Skype as Your Phone System
Slowly but surely, the maturation of Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX is occurring. Later in 2017 when Auto Attendant and Cal Queues graduate from Preview, Cloud PBX will be competing to be your phone system. Cloud PBX is included in the Office 365 E5 plan and can be added to the Office 365 E1 and E3 plans. Skype for Business Online PSTN Calling adds local, long distance, and international calling to your Cloud PBX service.
The combination of Cloud PBX and PSTN calling enables the following features in your Office 365 Skype for Business apps and phones:
- Local phone numbers
- Call answer, initiate, forward, simultaneous ring, delegation, history, DND, music on hold, team calling, voicemail and more
- See Cloud PBX Features for more details
Adding Cloud PBX and PSTN Calling to existing Office 365 subscriptions is very affordable. The best value is the Office 365 E5 subscription, which includes Cloud PBX. The Cloud PBX subscription can also be added to Office 365 E3 and E1 subscriptions. PSTN Calling is a stand-alone subscription. Below is a pricing chart of these subscriptions.
Obtaining Phone Numbers
I’m currently using Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX for all business calls, it was easy to obtain a local phone number from the Skype for Business Admin Center in the Office 365 Admin Center. The steps in the Skype for Business Admin Center to obtain a phone number are very straightforward, it took me only a few minutes to provision a local phone number for my Office 365 account.
You can also port numbers to Cloud PBX, I will cover this in a future article.
Auto Attendant and Call Queues Routing
Auto Attendant provides the classic, “Thank you for calling XYZ Company…” and is typically the initial entry point into your company for callers. Auto Attendant acts as an automated operator that can redirect calls based on business hours, direct callers to address book, and more. The most recent Auto Attendant slide deck provides deeper insight into current features.
Call Queues accepts incoming calls and can redirect callers to a group of personnel, be configured with customized greetings, play hold music, and reroute calls based on certain rules (ex. all agents are busy). The most recent Call Queues slide deck contains additional information on these features.
With the basic phone features working well (calling, forwarding, voicemail, etc.), configuring Auto Attendant and Call Queues are our next steps. In addition, porting numbers to Cloud PBX is also on our roadmap. Stay tuned for the next update on our progress with Skype for Business Online Cloud PBX.
Contact FMT Consultants in the form below to learn more about Skype for Business, including the ability to obtain Skype for Business via our Tier 1 status as a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider. If you are interested in conferencing with Skype, please see my blog on Skype for Business Conferencing.