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The way we work and communicate has changed. Small and medium businesses have changed with it—finding ways to adapt and keep business moving. For those businesses with on-premises phone systems, adapting has been especially challenging.
Some employees are forwarding their work numbers to their personal mobile phones. Some receptionists are receiving calls on the main business line but are unable to transfer. Some employees have asked their customers to use email instead of calling them.
This is hard to sustain, and businesses are looking for better ways to support remote work in the long run. Cloud phone solutions from a variety of vendors can support remote work, save costs, and simplify technology. A cloud phone system from Microsoft has the added benefit of integrating into Microsoft Teams for an all-in-one communication solution and is delivered from Microsoft’s reliable and trusted cloud. Let’s explore how Microsoft 365 Business Voice, a phone system specifically designed for businesses with 1-300 employees, can help your business thrive.
The rapid need to work remotely has impacted businesses differently. Businesses with cloud-based phone systems have transitioned relatively smoothly. The main business line continues to point customers to an auto attendant or receptionist, and calls are transferred appropriately. Employees continue to answer and make calls from their computers and mobile phones with some bringing their desk phones and headsets home.
For those not set up with a cloud-based phone system, implementing Business Voice can help your business continue to make and receive phone calls from anywhere, on any device. The best part is, it is built in Microsoft Teams, so you have all-in-one communication solution with calling, meetings, and chat in a single application.
“The flexibility that Microsoft 365 Business Voice brings to remote working has been a game-changer.” - Head of IT services, manufacturing company
Phone calls can be made on your computer or mobile phone within the Teams app. You can add a headset or a desk phone for a more complete setup. To keep business functioning like it did, you can choose to keep your existing phone numbers. Business Voice also includes audio conferencing so your customers and vendors can join Teams meetings through a dial-in number.
Technology is essential for small and medium businesses to survive. At a time like this, technology needs to do more than create a return on an investment, it must also reduce costs. In a recent study by Forrester Consulting, three SMBs had saved over 30% moving to Business Voice from their prior solutions. Business Voice eliminated PBX maintenance costs which saved thousands of dollars. Support was cut in half. And future on-premises PBX upgrades were avoided. Some businesses even reduced costs reimbursing mobile phones.
“Previously people would expense phone calls from their mobiles, and there were a lot of mobile-to-mobile calls. Now people use the app and there are no more expenses coming in.” – Operations director, IT services company
On average SMBs use three to five different communication tools. Business Voice and Microsoft 365 subscriptions help consolidate tools to further reduce costs. And they provide predictable, straightforward pricing with one low monthly price.
Many businesses are looking at how they can streamline operations. Some are simplifying their technology – both for employees to use and for IT staff to manage. Business Voice enables employees to have a consistent Teams experience across devices through calling, meetings, and chat. Plus, there is one login across Microsoft 365 services.
“Integration of Business Voice into the whole Microsoft ecosystem is going to be the biggest benefit.” – Head of IT services, manufacturing
Integrating Business Voice in Microsoft 365 centralizes setup and management in the same admin portal as the rest of the Microsoft 365 services. You can ensure your business runs smoothly by rolling out updates, monitoring usage, and troubleshooting issues from anywhere. Because the service is delivered from Microsoft’s cloud, your phone system is secure and scalable around the world.
How to get started with Business Voice
Whether your business is getting by with workarounds like forwarding to mobile phones or if you have a VoIP system but are looking to save money and simplify, Business Voice can help.
To get started with a cloud-based phone system that’s built into Microsoft Teams, you can contact your IT services provider, or start a free one-month trial. A setup wizard will guide you through getting company and employee phone numbers in minutes, or you can port your existing numbers over. You can choose to get a calling plan from Microsoft or from a third-party provider.
If you have questions about cloud telephony or Business Voice, start a conversation in the SMB Tech Community. For more articles about using technology to enable remote work, visit our Small and Medium Business COVID-19 Resource Center.
Frequently asked questions
Q: Are there any pre-requisites to buy Microsoft 365 Business Voice?
A: Yes. Business Voice requires a base Microsoft 365 plan that includes Teams. It can be added onto the following plans for 1 to 300 users: Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, and Business Premium, F1, A3, E3, F3, and Office 365 A1, E1, A3, E3, and F3.
Q: Where is Business Voice available today?
A: Businesses operating in the US, UK, and Canada can purchase Business Voice. They have the choice to purchase with a calling plan from Microsoft or bring their own calling plan from a third-party provider.
Business Voice is also available in over 65 additional countries for businesses that bring their own calling plan from a third-party provider including: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
Q: Does Microsoft Teams include calling and meetings? What does Business Voice enable beyond that?
A: Microsoft Teams includes the ability to call other people by using the Teams app to call another person who us using the Teams app. It is easy for employees to call fellow employees when both are using the Teams app. This does not require a phone number.
Business Voice provides you with a phone number which means you can make and receive phone calls over the public switched telephone network (PSTN). This allows businesses to stay connected with external parties like customers and vendors in Teams.
Business Voice also includes audio conferencing which enables every Teams online meeting to include a dial-in number.
Business Voice provides a richer calling and meetings experience in Teams.
Q: What is the difference between Enterprise Voice and Business Voice?
A: Business Voice was specifically designed for small and medium businesses. It includes all the functionality in Enterprise Voice (phone system, audio conferencing, and domestic calling plan). Business Voice also includes enhancements designed for SMBs like a simplified setup and end-user first run experience.
There are two ways to purchase Business Voice: one combines phone system, audio conferencing, and domestic calling plan, the second combines phone system and audio conferencing. Enterprise Voice offers phone system, audio conferencing, and calling plans separately. Additionally, Office 365 E5 and Microsoft 365 include phone system and audio conferencing.
Lastly, Business Voice can be purchased for up to 300 users where Enterprise Voice can be purchased for an unlimited number of users.
We recommend Business Voice for businesses with less than 300 users, and Enterprise Voice for businesses with more than 300 users.