With the success of omnichannel communication, many businesses wonder if telephony is needed, since customers and prospects can reach out to companies on the channel of their choice. For example, they can reach out on a social media channel or a business's website via live chat, chatbots, and other means.
The truth is telephone communication is still alive and strong and should be part of every business' multichannel communication solution. It is also crucial to customer experience and, therefore, a company's bottom line. Based on the 2022 Invoca Buyer Experience Benchmark Report, consumers prefer to call companies, especially when they need help. Of the 500 consumers surveyed, 68% reported they called during their buying journey.
The importance of telephony in a consumer’s buying journey brings the conversation to Microsoft (News - Alert) Teams. According to Business of Apps, MS Teams is the most popular business communication platform, which is currently used by approximately 270 million users, up from 20 million in 2019. So, it makes perfect sense that companies using this popular application would want to make it an all-in-one communication and collaboration productivity tool by giving their users full voice capability to make and receive calls from anywhere.
A version of Microsoft Teams is free for Microsoft 365 or Office 365 subscribers, with all the basic but essential functionality. Microsoft has many subscription levels. However, businesses that want more from MS Teams, such as voice, can look into a higher subscription level. For example, the Microsoft 365 or Office 365 E5 plan comes with the Teams Phone (News - Alert) license with options to add a Calling Plan, enabling users to make, receive, and transfer calls through a Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). Companies with Microsoft 365 or Office 365 E1 and E3 plans can add the Teams Phone license at an additional cost.
Over the years, Microsoft has made it easier for businesses to use MS Teams as their voice solution by offering businesses many ways to add voice.
Here’s How to Add Telephony to MS Teams
To enable telephony in MS Teams, each user needs a Microsoft Teams Phone license, also known as a Phone System license. Companies either have the license bundled with their subscription or need to add the license to their existing subscription. Second, users require PSTN connectivity so users can make and receive external phone calls on any device with a Microsoft Teams client.
- Microsoft offers businesses end-to-end services, including a Phone System license that uses Microsoft's PBX (News - Alert) in the cloud and a Microsoft calling plan, domestic or domestic and international, for a full telephony experience. In this situation, Microsoft is your phone provider when adding voice to MS Teams. Businesses can get numbers from Microsoft, or they can bring their numbers over. Before companies go this route, they should do their research. Not all numbers can be ported. In addition, companies should seriously consider if they want new numbers. Getting new numbers mean reaching out to every contact to update your number. Lastly, ask for detailed information about any restrictions on the calling plans. Are there any countries not covered in the plan? Multinational companies may find they cannot use MS Teams with PSTN calling in all their locations.
- Direct Routing offers businesses another way to deliver PSTN connection. Direct Routing gives businesses greater flexibility by allowing them to use any telephony carrier; most often, the choice is for companies to use their existing telecom provider. In addition, third-party providers typically have worldwide coverage allowing users to make and receive calls worldwide. Businesses will still need a Microsoft Phone System license for each user. Lastly, depending on how the telephone lines are delivered, companies may need to implement a Microsoft Certificated Session Border Controller (SBC) to interface with Direct Routing. Although Direct Routing offers greater flexibility, like Microsoft's end-to-end service, it can start to add up in cost.
- The third option is for organizations that want an economical way to add essential voice capability and leverage their existing phone lines without additional licensing costs, like a Teams Phone License for every user from Microsoft. Companies use their current telecom provider for PSTN connection, so there is no concern about sourcing or changing providers or installing new infrastructure. This option is ideal in the following situations:
- Company cannot use Direct Routing due to regulations directed at the telecom companies in their country;
- Company is heavily invested in its infrastructure, which contains a large number of endpoints the company does not want to part with if the endpoints are not supported; or
- Company is in a country where number portability is not available and the company will not part with its present phone numbers.
Confirm whether the vendor's integration only offers dial-tone when pursuing this economical option. Look for a vendor that delivers more functionalities like contact lookup. Finally, ensure the solution provides convenience to users. One of the primary needs of Microsoft Teams users is the ability to access, search, and dial phone numbers stored in Microsoft Active Directory (AD) or their desk phone. The third option has this capability.
About the author: David Liu is Founder & CEO at Deltapath. Deltapath has been making the impossible possible in Unified Communications (News - Alert) for 20 years by revolutionizing how organizations communicate and collaborate. The company specializes in solutions that solve communication pain points, extend the life of your investments, and improve productivity, workflow, and customer experience so our customers can become their best selves. Deltapath is currently focusing on telephony services for MS Teams E1 and E3 subscribers, mobility, omnichannel communication, Salesforce CTI (News - Alert), CUCM replacement, and telehealth. Visit our website to discover what else Deltapath can do for you.
Edited by Erik Linask