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What is Microsoft Teams Phone?

Microsoft Teams Phone
(Image credit: Microsoft)

More and more users will have become familiar with Microsoft Teams over the past year or so, using the platform to boost productivity and collaborate with colleagues in the era of remote or hybrid working. The video conferencing tool has built up a huge following, with users able to enjoy screen sharing, chat functionality, shared video files, and much more.

But while Microsoft Teams has become pretty well known, far fewer people will be aware of the Microsoft Teams Phone add-on. This gives users the ability to make and receive calls directly in Microsoft Teams. In essence, it integrates Teams with more traditional VoIP functionality, so users can stay connected using their computer, tablet, mobile device, or desk phone. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Microsoft Teams Phone. 

Features

Microsoft Teams Phone styles itself as an all-in-one app that enables rich, reliable, and secure calling. As such, its list of features bear a close resemblance to those that are found accompanying VoIP solutions, rather than those that regular Teams users will be familiar with. 

Conferencing is available, so businesses can get all their employees together even when they are working remotely using either enterprise voice or video call conferencing functionality. There’s also a call management feature that gives companies better control over their cloud telephony. They can easily manage their comms by utilizing do not disturb, reverse number lookup, voicemail, and delegation functionality. Continuing the feature list, Microsoft Teams Phone boasts direct routing so individuals can use their own telecom provider and make calls using their existing phone provider. 

Larger organizations or those that deal with a heavy volume of calls, meanwhile, are bound to appreciate the contact center integration that comes with Microsoft Teams Phone. This allows firms to integrate Microsoft Teams business voice calling with their contact center software. It’s a great way of accessing all your communication needs through a single app, cutting down on complexity. 

And finally, Microsoft Teams Phone comes with an auto-attendant, which can ensure that calls aren’t missed and adds a professional touch to your communication output. Microsoft Teams Phone lets users set parameters based on their time zone, language, or availability for answering and routing calls automatically. There’s no need to miss an important call or end up with frustrated customers that can’t reach you.

Plans and pricing

There are two main options concerning pricing plans for Microsoft Teams Phone. The cheaper option, Microsoft 365 Business Voice, costs $15 per user per month (although there is the option of a one-month free trial). Subscribers to this plan receive access to a cloud-based phone system boasting advanced features like call transfer, multilevel auto attendants, and call queues.

They’ll also get a domestic calling plan with 3,000 minutes per user, per month for companies based in the US and Canada. There’s dial-in audio conferencing for up to 250 people per meeting, and the option of calling from anywhere, on any device through the Microsoft Teams app on desktop, mobile, web, and desk phones.

Businesses that have experienced some teething problems when upgrading their telephone systems will be reassured by the fact that Microsoft 365 Business Voice comes with 24/7 support. Of course, Business Voice does also require that users already have a Microsoft 365 subscription, so the total price being paid for the solution is perhaps not as cheap as it initially appears. 

The other price plan, Microsoft 365 E5, is better suited to enterprise customers and comes in at a substantially more expensive $57.00 per user per month. For that price, Microsoft 365 E5 users gain PBX capabilities, such as call control in the cloud with Microsoft Teams. Audio conferencing for up to 300 phone attendees is another great benefit, as is access to numerous apps, including Windows 11 Enterprise, Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, Office mobile apps, and Office for the web, Outlook, and Exchange.

Again, the pricing for Microsoft 365 E5 is not as simple as it first looks. Enterprises that are already paying for Microsoft 365 E1 or E3 may be able to upgrade to E5 for a discounted price. They should contact their Microsoft sales rep to get a concrete answer regarding how much they could save. 

E5 may not be suitable for many organizations - and it’s probably only worthwhile for the biggest enterprises. If you’re in that boat, however, you’ll certainly receive some powerful communication features for your money. In addition to the voice capabilities, they also get access to Power BI functionality that helps firms access top-level analytics solutions that should let them derive significant business value.

How other customers are using it

Microsoft is happy to share a few details regarding how some of its customers are using Microsoft Teams Phone. For example, technology firm Arrow Electronics uses Microsoft Teams Phone to support communication for its 20,000 employees. The company has announced some excellent results leveraging its Microsoft 365 E5 subscription to deliver seamless cross-department collaboration. 

Arrow uses Teams to provide a unified communication experience. The company benefits from the fact that many of its employees were already using Teams before the solution was formally adopted. Since it started using Teams, including Teams Phone, Arrow has greatly reduced its travel expenses and boosted its ROI.

Another company to have success with Microsoft Teams Phone is consulting firm Accenture. Along with individual Teams Phone deployments, Accenture migrated more than 3,000 Polycom phones that were situated in meeting rooms and on employee desks to Teams.

One of the great things about Microsoft Teams is the sheer range of services that it can cover - it’s a lot more than just a video conferencing platform. For any company that needs some extra telephony features, Microsoft Teams Phone demonstrates that Teams can fulfil that role too.