Move Over, Phones—Microsoft Teams Lifts Your Virtual Voice
Using Microsoft Teams for voice has been getting a lot of buzz lately. You may have heard of Microsoft Teams, but many are still discovering its full breadth of capabilities, from its call functions to collaboration tools for managing virtual teams. Companies can use Teams to effectively eliminate the need for a separate phone system.
The team at Integrated Communications strives to bring its customers the latest technologies available and finds Microsoft Teams to be a remote work solution ahead of its class. With businesses operating in the midst of a global crisis, teams are working remotely now more than ever. By taking advantage of Teams’ call features, businesses are better optimized to meet and sustain the communication needs that come with the transition to remote work.
The platform’s tools can work wonders to boost your team’s management, collaboration, and communication capacity. While Teams is a chat-based workspace—bringing individual collaborators together to communicate and share ideas—its lesser-known voice features help meet the broader communications needs of your business. Microsoft Teams voice solutions allow businesses to:
- Use a network completely optimized for voice
- Leverage preferred rates
- Choose the plans that work best for you
- Tap into the security of the Microsoft Cloud through direct routing
- Boost the capabilities of other apps you use to communicate, like Skype
- Feel the total support of a client services team to guide you through implementation, adoption, and training
Microsoft Teams can be helpful when working with people from various departments or projects. Multiple team members can take charge of meetings, structuring the team so that it’s highly efficient.
Get Started with Teams’ Call Features
Microsoft Teams has become an indispensable tool for businesses worldwide amid the coronavirus pandemic. A great appeal lies in its integration with Microsoft Office 365 and product tools like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. All the product tools can be accessed in one place, making it a seamless, all-in-one suite for your business.
- If you already have a Microsoft Office 365 license, consider taking advantage of Microsoft Teams, the platform giant’s virtual meeting product. An all-in-one set of products available at no extra cost for existing Microsoft Office 365 licensed users, Microsoft Teams fully integrates with various other services outside its own products including SharePoint, Yammer, and Exchange.
- If you don’t have a license, try it on for size. Microsoft also offers a free version of Microsoft Teams that requires only an email address for simple sign up and download. If you don’t have an Office 365 license, the free version still offers unlimited chat messages and search, video and audio calls, and file and screen sharing.
Integrated Communications is your one-stop-shop for direction and assistance, with a history of serving telecommunication needs of businesses with both hosted phone systems and WAN connections. Our partnerships give us deep insight into the range of possibilities, and your best options, for hosted phone systems and integrations.
Regardless of what type of work your business does, contact the Integrated Communications team to get started with Microsoft Teams to keep your people connected and productive while they’re working from home.
Phone Systems For Small Business: Minneapolis Telecommunication
Integrated Communications strives to bring connectivity and optimization to phone systems for small business in Minneapolis and beyond. We serve the greater Twin Cities area, supplying the most capable local, long distance, conferencing and business phone systems in Minnesota. Our customer service reputation is unmatched, and with a 98 percent client retention rate, we will guarantee your satisfaction with our proven process. Read on to see how our free consulting services will improve your Minneapolis small business telecommunication issues.
Locally Focused – Nationally Recognized
When you partner with Integrated Communications, your small business receives over two decades of expertise in the communications industry. On top of that, you will be paired with a national network provider; relationships we have developed over several years so we can give our clients the most network options possible. Rest assured that when we take on a project, we will provide you with unbiased consulting to best serve your company’s interests.
We serve all cities and suburbs in the greater Minneapolis area, continuing our mission of working with small businesses and commercial entities alike. In Golden Valley, we serve small business telecommunications by positioning ourselves as the best source of local, long distance and conferencing business phone solutions.
Over the past 5 years, we have seen a shift from hardware-based phone platforms to software-based phone systems. While Integrated Communications still hosts both of these, the trend is continuing, making installation, service and upkeep much easier – while also saving you a lot of money. Whether or not you will need one platform or the other depends on your business’ wants and needs, but we guarantee that our recommendation will be finely attuned to meet both of these for you.
Phone Systems For Small Business Minneapolis
Integrated Communications prides itself on serving your small business with distinguished telecommunication services. Our phone systems for small business Minneapolis and in the encompassing Twin Cities Area will cure all the connectivity issues you are facing. Call us locally at (763) 201-8000 for a free consultation in optimization solutions today.
Twin Cities Phone Systems: Connect With Those Who Matter
Integrated Communications cares about one thing – connections. We’re experts in connecting the people, communities and businesses of the Twin Cities through telecommunication services. We’ll help you setup phone systems and VoIP services to increase efficiency and lower costs with the best technology available.
