Microsoft Teams and the voice calling imperative

Cloud-based voice calls from a unified communications (UC) client your workers already use. Sounds obvious? Some companies still are not reaping the business and operational benefits of making voice calls from an app that your teams already have open on their desktops. And they should be.

The proliferation of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) apps has transformed the workplace in recent years, enabling unprecedented levels of productivity and flexibility. However, despite these advances, voice calling remains a cornerstone of effective business communication. While chat and social tools have become increasingly popular for interacting with customers, many still prefer the personal touch and clarity of voice calls. The importance of voice in business communications cannot be overstated, and it continues to play a critical role in our connected world.

So, while many consumers have readily embraced the ease and convenience of interacting with companies using chat or social tools, many would still rather engage using voice. Older consumers, for example, say they would rather make or receive voice calls from companies, and other consumers prefer a voice call depending on where they are at a particular moment. According to research, 91% of consumers say they prefer brands to give them a choice to call or message, indicating how important voice calling is to your UC&C mix. Similarly, if people commute to work in their cars, 69% of people prefer calls to messages. A further 53% prefer voice call interactions when they’re at home.

It is also worth noting that voice calling is still the primary communication channel for contact centers, with 74% of consumers saying they phoned a contact center in 2022. This trend has led to stronger interactions between a company's back-office functions and increased collaboration between UC and contact center solutions. With 270 million active users and 91% of Fortune 100 companies using it, Microsoft Teams is the dominant UC&C suite in the enterprise environment. But just 4% of Teams deployments are enabled for telephony. In short, Microsoft Teams is everywhere, but not for voice. And it really should be.

UC&C app challenges and the voice factor

The digital workplace presents both opportunities and challenges for enterprises. The workplace you offer can help you attract and retain the best, most talented workers. Younger generations of employees expect the latest collaboration and productivity tools by default. And while productivity remains a concern, it is being overcome: McKinsey found that 58% of companies reported improved productivity, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and diversity and inclusion from hybrid work models.

Shifting to cloud-based UC&C suites makes your workers’ jobs easier and enables simpler voice calling. They can contact customers or partners from within the app they are already using rather than the added time it takes to make a call via traditional PSTN. But some challenges remain.

Some companies have told us they experience “UC&C sprawl,” where particular business units, departments, or even satellite offices have forged ahead and adopted their own cloud-based UC&C solutions without consulting the rest of the organization. It is not surprising that this can happen when procurement has been local, and regulations are local, too.

This creates disparities between the UC&C tools used throughout the company, which in turn brings interoperability problems. Different UC&C solutions come with their own nuances around IM, sharing, calling and other aspects. So rather than enhancing productivity, it can drag productivity down and cause frustration in users and customers.

And there is a knock-on effect here when it comes to voice calling from within UC&C apps. Using different collaboration solutions throughout your company, whether Microsoft Teams, Slack, Webex, or Zoom, comes with different calling plans, persistent chat, and meeting solutions. It is not ideal.

What should you do about it?

Perhaps most importantly, a change in company culture helps and a shift to a consolidated approach, where you use one global, managed, cloud-based UC&C platform. And for the majority of companies who lack in-house skills to do this, it is advisable to work with a specialist partner who has the knowledge and experience to ensure you get UC&C right.

Microsoft Teams with voice calling can give you the perfect solution to power hybrid work models. By combining external calling seamlessly with Microsoft’s UC&C platform, you get a comprehensive and cost-effective way to manage all your calls and communications easily and all in one place. It gives you all the tools you need to keep customers happy, engaged and coming back.

Orange recently developed our Microsoft Teams telephony offering to give our customers a more fully rounded UC&C solution. This has focused on moving to the cloud to enable unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and incorporates understanding and overcoming local regulatory issues and specific technology complexities. For example, many companies do not know that data storage requirements vary by country: in India, for example, you need to store CDR records for two years within India’s borders. Teams only stores CDR for 28 days, and then it is gone. So, we developed an external workaround that would benefit companies operating in India, which is home to many international contact centers.

We’ve focused on helping customers benefit fully from their Teams apps and developed our consulting and design work to help companies move from legacy telephony systems to SIP by porting numbers. We also work with legacy telecom companies on program management, establishing schedules for when to move to SIP to ensure it’s not disruptive during the working day. We give our customers a self-care portal that empowers them to do simple provisioning while we take care of the back-end management, local regulatory issues, and things like direct routing and session border controllers. It is an inclusive approach to Microsoft Teams plus voice that we think gives companies the cloud-based UC&C tools they need to keep customers and employees happy.

To read further about how Orange helps companies reap the benefits of the digital workplace to enable hybrid working and much more, click here.

Brad Lewis
Brad Lewis

Brad has been in the collaboration space for over 16 years at Orange Business. His main focus is solving customers' business challenges with innovative Orange collaboration and contact center solutions. In his spare time, Brad enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family.