Microsoft Business Voice was rolled out in November 2020 with relatively little fanfare. The cloud-based VoIP solution could transform the telephony system for your business – but it could also prove to be an expense you don’t actually have to invest in.
If your business receives a high volume of phone calls from customers but you want to transfer your telephony system from an outdated conventional system that unnecessarily expensive to a reliable, secure and robust cloud solution, Microsoft VoIP is a good option.
On the other hand, companies with a distributed workforce that only make internal calls over Private Branch Exchange (PBX) may not need the complete Microsoft cloud phone system. If Microsoft Teams satisfies your communication needs there is no reason for you to purchase add-ons.
It’s worth pointing out at this point that Microsoft 365 Business Voice is an additional £12 in the UK. This is on top of your existing Microsoft 365 subscription.
And to qualify for Microsoft 365 Business Voice, you have to sign up to one of Microsoft’s subscription plans; Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, or one of the Enterprise subscriptions; E1, E3, or A3.
There are big plusses, however. Microsoft VoIP cloud phone system comes with a new generation of valuable features including audio/video conferencing, enterprise-grade telephony capabilities and a 99.9% uptime guarantee
Wide-ranging features include:
- Domestic calling and international calling as standard
- Unify calling and chat functions
- Call from anywhere, on any device
- Single phone number across all your devices
- Screen sharing functionality
- Join meetings with one click
- Cloud-powered AI voice transcription
- Inline chat translation
- Real-time captioning in meetings
- Re-route calls by time zone, language and availability
Below, we take a closer look at the benefits of Microsoft 365 Business Voice and describe user applications and the benefits it brings to Microsoft Teams.
Benefits of Microsoft 365 Business Voice
The uptick in cloud-based software, team workspaces and instant messaging aligns with the benefits offered by Microsoft Business Voice. With widespread work-from-home policies in place, businesses also need an effective solution that empowers a distributed workforce.
For the most part, Microsoft Teams supports your companies remote working strategy. But for companies that need a little extra grunt in the telephony department, the option to upscale on to Microsoft 365 Business Voice can enhance your business communication – in-house and externally.
Microsoft’s new-generation VoIP phone system creates a single place for distributed teams to collaborate, make calls from anywhere, from any device and can significantly lower the costs of your telephone bills.
“For companies with around 300 employees and a focus on Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 Business Voice is a no-brainer way to add robust SMB VoIP capability across both desktop and mobile devices.” ~ PCMag
SMEs should also seriously consider using Microsoft Business Voice as a telephony solution, particularly if you’re relying on a distributed workforce to collaborate effectively.
Firms that receive a high volume of inbound calls can also gain an advantage. The latest-generation Microsoft 365 Business Voice comes with an advanced re-routing function, call forwarding, voicemail-to-email and call queues.
That said, Microsoft Business Voice is not a good fit for every business. Whilst you can take incoming calls and make outgoing calls to people that are not in your list of VoIP contacts, you will be charged for these calls on top of the £12 a month you have to pay for the Microsoft 365 Business Voice Licence.
The Microsoft VoIP phone system is not a cost-effective solution for call centres or businesses that require integrated voice response applications or multinational companies operating in territories where voice services are restricted by government legislation.
What does Microsoft 365 Business Voice include?
- Unlimited domestic calls anywhere in the UK including mobile
- 600 international call minutes per month/per user
- Dial-in audio conferencing for up to 250 people per meeting
- Call transfer
In addition, Microsoft Teams voice calling features include:
- Contact centre integration
- Multi-level auto attendants
- Cloud voicemail
- Call queues
- Direct Routing
- Audio Conferencing
Microsoft Business Voice for Microsoft Teams Calling
Microsoft Teamsis a popular choice with companies that rely on advanced collaboration tools. The application’s standard communication features enable co-workers to engage in video calls, chat in instant messaging forums and connect through the video conferencing feature in Skype for Business.
For some firms, Microsoft Teams could more or less effectively replace your traditional telephony system. However, there are some notable limitations with the communication features in Teams. The gaps are filled with Microsoft Business Voice.
The new-generation VoIP telephony solution essentially improves efficiency by providing 360 VoIP capability. It delivers a phone system that is completely cloud-based and seamlessly integrated with Microsoft 365 applications but enables you to connect to traditional landlines whilst retaining VoIP features.
Co-workers can connect from anywhere on any device; desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. Each user only needs one number across all these devices. All it takes are two clicks, one to select the person you want to call from your contacts list and another to buzz them by video or audio-only.
There are also more secure and reliable virtual calling options which aid collaboration; video/audio conference enhancements such as screen-sharing, and integration with existing software like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
The collaboration features are what makes Microsoft Teams an invaluable resource for businesses of all sizes. You can schedule online meetings, exchange ideas or chat to your colleagues, and brainstorm in a team chat from remote locations.
But if you need anything more, adding Microsoft Business Voice gives you the option.
Why Switch To A Microsoft Phone System
The Microsoft 365 phone system is Private Branch Exchange (PBX) but also enables users to make and receive external calls through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN).
If you’re not familiar with telephony networks, PBX allows you to make free online calls without complications or expensive equipment. PBX is entirely based in the cloud, so providing you have a reliable WiFi infrastructure, your staff can contact one another seamlessly without running up expensive phone bills.
