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Overview

Age UK Richmond upon Thames is an independent charity that has been working in the local community to help older people for more than 50 years.

They have 50 dedicated staff and 75 volunteers helping them to deliver services and activities for older people in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Age UK Richmond initially had more of a traditional phone server. As their contract was coming to an end, they decided to speak to Class Networks who they’d already worked with to implement Office 365 into their organisation.

Class Networks suggested that Teams Voice could be a viable option as it enables calls to be made without having to change phone numbers and can mean staff work remotely.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since January 2021.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Age UK Richmond upon Thames’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a charity, we need to continue communicating effectively with our service users
  • As a charity, we need to be able to deliver our service, even when working remotely
  • As a service user, I need to be able to speak to members of staff and volunteers

Software and tools used

Teams Voice

Teams Voice is a Microsoft Teams solution that enables users to make and receive external calls to people outside of the Teams environment. This helps in replacing your existing phone system, saving money and managing all your communications via Microsoft Teams.

Cost

Teams Voice is available at discounted charity rates through the Charity Digital Exchange programme.

Considerations

Implementing Teams Voice means that staff can be working anywhere and be able to pick up an inbound call. There’s no need for a traditional phone set, as the Teams Voice app can be downloaded onto mobiles and other devices.

Recipe steps

1. Assess your needs

Think about what your priorities may be and consider how this will influence your choice of phone system.

Teams Voice offers a better price rate for calls, which was something Age UK Richmond felt was important.

Think about what additional equipment may be needed, such as ordering headsets for teams if they are working remotely, and implement this into your timeframe.

2. Think about accessibility

Your staff may be used to a particular way of working with phone systems.

Having a system that has to be downloaded onto the individual’s phone may offer some challenges regarding digital exclusion.

Speak with colleagues about practical issues and offer additional credit for updated data packages on personal phones, or perhaps provide tablets to your team members who require updated hardware.

Since this mode of working is different, work this into your timeline and give advance notice to prepare for these so they do not become problems.

3. Implement the software

You’ll need to have a Microsoft phone system add on and your end-user hardware has to support MS Teams. Class Networks can help complete the required Microsoft 365 configuration to deploy your telephone system in Teams.

4. Train teams

Provide your team with videos on how to use the system.

If they are uncertain about any sections of the software, Class Networks can offer training.

Hold a mandatory refresher a week or two after the software has been installed and is being used.

You can also send emails to your team with a feedback form so that issues can be collected and addressed in team meetings.

Guidance

Keep in mind that not all team members will be onboard with systems changing. Build their confidence in the system through training and conversations around how the system can impact their work. Make sure you are available for individuals who might require more training than others.

Understand how staff prefer/need to make and receive calls. For example, you'll need to consider who needs a physical phone on the desk, who prefers headphones, who wants to use a mobile app.

Think about whether there are requirements for contact centre functionality, such as live and historic reporting, compliant call recording, or email and web chat integration. Contact centre overlays can provide this additional functionality.

Understand what analogue devices currently connected to your existing telephone system will continue to be needed, such as faxes, pdq machines, or door entry systems. These devices will need to be connected in a different way.

Risks

Over time, some functionalities of Teams Voice may get forgotten by staff, even after training. Ensure that you maintain good communication with your service provider and contact them about issues you may encounter.

Thanks

Many thanks to Age UK Richmond upon Thames for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Age UK Richmond upon Thames and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on May 7th, 2021. Last updated August 6th, 2021