digital landscape. If you’re still using an expensive, outdated and inefficient legacy phone system read on! In this article we’ll introduce you to Microsoft Teams telephony and explore how it can transform your organization’s communication.
Combining traditional telephony features with modern collaboration tools, Microsoft Teams telephony allows users to access phone features like call forwarding, transfer, hold and voicemail within the Teams interface. It’s a reliable, cost-effective solution that simplifies communication and enhances customer experience while improving business efficiency. It can be deployed quickly and easily—with no need for expensive rewiring or complex integrations. Maintenance requirements are also significantly reduced so team members can focus on other priorities.
We’re closing out this article with a glossary of helpful terms in case some of the language we use is new to you. You’ll also find a one-pager that details how Threadfin handles Microsoft Teams telephony migrations.
What Is Microsoft Teams Telephony?
Microsoft Teams telephony is an integrated communication system that brings together the functionality of a traditional phone system, video conferencing and messaging into a single unified platform. Built on the foundation of Microsoft Teams, it allows you to make and receive calls, conduct video conferences, send instant messages and collaborate on documents within the familiar interface of Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams can accommodate simple and complex communication requirements through its contact center functionality, enabling team members to communicate seamlessly with one another and their customers regardless of their physical location.
With Microsoft Teams telephony, you’re no longer held to using a traditional carrier. You can instead choose the approach that best suits your needs, preferences and budget:
- The simplest solution in terms of deployment, management and scalability is all-in-the-cloud. With this option you leverage cloud-based telephony services directly through Microsoft Teams without relying on physical infrastructure or traditional carriers. If you go all-in-the-cloud, Threadfin handles number porting so you keep your existing phone numbers with no disruption in communication. This is one of the most challenging parts of process and the value of having an expert on your team can’t be understated.
- If you have established relationships or contracts with specific carriers and need/want to leverage those connections, you can connect to your own carrier while taking advantage of the collaboration and productivity features of Microsoft Teams. If you elect to go with a specific carrier, Threadfin works as the intermediary to coordinate and facilitate completion of the necessary steps. These steps can be tricky to navigate so having someone handle the heavy lifting for you is a major bonus.
- A hybrid approach allows you to gradually transition to the cloud while maintaining connectivity with third-party carriers for specific requirements or during the migration process.
What Are Key Microsoft Teams Telephony Capabilities?
Microsoft Teams provides a rich set of features and capabilities, listed below. Features are continuously added, seamlessly improving the offerings for users—this is a marked difference from on-premises situations where these types of changes can be a time-consuming manual process.
- Analytics: Enable data-driven decision-making and continuous improvement through insights into call patterns, call volume, average handle time (AHT) usage statistics, user behavior, agent performance and customer trends. Eliminate the need for separate reporting tools or services typically associated with third-party call center solutions.
- Automatic call distribution: Automatically distribute calls to the right agents based on skills, location or other criteria.
- Automation: Automate workflows and repetitive tasks.
- Call monitoring: Managers can listen in on calls and ensure that agents are providing excellent customer service.
- Call quality: Crystal-clear audio quality and low latency makes it easier for agents to communicate with customers.
- Call recording: Recording is built in.
- Call transcription: Conversations can be transcribed in real-time.
- Cost-effective: The need for hardware or software installation and maintenance costs are eliminated (keep reading for a full section on cost below).
- Customer relationship management (CRM) integration: Integration with popular CRM systems (like Salesforce) allowing agents to quickly access customer information.
- Customization: A variety of settings can be customized to match your organization’s requirements. These include automated greetings, call routing and queuing, voicemail greetings auto-attendants and more.
- E911: Integrates with E911 (Enhanced 911) services to provide accurate location information when emergency calls are made.
- Integration with Office 365: Seamlessly integrates with Office 365, allowing users to access their contacts, calendars and other tools from within the Teams interface.
- Multi-channel support: Supports voice, video, chat and other channels so customers can choose the communication method that best suits their needs, allowing for a more personalized customer experience.
- Scalability: Scale contact center operations up or down as needed, adapting to changing call volumes and demands without incurring additional expenses associated with traditional on-premises call center infrastructure or outsourced services.
- Security and compliance: Enforce robust security features and compliance controls to protect data and confidential information.
- Self-service IVR: The system includes a self-service IVR (interactive voice response) system that can handle common customer inquiries without the need for human intervention, freeing up time for agents to handle more complex issues.
- Third-Party Integration: Integration with third-party applications and services allow you to further extend functionality.
At Threadfin, we work with customers to enable the specific capabilities that will best suit their organization, support their employees and meet the needs and preferences of their customers. As experts in this space, we work with you to understand exactly what you require before making any changes. If needed, we recommend third party apps to account for any missing functionality in the base solution. When we’re involved, you won’t be disappointed, wondering where your favorite tools went after implementation.
More On Cost
The cost benefits of moving to Microsoft Teams telephony can’t be understated. Roman Diaz, Threadfin’s Microsoft Practice Lead, estimates a savings of 70-80% when moving from on-premises to Teams telephony.
Consider this: If you already have Microsoft 365 applications, you’re paying for Microsoft Teams now, you’re just not using it.
Because Microsoft Teams is cloud-based, ongoing maintenance expenses are reduced. Microsoft handles system updates, security patches and infrastructure maintenance, ensuring optimal performance and eliminating the burden on IT departments. Organizations can allocate their resources towards core business initiatives instead of dedicating them to phone system upkeep.