We’re also experts in connecting with our customers. We’ll be there for you through every step of the installation process and for subsequent contract renewals. We supply our phone system products throughout the Twin Cities suburbs and strive to address the needs of each of our clients in a hurry, but with a smile.
We offer four different access types to deliver our VoIP services – and either hardware-based or software-based phone systems to our customers. From easy to complex, from low-cost to high-end and everything in between, we have access to countless products and services. We will make our recommendations based on your connectivity and affordability needs. And with 20+ years in the business, we guarantee those recommendations will be spot-on
Throughout Lakeville, Integrated Communications provides optimized VoIP services and business phone systems to several companies throughout the area. If you’re in need of a new system, an update to an old one or if you’re unsure about what exactly you need – we will offer our free consulting services to figure it out.
We also serve those small businesses in Woodbury who are looking to set up conferencing services. Integrated Com has teamed up with a national leader in conferencing solutions – Dialogue – to bring you the luxuries of constant connectivity to your fingertips. Our partnership is built on trust and methods proven to improve your phone system abilities and of course, save you some cash.
We provide expert recommendations when hooking up your Twin Cities phone systems. With over two decades in the industry, we will connect you locally or long distance, we will hook up one phone or 100. Whatever your phone system needs are, call Integrated Communications today to get started with a solution.
Minneapolis Phone Systems: Calling All Businesses To Optimize Now
At Integrated Communications, we provide industry-leading phone system services throughout Minneapolis and the surrounding areas. We adapt strongly to emerging technology. We strive to bring you products that will outperform and outlast our competitors. If you’re considering updating your current business phone system or installing your first, we’re guessing you have some questions. Let us take it from here.
Integrated Communications has been offering Minneapolis phone systems, Internet services and conferencing solutions to local businesses for more than 20 years. A partnership with us means that you will receive not only those 20+ years of expertise, but also strong ties to local and national network providers. Our relationship with carriers and vendors has valuably progressed over the past two decades, allowing us to provide our clients throughout the greater Minneapolis area with an unbiased variety of network solutions for their business phone system needs.
Like we said, we adapt–strongly. Over the past half decade or so, Minneapolis phone systems have started moving from a traditional hardware-based platform, to a software-based system. Both traditional PBX platforms are hardware and software based, but emerging today are hosted platforms that make it easier to service, install and update. We offer both and will hook you up with the most appropriate system for you.
We tailor your phone system to your business’ needs and goals. By checking out your specific connectivity demands, how many employees you have and our product options, we’ll consult you on vendor choice, order your services, proactively coordinate installs and partner with you throughout the contract and its subsequent renewals.
Integrated Communications will provide you with the preeminent telecommunication services we have built a nearly-flawless reputation upon. Visit our areas served page to see the Twin Cities area locations we directly provide Internet, VoIP and phone system support to. Or, give us a call locally at (763) 201-8000 to for a free consultation in telecom solutions today.
Phone Systems as Your Company’s First Impression
We’re taught early in life the importance of first impressions. Most have learned the value of a smile and eye contact in endearing you to someone you first meet. We have heard how polished shoes and a firm handshake can help shape that first impression. We know that bad first impressions are difficult to change, while good first impressions can move a relationship along quickly.
In your business, you may have taken the time to create appropriate signage and a welcoming entranceway to welcome guests and create that great first impression. You may even invest in small details like quality raised lettering business cards, and fine paper letterhead.
What you may not have given much thought about is something that is at the front line of your business. It serves as the first impression for many who contact your business.
We are talking about business phone systems.
Phone systems are the gateway for many considering using your products and services. How that system funnels prospects and customers says a lot about your small or large business. Yet many base that decision on price, rather than customer experience and effectiveness.
We’ve all had those nightmare experiences dealing with companies whose systems are syrupy slow, cumbersome, and inefficient. Although frustrating, it is almost understandable for companies outsourcing their call centers overseas. But sadly, right here in the Minneapolis and Twin Cities area, there are otherwise professional organizations that have poorly designed phone systems.
If you haven’t reviewed how your incoming calls are handled and the importance of making a great first impression, contact us. Technology continues to improve the ability to enhance your customer’s, and your potential customer’s experience. Let’s get together and talk about the impact your phone system has as your company’s first impression.
Let’s make sure your phone system has the equivalent of a firm handshake.
How We Handled a Business Emergency: Disaster Recovery
The usual even-flow of office dynamics at Integrated Communications was no different yesterday, September 4th, than every other day at the small business in Golden Valley, MN. Kip and Thalina headed-out around 9:30 am to meet a client, Sandy shuffled through the morning mail, Mary was hard at work in the front of the office, and Nate, Nick, and Setara were wrapped-up in some calls in the three back offices within close proximity to our D-Mark. All was silent, all was still for a brief moment in telecom history, when a POP emanated from our electrical room, followed by heavy drilling noises. “What was that”, Nick yelled. “I’m not sure; is someone drilling”, Setara questioned. Thankfully Sandy made her way to the back of the office building to give Nick some mail, and that’s when she noticed the fire.
