December 1, 2020
4 mins read

Integrating VoIP Phone Services in Microsoft Teams. Work from #Anywhere.

December 1, 2020
4 mins read
Girish Dharmaraj Girish Dharmaraj
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If there is one thing the Coronavirus has made clear about the future of work, it is that we need to be able to adapt to flexible and remote working. It is now clearer than ever that companies need to move their telephony systems into the cloud in order to facilitate this.    

Expanding upon the capabilities of Microsoft Teams will be key to gaining an edge over your competition in the coming years. Adding voice services allows you to utilise the cloud to support and accelerate your communications.   

Adding voice services to Microsoft Teams

So, suppose your company is trying to streamline collaboration and transition voice communications to the cloud…

How can they go about this? How can they begin to integrate their voice communications in Microsoft Teams?     

There are two main ways to handle PSTN calls in Microsoft Teams- first, through calling plans and second, through direct routing.    

1. Microsoft 365 phone system

Microsoft’s cloud telephony solution provides access to a calling plan in 13 countries. To set this up, there is a cost per month, but you must pay the same per employee no matter what the specific needs… It is also more expensive in the APAC region.     

What’s more, the limitations of this option become clear when companies have complex routing needs. It is difficult to seamlessly transfer calls between many different departments using Microsoft’s calling plan or keep your numbers without porting them.    

2. Direct routing approach

While the Microsoft 365 phone system addresses basic demands for businesses that operate locally, customers with more advanced routing needs will find that direct routing is preferable. Direct routing allows you to access the worldwide public switched telephone network.    

Direct routing fully embeds telephony inside the Microsoft Teams app through use of a cloud vendor like Toku. Direct routing allows you to connect a Session Border Controller (SBC) to the Microsoft Phone System for added versatility and functionality. Users should experience little disruption on the front end and be able to keep their phone numbers.     

If your company are looking to set up more complex call routing or begin a transition to the cloud whilst still utilising on-premises equipment, you should use a direct routing approach.    

Toku provides direct routing with no need for a separate SBC and no downtime!   

What’s the best approach for you?

As with anything, the best decision will be different for each business. There are a number of things to take into consideration:     

1. Telephony coverage

With the move to remote working, it becomes more important than ever to keep communications within one place. Not only does this save time and improve employee satisfaction, but it results in a more cohesive, more structured business strategy. Disruptions to work can lead to a dip in productivity and should be minimised. Above all, it just makes sense to call, message and video chat from a single platform.     

An early adopter of Toku solutions notes a drastic improvement in efficiency from having all processes on a single platform. They found that Microsoft Teams could not adequately meet their need to communicate with a huge number of agencies and individuals globally to secure the effective transportation of cargo. With Toku, whether the people they are contacting are on Teams or not and no matter where they are in the world, they can be easily contacted from the same platform within seconds. Their high access to phone numbers and improved responsiveness has significantly positively impacted on their working relationships.   

2. Setup complexity

While direct routing is a little more complicated to set up on the back end, it makes the lives of your users infinitely easier day to day. This also means less calls to the IT department!   

3. Training users

You might be wondering, as you would with any tech change, how much training users will need. The direct routing method requires no user training, since it is all integrated within Teams.   

4. Integration with call centre software

Whilst Microsoft 365 does not facilitate easy integration with call centre functionality, direct routing certainly does. It allows you to support ring groups and calling queues from within Teams as well as to access full analytics. If you have a contact centre, direct routing is the obvious approach to take.   

Work from anywhere is here to stay. Are your comms platforms integrated?

Research suggests that 72% of employees want to see a move to remote working after the pandemic is over. To retain and attract employees as well as cut costs on office spaces and supplies, companies have no choice but to adapt to this way of working.    

It’s important to bear in mind that Microsoft also offers no native voice integration with Salesforce, the largest CRM worldwide. The demands of manually making calls through Microsoft from Salesforce can be highly disruptive.    

Direct routing allows for a range of functions to be accessed easily and seamlessly- including the native use of features like ring groups, calling queues, call forwarding, and voicemail. However, it will also be slightly more expensive on a per user basis. It may not, therefore, be the best option for smaller businesses.   

The question to weigh up is how much you rely on a seamless user experience and how much easy access to these features would transform your business.

You’ll likely find that you in fact end up saving money since less calls are being made to the IT desk as they would be with the app bot… Employees can harness the seamless Teams experience for increased productivity, easily communicating both internally and externally, whilst the IT teams can focus on accelerating business.

Trying to integrate voice services into Microsoft Teams?

Toku provides the perfect way to integrate your PBX telephone plans with MS Teams.