PSTN is required for outside calls. You can still make calls from your computer via the Microsoft Phone System, but calls are redirected from the pre-paid cloud to telecom networks. Charges are called at local, national, international and mobile rates.
Therefore, calling a client in Japan on their mobile is going to be pretty expensive. PSTN calls, don’t forget, are paid on top of the £12 a month subscription you are paying for Microsoft Business Voice.
The most cost-effective way to connect with people overseas is to invite them to join Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. Anyone in your list of contacts is reachable through PBX.
By installing a Microsoft Phone System you can probably replace your existing on-premises telephony system. Employees that are working from home, travelling or working from a satellite office can also contact anyone in the company without using their personal phone credits.
In terms of efficiency and effectiveness, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) solutions is the best option available to businesses.
The Microsoft VoIP is as flexible and robust as you will need because it provides you with additional communication options that are not available with Teams.
Teams is fine for throwing ideas around, working in the same document in real-time or having a quick catch-up on chat. And if you need to discuss matters in greater detail, it’s easy to jump on a video call.
When co-workers are working in remote locations, Microsoft VoIP is arguably the best way to connect. It’s far less expensive and, with video capability, colleagues can see one another. Face-to-face conversations help to make business conversations more personable, animated and energetic.
The other key advantage with Microsoft VoIP is security. Encrypted cloud phone system provides a higher level of security anyway, but Microsoft 365 takes data security to another level thanks to a number of advanced cybersecurity features, namely Microsoft Defender, security centre and Secure Score.
Do You Really Need A Cloud Phone System for your Business?
It is evident that Microsoft 365 Business Voice could be advantageous for numerous businesses. However, it is not the best solution for every company.
First of all, outgoing calls on top of the subscription fee can bump up the cost. You could end up paying more for Microsoft VoIP than you should have to. The point of installing a VoIP system in the first place is to reduce your telephony operating costs.
Secondly, Microsoft Teams alone can practically replace your entire business phone system. Unless you’re making outbound calls, there’s no need to pay an additional £12 a month to Microsoft in exchange for a few extra features you will barely use.
Having said that, managed cloud phone systems like Microsoft Business Voice will enhance Teams if you occasionally need to call clients on landlines and mobiles.
A cloud-based phone system is a good option for start-ups and companies that are expanding because you don’t have to shell out for physical phones that use standard PSTN infrastructures.
The only real risk with cloud phone systems is reliability. If you’re making a call over PSTN there is no guarantee the line quality will be clear. All it takes is one low-quality link for a network call to become patchy.
Stability is another issue. Ideally, your Wi-Fi needs a high-speed, low latency connection. If your existing internet provider does not consistently deliver super-fast download speeds, get in touch with one of our helpful technicians to ask how we can support you with that.
Micro Pro provides fast and reliable WiFi coverage that will stabilise your connection throughout your building and reduce annoying dropouts. We can even fix problematic devices.
Outsourced VOIP Services
Traditional phone systems are quickly becoming outdated, lack scalability and are an expensive investment most businesses could do without.
In 2021, the case for installing a VoIP is unquestionable. There’s no valid reason not to. The only question you should be asking is whether to invest in on-site VoIP installation or take advantage of a hosted VoIP service.
Installed VoIP systems run on your company’s existing IT cloud infrastructure and will also connect to the Public Switched Telephone Network. Additional charges may apply.
The advantage of switching to a PBX VoIP is to slash the cost of phone calls and avoid price hikes from those pesky telecoms companies. Cost savings are unbeatable. You can also customise your system to perform everything you need to ramp up communication channels throughout your business and VoIP systems are scalable so you can easily add or remove users at no extra cost.
Microsoft Business Voice satisfies all your telephony needs but can be more expensive if you still need to make calls over PSTN. Hosted VoIP providers can reduce these costs.
Also bear in mind that your IT staff will responsible for installing, managing and maintaining your VoIP system together with upgrading routers that support the system.
Whilst configuring VoIP systems is not beyond the realm of capability for experienced IT professionals, Microsoft Business Voice needs to be configured correctly to ensure it runs smoothly and does not leave vulnerable gateways open for hackers to exploit.
If you opt for managed VoIP services, our team of experienced IT professionals will install and configure your telephony system for you. We also manage your system remotely, check for potential errors to ensure you have maximum uptime and provide a reliable internet connection.
To wrap up the benefits of cloud VoIP phone systems:
- VoIP systems require minimal hardware investment
- Eliminate costly phone calls and price hikes by your telecoms service provider
- You can make audio and video calls across a number of devices
- Improve communication channels across the business and collaboration between team members
- Each user has a single number which can be taken on whatever device they have closest to hand at the time
- There is no need to purchase expensive private branch exchange (PBX) systems
- Users can make and receive calls internally for no extra cost and externally on a plan that best suits your business needs
- You can make calls from anywhere in the world – at no extra cost – to people in your contact list
- Microsoft Business Voice and Micro Pro VoIP services guarantee a 99.9% uptime
Outsourced VoIP services with Microsoft Business Voice, therefore, represents a cost-effective solution and minimises the risk of downtime. Our VoIP service is certainly less expensive than installing traditional phone systems and more reliable than telecom service providers.