Our morning was filled with chaos, fire-fighters, a local news crew and a disaster recovery plan as our office encountered a small disaster; an electrical fire broke-out in our back electrical room.
How did we handle the disaster at our office?
Besides a crazed pregnant lady running panicked out of the building, the employees at Integrated were ready to contain the disaster, and start implementing a solution.
- Get everyone out of the building and to safety – We evacuated the building and stood a good distance away from the perimeter of our office
- Call 9-11 – The police were informed of the fire and the location of our building ASAP (further on this topic will be discussed)
- Extinguish Fire? – It was possible for our two shining heroes at Integrated (Nick and Nate) to locate a fire extinguisher and put the fire out, and then exit the building to get to safety while public safety officials arrived
- Notify Boss – Although Kip was on his way to meet with a client, we called him immediately to inform him of the situation ensuing at Integrated
- Speak with Public Safety Officials – After a few fire trucks arrived and the men and women of the Golden Valley Fire Department did their diligence in assessing the disaster, we spoke with the fire-Chief and received information on what may have occurred, and the proper steps to take now that the fire has been terminated.
- Contact proper channels – Insurance, Electrician, Clean-up Crew, and our folk at A Couple of Gurus (IT Company in MN) were called within minutes of the incident to be informed and to gear-up in an effort to help us solve any problems that may have occurred. (Thankfully, A Couple of Gurus accommodated our server worries and backed-up our entire system within a few hours of the fire).
- Go to lunch to debrief and come-up with a company game plan – After the event took place, and the proper people were notified, we ventured out to Doolittle’s for a quick lunch and company chat about what our next steps will be. While the office was to be cleaned and fumigated that night and the following day, we decided it was safer for the employees’ health to work from home until Friday (or further notice of safety has been recommended).
A HUGE piece of our disaster recovery plan was knowing who to call in case of an emergency. All of our bases were covered, and the proper people were informed of our situation within a moment’s notice. Great partnerships and equipment also hold value at a time when disaster strikes: Dave Johnson with Velocity Telephone graciously offered office space if necessary until our office and system were cleared for work…
And, on that note, the use of our VOIP phone system through Velocity Telephone came in handy in several ways on the day we needed it most. When the fire started, our phone lines were in flames as well – fortunately, with our VOIP phone system we were able to dial out to 9-11 without operating phone lines. Furthermore, our plug-and-play VOIP phone system made the capability of our employees working from home extremely feasible! Anywhere there is Internet, we are able to plug in our office phones and work – what a great feeling.
**Make sure your company is prepared for a disaster, no matter how big or small the event may be
And now for some pictures…
Homegrown Telecom: Business Internet MN
Near and far our toys and our cars are shipped and sold to us from out-of-State and out-of-Country. While this has been great for the consumer wishing to lower their overall spend, it isn’t great for the consumer who incurs problems and needs to get a hold of the manufacturer or have their issues solved in a timely fashion. Telecom, IT, and other technology facets, these days, seem to be no different; businesses big and small are working with carriers and vendors who are “housed” in another area.
Is this a problem?
Well, as these carriers grow and expand into uncharted territories, their appreciation and attentiveness for their clients depletes significantly. Calls being made by a client to their provider are being handled outside of the local sector and businesses are starting to experience extreme down-times as they wait for their connectivity issues and/or business needs to be handled – oftentimes incurring endless “on-hold” hours.
How can this be avoided?
Stay homegrown! Many businesses are beginning to turn back to their local providers and/or agents (such as business internet MN master-agent Integrated Communications) to handle their business’ services and voice and data needs. IT companies such as Velocity Tech Solutions are seeing the change and it’s becoming a huge factor for many local and multi-site businesses. Anne Tarantino of Velocity Tech Solutions (2013) notes, “Big businesses are competitive and are taking many local vendors out of the market; but, things are starting to shift back towards the use of local vendors as people realize the satisfaction, customer service, and timeliness with big businesses just isn’t there”.
If you are a business looking to ensure your needs are met and issues are being handled instantly, then you need to go homegrown. Integrated Communications has partnered with many local voice and data carriers, as well as phone and IT vendors to ensure your business has the proper resources just around the block. Call us at 763-443-7009 for questions regarding our homegrown style of business and the partners we love.
