Maintaining strong lines of communication — both internally and externally — is of great importance in the business world. Even as many exchanges have moved to email chains or even social media channels, the classic phone call remains the most useful tool for doing everything from negotiating a deal to casually catching up with a long-term client.
It also bears noting that many people, companies and areas still have limited access to (and/or interest in) the various forms of digital communication. There’s great simplicity and accessibility to a phone line that can’t yet be replicated through any other means.
The problem with this is that the procurement and arrangement of business-level telephony hardware will be a large CapEx investment and will require IT specialists, to implement what can be a complicated process. Providers of regular phone lines are falling behind the times and consequently offering services that don’t justify what they charge.
Enter cloud voice services. Logically progressing from VoIP services such as Skype, they provide cloud-based telephony that can connect conventional telephones to digital voice clients with ease — and Microsoft 365 Business Voice is taking this to the next level. In a time where working remotely is becoming a business necessity, having your main business phone line available on any device anywhere is a massive benefit that aids business continuity.
Why Microsoft 365 Business Voice?
This solution makes it easy for small and medium organizations to turn Microsoft Teams into a powerful and flexible telephone system. It’s a replacement for traditional telephony providers and in-house phone systems that can be difficult and costly to manage. Customers can set up both toll and toll-free numbers, call menus to help callers get to the right department, audio conferencing so they can host meetings with anyone and more. Users can even give people their own phone numbers so they can get calls directly.
Let’s take a look at how, detailing why it’s such a valuable service for your clients to invest in:
It handles everything through just one app
The primary reason why Microsoft 365 Business Voice is such a notable step up from previous voice systems is its tight integration with Microsoft Teams — the workplace communication tool that surpassed 20 million daily active users in 2019. Anyone with access to an Office 365 subscription featuring Teams can leverage this, with an agreed calling plan, regardless of the type of device they’re using. This massively simplifies things.
In essence, it constitutes a wide-reaching voice communication solution, encompassing everything from old-fashioned phone calls to modern audio conferences while using a standardized set of contacts and call records. This cuts down on the common confusion of trying to get distinct systems and apps to work in combination.
It’s capable of potent natural language processing (NLP)
A typical downside of leaning heavily on voice conversation is that it’s significantly harder to log and analyze. A text chat, for instance, can be stored and reviewed at a glance, whereas the process of manually reviewing a phone conversation can take as long as the call itself. This is why there’s great value in having speech-to-text options.
Drawing from the power of the Azure cloud, Microsoft 365 Business Voice is capable of captioning, transcribing and/or translating everything from voicemails to audio conferences (and it can do it all live). Is it perfect? No, of course not, because human speech is exceptionally complex — but it’s an exceptional accompaniment, and makes calls much easier to deal with.
It provides remarkable scaling options
Aside from the regular monthly cost of the Microsoft 365 Business Voice add-on, the cost of using it will scale with how much it’s used. This confers two major benefits: it can actually be markedly cheaper to use than it would be to have a conventional PBX system installed, and it can neatly accommodate fluctuations in the level of demand.
Note that a single meeting can be virtually attended by up to 250 people, far outstripping what could be achieved through older systems using now-outdated technology. And since Calling Plans (granting specific features and limitations to certain groups) can be adjusted directly within Teams settings, businesses don’t need to make requests to alter their phone plans: they can do everything internally with minimal fuss.
It slots neatly into the Microsoft ecosystem
Microsoft’s range of business solutions is already class-leading, and Microsoft 365 Business Voice makes a straightforward and powerful addition. Consider what it can bring to a sales team: with leads gathered through Dynamics 365, it can make it a breeze to reach out to them over the phone and log those exchanges alongside other outreach efforts. Factor in the advanced features we’ve just looked at, and you have an unprecedented level of communication optimization.
Wrapping up, the addition of Microsoft 365 Business Voice provides yet another compelling reason for businesses to choose Microsoft systems, and would make for a valuable addition for any company already using a business-level tier of Office 365. It’s the missing piece of the communications puzzle, lifting the cohesion even further.
How to get Microsoft 365 Business Voice?
Business Voice does all of this by wrapping up Microsoft 365 Phone System features into a single and easy-to-manage bundle. You don’t need to worry about choosing the right plan or feature for your customers, they’re all there and set up for you. Because Phone System is a part of Teams, users can turn any PC, Mac, or mobile device, into a phone that can use the Business Voice phone number.
Is Business Voice for my customers?
Business Voice is right for organizations that have 300 or fewer people and are using one of the following Microsoft 365 subscriptions:
- Office 365 Business Essentials
- Office 365 Business Premium
- Office 365 E1
- Office 365 E3
- Office 365 F1
- Microsoft 365 A1
- Microsoft 365 A3
- Microsoft 365 E3
- Microsoft 365 Business
Business Voice is currently available in Canada and the United Kingdom. More countries and regions will become available in 2020.