With relentless reliance on dependable phone systems for day-to-day operations in pretty much every business sector, even considering the potential of upgrading or moving to a different system can cause most business owners distress. The cost, the downtime, the business impact — it’s almost too much. It’s completely understandable then that many businesses, which have significantly upgraded their network infrastructure in recent years, are still running on antiquated phone systems.
The pandemic caused a sea shift on phone systems for those of us who needed them for everyday operations. When everyone was suddenly forced to work remotely, office phone systems routing calls around a building with local hardware became obsolete overnight. Call centers shuttered as no one was there to take the calls to keep the business running.
Luckily, many on-site or “on prem” phone systems included the capability to forward calls to external phone numbers, so most businesses were able to eventually jerry-rig a system to forward calls to cell phones of people who needed to get them. But it is undeniable that the pandemic shutdown permanently changed the typical working landscape. Nearly every business out there is now adjusting to a much more significant portion of remote work, which necessitated calls being taken remotely and not on prem.
Most businesses aren’t getting rid of their offices or storefronts though. There will continue to be a need for desk phones, conference rooms, and presentation halls. Thus, business phone systems need to be flexible enough to accommodate both types of workspaces: remote and on prem.
Enter cloud-based phone systems. When you rely on a server in the cloud to centrally manage your phone system, the ability to connect to remote workers becomes much more straightforward. Partnering with a provider that has proper security concerns, versatile utility, and reliable support makes the process even easier. For businesses with a significant portion of workers working remotely, moving the phone system to the cloud is the most logical move.
Here at Vermont Panurgy, after much consideration, we decided to go with Microsoft’s phone system solution: Microsoft Teams Phone. Relatively new to the VOIP phone system game, Teams Phone comes with the backing of the Microsoft brand and is integrated into a communication platform (Microsoft Teams) that we had already been using since March 2020. Microsoft Teams Phones has a decent and ever-growing marketplace of compatible accessories, as well as integration with smartphones, which for us, relieved a potentially significant cost to change. Microsoft is also able to host a business’ phone numbers directly. With Microsoft Teams Phone, you don’t need to get a phone number from your local provider and forward it to your VOIP system; your phone numbers are all included in the subscription cost for Teams Phone. You can even port existing phone numbers over to Microsoft. One less bill to worry about! And often one significantly cheaper too!
Our experience setting up the Microsoft Teams Phone system was surprisingly smooth. All the configuration of the phone system is done in the Teams Admin Center, with everything necessary under the Voice tab. Microsoft’s documentation is thorough, which provides ample information for typical questions; if needed their support is timely and with the proper level of technical aptitude. We were able to get the whole system set up and tested quite quickly.
We got our team up to speed on how to use the new interface and got everyone connected in the methods according to each user’s preference (i.e., using a desk phone, mobile app, computer headset, etc.). We made plenty of calls to each other to test out the various options and methods of use and everyone got comfortable quickly.
When we flipped the switch and went live with Microsoft Teams Phone, our clients immediately noticed an improvement. With clearer calls, less hold time and more reliability, it was an obvious upgrade. After dealing with a few hiccups, we also noticed a vastly improved user experience. Our Exchange calendars are now integrated in with our Teams availability. Now, if one of us is scheduled as busy, call queues skip over that person and automatically go to the next available agent. Direct extensions are easy to implement, and everyone has a direct phone number as well as an extension from the main line. The auto attendant machine-voice-lady has a reasonable cadence to her voice, and being able to type in changes and updates rather than having to re-record a whole welcome message makes our ability to update our clients on important notices simple and efficient.
One of the greatest benefits of being an early adopter of something you believe in is watching it get better. Since we adopted Microsoft Teams Phone, we have seen Microsoft fix a few annoying bugs, add more features and improve the reliability of their system. Just a few examples of those recent improvements are: dynamic 911 capabilities; the ability to integrate existing SIP phones from certain manufacturers; and additional functionality for Teams desk phones. We expect Microsoft will continue to tweak and improve Teams Phones to keep up with industry changes.
Having experienced changing to Microsoft Teams Phone ourselves, and being the helpful MSP neighbors that we are, Vermont Panurgy is ready to help your company transition away from your antiquated phone system to the flexible, multi-platform, cloud-based phone system that is Microsoft Teams Phone. Give us a call today to discuss how we can help!