These days, most of our messages are delivered via the internet: from emails to texts, calls and voice memos sent via free services like Messenger and WhatsApp, there’s no longer a need to worry about your monthly text allowance since WiFi and 4G have irreversibly changed the way we communicate with each other. And why should business calls be any different?
In today’s blog post, we’re taking a look at how IP telephony – or more simply put, calls made via the internet – can support your business, drive down costs and generally simplify the day-to-day life in your company. We’ll also go over how VoIP (voice over internet protocol) works in Office 365.
What are telephony, VoIP and PBX?
Simply put, telephony refers to transmitting voice calls and voice data through IP networks – in other words, over the internet. Different telephony options have become increasingly popular in recent years due to advantages like competitive pricing and easy setup, but more on this later. For now, we’ll take a look at two common types of telephony: VoIP and PBX.
A VoIP (Voice over IP) setup is very simple: all you need is an internet connection and a computer or IP phone. Despite this, it can offer a complete service that takes care of all of your company’s calls, both internal and external.
PBX stands for Private Branch Exchange and it offers a private, company-wide phone network. A PBX can utilise various systems, including traditional, analogue phonecalls and VoIP to offer a complete solution. This means that you can have a physical phone line, but also leverage the benefits offered by telephony, such as free IP calls.
Because a PBX system is internal to your company and doesn’t have to rely on your internet connection, your call quality won’t be affected by external factors. A traditional PBX is run on your business premises using your own hardware. A typical setup will consist of a computer server, a control board and multiple lines connecting to the public system. A PBX that leverages VoIP technology, on the other hand, usually doesn’t need any additional hardware.
Benefits of using VoIP telephony for business
VoIP services are attractive to all kinds of companies, but small businesses especially can find great value in telephony due to its unique benefits. Alongside the typical calling features you’d expect – like call waiting and voicemail – you can find many extra features that offer value. Here are the six best ones:
1. It’s cheaper – You can usually make free calls using VoIP – international calls are typically also extremely cheap. There’s no need to pay for a line dedication like with traditional phone systems, and there’s usually just a single, small monthly payment to make.
2. It’s easy to set up – Because there’s no need for extra hardware with a VoIP system and they can be managed from your computer, they’re easy to set up and reconfigure without expert knowledge.
3. Scaling up is also easier – If your company is expanding quickly, you need a telephone system that can be easily scaled up to support your needs – and VoIP offers you just that. You can add new lines and numbers very easily without expert knowledge or calling in a specialist technician.
4. It supports remote working – Because VoIP services are cloud-based, it makes working from anywhere a breeze. Your staff can make and answer calls using their computer and a headset wherever they are, as long as there’s an internet connection.
5. It’s flexible and additional features make your life easier – You can set up your VoIP system to automatically transfer calls to another number based on specific conditions like the day, time and the number of the caller. You can also have voice mails automatically transcribed into text.
6. Your customers get a reply quickly – Since you can automatically transfer calls to other team members and work from anywhere using VoIP, you can serve your customers quickly and around the clock. This raises customer satisfaction and your business reputation – both are essential for a successful company.
Using telephony with Office 365
Telephony is also available for Office 365. Currently, Office 365 VoIP calls are delivered through Skype for Business. However, Skype for Business is currently being phased out, with VoIP functionalities currently being integrated into Microsoft Teams. Here’s what you can expect from Office 365’s VoIP service.
Apart from traditional voice calls, you can also easily add video or file sharing to any VoIP call made through Office 365. You can also sign up for notifications for other team members’ availability take calls and answer calls on their behalf. All calls are recorded in your call history, making it easy to refer back to any conversation after the fact to offer the best possible experience for your clients and business partners.
Meetings are also a breeze thanks to the AI functionalities Office 365’s VoIP service utilises: before a meeting, Teams will find you the relevant documents and information about participants to help you prepare. During the meeting, you can set Teams to record, transcribe and timestamp your conversation – so there’s no need for any of you to keep minutes!
Due to the software’s voice recognition capabilities, Teams can also accurately attribute remarks made to the right participants. After the meeting, you can add the recording and transcript to the relevant Teams Channel so that everyone in your team can review the information.
Why not check out some more weekly articles on business and IT strategy on our blog? We have a number of great articles on getting the most out of Office 365 products. To talk to our experts how to get started with VoIP, get in touch with us.