Oct 16 2023
Digital Workspace

Microsoft Calling Plans: What Are They and How Do They Differ?

Microsoft calling plans help companies connect. Here’s a look at the types of plans available, how they differ and how businesses can find their best fit.

Phone calls remain the preferred method of contact for 42 percent of customers. Digital channels aren’t far behind at 38 percent, but the data shows that even with the accessibility of text, social media, and other online options, people still prefer speaking directly to staff and agents.

For companies, this points to the need for calling plans that enable both B2C and B2B connections. Whether your organization uses call center agents to answer basic questions or in-house receptionists to direct incoming calls, the right calling plan powers cost-effective business communications.

There are various Microsoft calling plans, each with distinct features to meet business needs. Here’s what IT small business leaders need to know:

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What Are the Microsoft Calling Plans?

Microsoft Teams offers three broad calling options: Microsoft Teams Phone Calling Plans, Microsoft Teams Direct Routing and Microsoft Teams Operator Connect.

  • Phone Calling Plans. These are the most basic type of plans. They offer cloud-based phone services that support both domestic and international calling. In addition, businesses can access meeting chats and collaboration and productivity apps.
  • Direct Routing. Direct Routing is managed through PowerShell and includes a software-based attendant console for receptionists, which allows drag-and-drop call transfers across home and business offices nationwide.
  • Operator Connect. This plan debuted in 2023 and is entirely managed through the Microsoft Azure All features are centralized out of Teams, including a comprehensive administration center. This option offers the highest level of customization, collaboration, and customer experience.

DIG DEEPER: Find out how small businesses can improve their calling plans.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each Microsoft Calling Plan?

Finding the calling plan to best fit your needs starts with researching the pros and cons of each type based on your business goals.

With the Phone Calling plan, users benefit from cloud-based Teams integration, however, it’s limited in terms of customization and customer experience.

Direct Routing offers both increased control and improved functionality. Its attendant console lets receptionists quickly transfer calls via a single screen, and it enables companies to use any telephone provider. However, costs can be higher with Direct Routing than with the regular Calling Plans.

Operator Connect is the most recent offering. Its Azure-based console lets companies use existing phone numbers and make the most of cloud-based resources such as the Teams-connected administrative center. But keep in mind, this in-depth functionality may not be necessary for every small business.

READ MORE: Learn how to improve your small business meeting room technology.

How to Choose the Right Microsoft Calling Plan

Recent market data shows an increasing preference for Direct Routing and Operator Connect options: Just 13 percent of companies are using the basic Phone Calling Plan, while 87 percent have opted for either Direct Routing.

These market trends are helpful, but companies should evaluate their current workflows and business needs to find the calling system that is right for them. If companies find that existing systems provide enough functionality, the move to more customizable solutions may not be cost-effective. But if features such as attendant consoles are a priority, then consider Direct Routing.

Businesses can also work with a trusted partner to deploy multiple plans for different business units and create a tailor-made communication solution.

And for IT leaders looking to reuse their existing phone systems with new calling features, Microsoft offers a gateway plan that helps reduce the costs of IT asset disposal.

The bottom line is that a quality calling plan can help small businesses retain close relationships with their customers and navigate evolving markets.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on X (formerly Twitter).


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