Scalability is also important in terms of cost-savings. As contact center needs fluctuate, organizations can easily adjust their subscription levels, adding or removing users as necessary. This flexibility eliminates the need to invest in excess capacity or deal with the limitations of a fixed, on-premises phone system.
There are also substantial savings in terms of long-distance and international calling. By leveraging Microsoft’s network infrastructure, organizations can take advantage of cost-effective calling plans, reducing expenses associated with cross-border communication.
What Costs Can Organizations Expect?
While the costs associated with Microsoft Teams telephony are less than legacy phone systems, there’s still some amount of investment. Here’s what you need to be aware of:
- Licensing and subscription fees: To use Microsoft Teams, organizations typically require a Microsoft 365 subscription that includes the necessary licenses. License cost varies depending on the specific subscription plan and the number of users.
- Calling plans: Microsoft offers calling plans that allow organizations to make and receive phone calls through Teams. These plans cover domestic and international calling and can be more cost-effective compared to traditional telephony services. Calling plan costs vary based on the number of users, call volume and geographical coverage.
- Hardware and equipment: While Microsoft Teams is cloud-based, organizations may still need to consider hardware requirements like IP phones, headsets, conference room equipment and other peripherals for employees to effectively use Teams telephony features. One option is the Microsoft Teams Phone, a physical desk phone certified to work seamlessly with Microsoft Teams.
- Infrastructure and network considerations: Implementing Microsoft Teams telephony requires a reliable and robust network infrastructure to ensure optimal call quality and performance. Existing network infrastructure may be sufficient, but upgrades or modifications might be needed to support the increased network traffic associated with voice and video communications.
- Training and adoption: Introducing a new communication system like Microsoft Teams may require employee training and change management efforts to ensure smooth adoption. Allocating resources for training programs, user support, troubleshooting and change management initiatives can contribute to successful adoption and minimize any potential disruption to daily operations.
When Is It Time To Make The Move?
At Threadfin, we typically work with organizations to make the move from legacy phone systems to Microsoft Teams at these junctures:
- End-of-life of existing phone systems: When the current phone system is nearing its end-of-life, outdated or approaching the end of support from the vendor
- Budget and cost considerations: When the costs of legacy phone systems are no longer best serving the organization
- Business growth and expansion: When the existing phone system won’t sufficiently support growth or planned operations expansion—either in terms of capability or cost
- Communication needs and challenges: When the organization is experiencing things like disjointed communication channels, limited collaboration capabilities or difficulties in managing customer interactions effectively
- Integration with Microsoft 365 Ecosystem: When an organization already uses Microsoft 365 applications like Teams, Outlook and SharePoint and wants to maximize that investment
We recommend that you plan to make the change early—in the case of end-of-life of existing phone systems, you want to start making the move at least 6 months before the change needs to take place.
Don’t let outdated phone systems drain your budget and hinder your business. If you’re ready to transform your organization’s communication landscape, contact us to explore how Microsoft Teams telephony can simplify communication and enhance customer experience while improving business efficiency and saving money.
Carrier: A company or service provider that operates a telecommunications network. Carriers provide various communication services, such as voice calls, data transmission, internet access and more. They may offer services over different types of networks, including the PSTN, cellular networks or IP-based networks. Carriers typically own and maintain the infrastructure required to deliver their services, such as network equipment, switches and transmission lines.
Cloud Voice: Also known as cloud-based voice or cloud telephony, is a broader term that encompasses the concept of moving voice communications to the cloud. Instead of using on-premises phone systems, cloud voice utilizes internet-based infrastructure to handle voice calls. In the context of Microsoft Teams, cloud voice refers to the integration of telephony services with Teams through the Microsoft Phone System. It enables organizations to replace their traditional phone systems with a cloud-based telephony solution, allowing users to make and receive calls using Teams on their preferred devices.
Check out this article for a Forrester Total Economic Impact study on how Cloud Voice improves employee and customer performance.
E911 (also known as Enhanced 911): An emergency calling service in North America that provides more accurate and detailed location information to emergency responders when a 911 call is made. When someone dials 911, E911 aims to automatically provide emergency operators with the caller’s location information, including their address and, in some cases, additional details like floor level or apartment number. This is crucial for emergency responders to quickly and accurately locate the caller, especially in situations where the caller may be unable to provide their location or is in distress. The “E” in E911 signifies the enhancement of the traditional 911 emergency services.
Microsoft Teams Phone: A physical desk phone that is certified to work seamlessly with Microsoft Teams. These phones are designed to enhance the Teams calling experience and offer features such as dedicated call controls, high-quality audio and integration with Teams collaboration features. They provide a familiar phone-like interface for making and receiving calls within the Teams environment.
Microsoft Teams Telephony: Telephony capabilities provided by Microsoft Teams that enables users to make and receive phone calls directly from the Teams app on their computers, mobile devices or Microsoft Teams Phones. It combines traditional telephony features with modern collaboration tools, allowing users to access phone features like call forwarding, transfer, hold and voicemail within the Teams interface.
Number porting management: The process of transferring a phone number from one telecommunication service provider to another. It allows individuals or businesses to switch their service provider while retaining their existing phone number.
Public switched telephone network (PSTN): The traditional analog telephone system that provides voice communication services over physical copper wires, fiber optic cables and other telecommunications infrastructure. The PSTN is a globally interconnected network of telephony carriers that allows users to make voice calls to anyone with a phone number, regardless of their service provider. It is the foundation of traditional landline phone systems.
Telephony: Telephony refers to the technology and methods used for transmitting voice communication over a distance. It involves the transmission, reception and processing of voice signals to enable communication between individuals or groups who are not physically present in the same location.