*Velocity Tech Solutions is a partner IT vendor of Integrated Communications – located out of Spring Lake Park, MN
“Keeping-up” with Integrated Communications (POST#1)
It looks as though summer is coming to an end soon enough. How do we Minnesotan’s measure this? Easy, the MN STATE FAIR! That’s right folks, the great Minnesota get-together commences this weekend, and so, in spite of our beloved summer winding down, we would like to reminisce about our summertime adventures…
This summer at the office:
– We switched over to a new web-hosting group and are THRILLED to be receiving less spam in our inbox – hallelujah.
– Our new plasma television arrived for our conference room, and we are excited to make our company meetings, carrier lunch and learns, etc… much more visually appealing and technologically advanced.
– Integrated Communications got our website off and running, and are working diligently on all things social media.
This summer outside the office:
– Thalina has appreciated a summer filled with twins, dog-sitting, Wisconsin dells and all things fun with her two awesome children! Thalina’s doggy-daycare endured a busy August, so far, with a total of 7 dogs at one time!!
– Sandy relished the company of her lovely granddaughter Zuzu who visited her and her husband, Bill from San Diego – this was the first time she’s come here all on her own! Sandy and Bill were thrilled (we even got to see Zuzu @ work a few times) and took her to see a Twins game.
– Setara and Nick adored the summer while preparing for the arrival of their very first addition to the twosome. That’s right – a baby! After an awesome trip to Las Vegas in June, they were able to find out they are having a little baby boy, and couldn’t be more ecstatic!
– Kip, Nate, and Greg enjoyed some whiffle ball, golf, and carrier magic @ the On-Track convention in Madison, WI!
**Be sure to check-in soon for the next post of “Keeping-up” with Integrated**
A Business Phone System Memoir – Music on Hold
Hi, I’m your new business phone system. I’ve done my due-diligence by answering calls, recording important messages, forwarding my direct calls to your cell phone, and have even taken the time to show you who’s on another call! But, what about when you put me on hold; why is it so silent?
Studies have shown that 50% of callers hang up after 20 seconds of silence, and 90% of callers hang up after 40 seconds of silence. Most callers will assume silence for disconnection. Music on hold can help to reiterate your companies’ impeccable customer service, intrigue your clientele to stay and wait for you, as well as ensure no miscommunication has occurred in the process. Can you afford to lose a sale due to complete and utter silence?
According to Maratona Communications (a dedicated partner company), U.S. laws currently in tact protect copyright owners from unlawful use of their music; using music on hold requires permission from the owner of the copyrighted music. Amy Johnson (2013) states, “If you want to use copyrighted music, you must obtain permission from the owner. This includes playing CDs, MP3s and the radio. Currently, performance rights societies such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC will sell blanket permission to use music titles in their catalog for MOH purpose, for an annual fee that is calculated by size of your business and the frequency of usage” (Maratona Communications). However, “side-stepping” these incredulous music licenses and fees is made easy with the customizable music oh hold Maratona Communications purchases directly from the composer – they are able to convert the music into any digital format to be integrated seamlessly with your current business phone system. Johnson (2013) continues, “Our writers can also record custom messages using our in-house voiceover talent, using your existing script or one we write for you. Many companies offer canned royalty free songs for you to choose from. At Maratona, we do have our standard music options, but we will also customize a song to meet your individual needs, making your on-hold music unique to your company” (Maratona Communications).
Call Integrated Communications today @ 763-201-8028 to set-up a live demo of Maratona Communications’ music on hold and the many customizable options offered for your business phone system!
Understanding Business Phone Systems #Training
Selecting a business phone system can be hard work – but, is that the hardest part? For many of our customers, ongoing training and/or initial comprehension of the product purchased seems to be an evaporating offering by business phone systems vendors and telecom carriers. The big WOW factor comes into play during the phone demo you and your executives sit through, but, once you’ve inked their papers it’s all very “thank you, come again”; it doesn’t have to be that way! In fact, at Integrated we partner with business phone systems providers who will ensure your company’s employees are well versed with the product purchased, as well as training a system administrator who may be put in charge of handling small changes with your new phone system.
If you are apprehensive about understanding your new business phone system, be sure to speak with your provider or telecom agent prior to purchase to guarantee they will offer you and your staff proper training. Check out our recommended business phone system provider if you are looking for a company that will be with you 100% of the way, guiding you through your new technology purchase.
Recommended for Excellent Phone System Training:
Company Name: Cutting Edge Communications
Business Phone Systems: AVAYA
Training Offered: SMB Market, Corporate Training – for end users and system administrators
Services Offered: Phone Systems, Structured Wiring, Programming, Training, Video Surveillance, Staging Preparation, Legacy Equipment Maintenance and Repair, Maintenance Plans, Firewall Security and VPN…
*A great provider should always offer your company a review of their product, a demo of their product, and training after implementation of their product – never settle for less.