The internet has opened up a range of new communication options for businesses, from email to live chat systems, but there’s one channel that hasn’t changed: the phones. Phone systems are the lifeblood of many businesses, allowing direct, immediate contact, and they will always play a valuable role in customer interaction.
Beyond that, phone systems are essential for internal contact as well. Sure, the office Slack or Teams channels have given some employees a way to reach one another, but nothing is quite as immediate and effective as a phone call.
Maybe you’ve reached a point where your business needs to expand its phone system and you’re looking into new options. Maybe you’re already using Teams and Outlook, and you’ve heard that Office 365 has additional phone system options that can unify your communications channels under one umbrella. Maybe it’s just time for something new.
Microsoft Teams and Office 365, as part of a larger package, offer PBX (private branch exchange) services as an additional cloud-based managed service. In other words, in addition to handling email through Outlook and Outlook.com, live chat through Teams, and productivity through Office, you can also set up phone systems through the Teams PBX service.
There are quite a few benefits to doing this, so let’s dig in and see if it’s something your business should adopt.
Benefit: Everything Under One Roof
The first and biggest benefit of using Teams for your phone needs is that it helps you unify your communications and productivity channels under one roof.
With Microsoft managing your phones, your instant messaging, your productivity apps, your email, your server architecture, your cloud services, and all the rest, you’re given a few benefits.
- It’s all designed to work together.If you’ve ever had to fight to get several disparate services to play nice together, and have been worried about an update to one of them breaking compatibility, you know the frustration of using multiple systems at once. By keeping everything under the Microsoft banner, it’s all designed to work together and won’t have those compatibility issues.
- Support for all of these can be found in one place.Need help with Office? Call Microsoft. Need help with your email? Call Microsoft. Need help with your phones? Call Microsoft. You don’t need a whole roster of other support lines and knowledge bases; it’s all in one place.
- Training is largely cross-compatible.A hotkey, command, or process that works in one program will probably work in another. Windows apps are generally all based on the same framework, and share common processes, hotkeys, and other conventions that make it easier to train people familiar with one in the use of another.
Sure, putting all of your eggs in one basket does open you up to potential issues if that basket falls apart, but this is Microsoft we’re talking about, not some small-time developer. The chances of them failing abruptly and shutting down are slim to none.
Benefit: Access from Around the World
One of the biggest benefits of using Microsoft Teams as the foundation for your phone system is that it’s a cloud-based infrastructure. As with any cloud-based service, one of the biggest benefits is the ability to access it from anywhere. Have a call center set up in your office park? They can access it. Have an employee or a whole roster working from home due to current events? They can access it. Have a sales team attending a trade show or conference halfway around the world? They can access it.
Anywhere there’s an internet connection, your representatives and employees will be able to access your phone system.
One thing this makes easy is contact with people who aren’t at their desks. Using a more traditional PBX system, if you need to contact someone in your office, you’ll have to try calling their desk, and if they aren’t there, you’ll need to track down their cell number or another means of contact. With Teams call systems, the call goes to the person, not the device; they can answer no matter where they are, so long as they’re logged into their device to receive the call.
Benefit: Easy Connection to PSTN Systems
If you’re not familiar with phone terminology, there are two definitions you’ll need to know. The first is “PBX”, or Private Branch Exchange. This is your in-office call system, where dialing an outside line requires an extra digit or two, and an outside line calling in requires an extension to reach a particular person. A PBX system does not access external lines at all, on its own.
The second definition is the “PSTN”, or Public Switched Telephone Network. This is all of the rest of the phone system outside of your business. It’s how you call other businesses or other people outside of your office. Connecting a PSTN to a PBX is a core interface in business phone systems.
If you’ve ever had to try to fight with a PBX system just to get it to connect to the broader PSTN at large, you know how awful and frustrating it can be to configure. With Microsoft Teams, it’s generally extremely easy to set up this connection. You can use your own existing switchboard and PSTN access, or you can buy access as an additional feature directly from Microsoft.
Benefit: Flexible Calling Plans
Microsoft allows very flexible call plans within the Teams phone system. You can set up specific lines or specific departments to have access to different ranges of phone connectivity. Some departments can be internal-only, while others might be able to access the PSTN for domestic calls but not international calls.
A common example of this in use is actually a powerful security feature. You can restrict, say, your finances department to only place calls to domestic numbers, which helps limit their access to phishing and scamming lines. At the same time, your sales team – which may need to contact people around the world – can dial out to international numbers without restriction.
You’re free to configure your office as you see fit, with as much or as little access as necessary. What’s more, changing your phone policies is as easy as making minor configuration changes on the back end of the system, and perhaps changing your plan with Microsoft in the case of larger changes. That’s it.
Interested in bringing your phone system to teams, schedule a quick call with us for more information.