Working-from-Home has caused a significant change in the way that organizations are communicating, both internally and externally. This has led to a massive spike in collaborative tools such as G Suite, Slack, and Basecamp, but none of these saw a more dramatic spike than the increase in usage of Microsoft Teams.
The number of daily active users of Teams more than doubled from 32 million users in March 2019 to 200 million as of 2021. Microsoft reports that over 91% of the fortune 100 US companies use Microsoft Teams Phone System. 91%!
The internet has opened up a wide range of communication options for businesses, from email to live chat systems, but there’s one channel that hasn’t changed: the phones. A Cloud-based phone system is the life of many businesses, allowing direct audio conferencing and they will always play an essential role.
Phone systems are valuable for internal communication too. 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 using mobile devices.
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 Consulting 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, live chat through Teams, and productivity through Office, you can also set up phone systems through the Teams PBX service on your admin center.
Teams Phone Features
Teams Business Phone System provides the following features.
Teams Business Phone feature
Cloud Auto Attendants
Cloud Auto Attendants let you create a menu system that enables external and internal callers to locate and place or transfer calls to company users or departments in your organization.
A configuration called Direct Routing allows customers to connect voice trunks directly from their network to Microsoft Teams or interconnect other telephony entities such as domestic calling plan or analog devices. Learn more about Teams Direct Routing and Calling plans here.
Cloud Call Queues
Let’s you configure how call queues are managed for your organization: for example, set up greetings and music on hold, search for the next available call agent to handle the call, and so on.
Music on Hold
Plays default music defined by the service when an external call from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is placed on hold. This feature works for one-to-one PSTN-to-Teams calls in addition to calls made to a call queue. This feature provides on-hold notification parity with other platforms.
Call Answer/Initiate (by name and number)
Let’s users answer inbound calls with a touch, and place outbound calls either by dialing the full phone number or by clicking a name in the client.
Call Forwarding Options and Simultaneous Ring
Let’s users set up forwarding rules so calls can go with them anywhere, or calls can be forwarded to colleagues or to voicemail.
Group Call Pickup and Forward to Group
Let’s users share incoming calls with colleagues so that the colleagues can answer calls that occur while the user is unavailable. Less disruptive to recipients than other forms of call sharing (such as call forwarding or simultaneous ringing) because users can configure how they want to be notified of an incoming shared call.
Transfer a Call and Consultative Transfer
Let’s users transfers calls to another person. Or, if they need to leave their office but want to continue the conversation, they can transfer the calls from their PC or IP phone to their cell phone.
Transfer to Voicemail Mid Call
Let’s users transfer to voicemail during a call.
Call Park and Retrieve
Let’s users place a call on hold in the Teams service in the cloud. When a call is parked, the service generates a unique code for call retrieval. The user who parked the call or someone else can then use that code and a supported app or device to retrieve the call.
Call Phone Number from Search
Let’s users place a call from the search box by using the /call command and specifying a name or a number.
Calls from inside the company display a detailed caller ID that pulls information from the corporate directory, showing picture ID and job title instead of just a phone number. For calls from external phone numbers, the caller ID as provided by the phone service provider is displayed. If the external phone numbers are secondary numbers in the corporate directory, then the information from the corporate directory will be displayed.
Let’s users play a call or meeting on another HID device that is connected to Teams; for example, switching from their PC speakers to a headset.
Presence-Based Call Routing
Controls inbound communications with presence, enabling the user to block all incoming communication except from those specifically indicated.
Integrated Dial Pad
Let’s users dial by name or by number anywhere in the search bar and in the dial pad, speeding up the process of making outbound calls.
Let’s users securely connect, communicate, and collaborate with users in federated tenants.
Make and Receive a Video Call
If the user's account is enabled for video calls, the user can make face-to-face video calls with their contacts. All they need is a camera, their computer’s speakers and microphone. Users can also use a headset if their computer doesn’t have a built-in audio device.
When a user receives a voicemail, it is delivered to their Exchange mailbox as an email with the voicemail message as an attachment. Users can listen to their messages on their certified desktop phone, conference phones and on all Teams or Skype for Business applications.
Cloud Voicemail User Settings
Lets users configure their client settings for voicemail greetings, call answering rules, and greeting language, including out-of-office greetings.
Users with multiple speaker devices connected to their PC can choose to set a secondary device to ring in addition to their default speaker. For example, a user with a headset connected to the PC and desk speakers can choose to have both headset and desk speakers ring when a call comes in so that they don’t miss a call.
Distinctive Ring Alerts
Let’s users choose separate ringtones for normal calls, forwarded calls, and delegated calls so they can distinguish the type of call.
Shared Line Appearance
Let’s users share their phone line so that another user can make and receive calls on their behalf.
Let’s users add (PSTN) phone numbers to a blocked list so that the next call from that number is blocked from ringing the user.
Common Area Phones
A common area phone is typically placed in an area like a lobby or conference room making it available to multiple people. Common area phones are set up as devices rather than users and can automatically sign into a network.
Media Bypass Support
For better performance, media is kept between the Session Border Controller (SBC) and the client instead of sending it through the Teams Phone.
Microsoft Teams as Your Business Phone System
Let’s look into how Microsoft Teams makes the perfect business phone system.
The 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’ll never look back with this high-quality audio.
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 marketing team attending a show or conference halfway around the world? They can access it.
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.
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.
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 calling plans.
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 restrictions.
Pricing for using a calling system with Teams is quite low. The price you’ll have to pay depends on the system you already have set up, specifically what level of Office 365 license you’re already using. Enterprise Voice Phone systems are included add-on licenses with Office 365 at the E5 level, but E1 and E3 require a minor additional fee ($8) to add the phone system. From there’s, it’s a simple matter of $12 for domestic calling and $24 for international calling.
It’s worth mentioning that those prices are for a basic default package of minutes for domestic and international calling. If you exceed a certain level of usage, you may need to purchase additional credits, which will cost more depending on your location. You can download the rate sheet directly from Microsoft here. All of this goes to show that Microsoft’s system is designed to be easy to use, accessible, quick to set up, and convenient for businesses of all sizes.
At Communication Square, our certified Microsoft 365 experts can help your business with a smooth transition to Microsoft 365 Business Voice in Teams and provide ongoing support. Get started today to switch to the ultimate phone system today.
Last Updated 4 weeks ago