zoom phone family

Zoom Phones: An Inside Look at an Integrator’s Experience

iphone-12-phone-incoming-call- sm

In mid-2019 we found our­selves need­ing to update our phone sys­tems. We became an ear­ly adopter of Zoom Phones, which we ful­ly imple­ment­ed just before the world went WFH in March 2020. COVID was the ulti­mate stress-test in flex­i­bil­i­ty, ease-of-use and reli­a­bil­i­ty for our new phone system.

It was a test that Zoom Phones passed, and over a year lat­er we are still very sat­is­fied with our choice. In fact, it has been such a good expe­ri­ence we decid­ed to offer Zoom Phone licens­es and deploy­ment to our customers.

Here’s an inside look from a tech­nol­o­gy inte­gra­tor on our process for select­ing a new phone sys­tem and why we chose Zoom.

Why we upgraded

Up until 2019, we used an anti­quat­ed on-prem PBX phone sys­tem. It worked well when we were a small­er, one-office com­pa­ny. We then acquired a com­pa­ny in Seat­tle and quick­ly ran into lim­i­ta­tions with our exist­ing phone systems.

The first bar­ri­er was cre­at­ing a cohe­sive cus­tomer expe­ri­ence between the two offices. Many of our employ­ees in the account­ing, mar­ket­ing and pro­cure­ment depart­ments served the teams in both offices. Fre­quent­ly, clients would dial the Boise num­ber when they actu­al­ly need­ed to talk to an employ­ee in Seat­tle and vice versa.

Instead of trans­fer­ring them to the cor­rect office, we would pro­vide the oth­er phone num­ber and the client would have to call them­selves. Cus­tomer expe­ri­ence is a high pri­or­i­ty at Neurilink, and the idea clients had to bur­den these extra, unnec­es­sary steps was a major pain point for us.

Our desire to pro­vide cus­tomers a stan­dard Neurilink expe­ri­ence regard­less of loca­tion led to our sec­ond issue. When a client called into one office they got an auto record­ing phone tree and in the oth­er a live per­son picked up. We’re not fans of the phone tree. Part what our cus­tomers love about work­ing with us is they’re treat­ed like a real per­son, not a num­ber lost some­where in a sea of touchtones.

We want­ed a live per­son answer­ing the phone in both loca­tions; how­ev­er, mak­ing this change was hard­er than it sounds. Get­ting into the admin por­tal of our exist­ing sys­tem was dif­fi­cult and adding call queues was­n’t easy. It took a 3 page ‘how to’ guide to change the voice mail greet­ing. Not sim­ple, not user friendly.

The final straw came when we decid­ed to move our Boise office a few miles down the road. This was the per­fect time to get every­one on a stan­dard­ized sys­tem and upgrade the phones at both offices. We now had a tim­ing ele­ment that trig­gered us to search for a more mod­ern, flex­i­ble solution.

Poly Phone

Our Criteria for a New Phone System

We ini­tial­ly explored most­ly PBX solu­tions. As a Zoom part­ner, we knew they were launch­ing Zoom Phones so we added it to our ‘poten­tial’ list and start­ed investigating.

Pri­or­i­ties in our deci­sion-mak­ing were:

1.     Reli­a­bil­i­ty is an obvi­ous one. Our employ­ees (like most) need to com­mu­ni­cate with clients, ven­dors, and each oth­er. If the solu­tion wasn’t reli­able it wouldn’t work for us.

2.      Port­ing over exist­ing num­bers was a must-have. The same office num­ber served us for about 15 years, and we have no plans to change it.

3.     Uni­fy­ing the phone sys­tems in our two offices. We need­ed the abil­i­ty to trans­fer callers from Boise to Seat­tle and vice ver­sa. We also need­ed want­ed to be able to send calls to employ­ees’ cell phones if they were work­ing from home or were on the road. (This proved to be crit­i­cal dur­ing the ear­ly months of COVID).

4.     Easy admin­is­tra­tive por­tals. We’re pret­ty techy and want­ed to be able to make tweaks to the sys­tem our­selves. A 21st cen­tu­ry admin por­tal would give us the flex­i­bil­i­ty to cus­tomize the expe­ri­ence, add lines, and make updates quick­ly and efficiently.

5.     Mobil­i­ty. Most of our employ­ees work both in office and on-site.  We need­ed a solu­tion that would ring both a desk phone and cell phone (or just cell phone if the employ­ee didn’t want a desk phone). That way they could respond to clients whether they were in the office or on the road.

6.     Re-using exist­ing hard­ware. Some peo­ple on our team have come to love their Poly­com (now Poly) desk phones. Who are we to take away some­one’s trusty desk acces­so­ry? We want­ed them to be able to keep using their desk phone with­out hav­ing to buy new hardware.

7.     Price. Like most com­pa­nies, phone sys­tems are a bud­get­ed line item on our finan­cials. That meant price was a fac­tor but not the decid­ing fac­tor. Find­ing a sys­tem that met our cri­te­ria was our high­est priority.

zoom phone family

Why we chose Zoom Phones

We end­ed up select­ing Zoom Phones because it hit every want on our list. To be fair, the tra­di­tion­al PBX offer­ings hit most of them as well, but our team already uses Zoom for video con­fer­enc­ing and has wide­ly adopt­ed the plat­form. Zoom Phones seam­less­ly inte­grate with the rest of the Zoom UC plat­form both on the desk­top and mobile. It cre­ates an easy-to-use expe­ri­ence for our team whether it’s on a tra­di­tion­al Poly phone, lap­top, or mobile device.

When we ran the num­bers, our Zoom Phones saved us about 20% less per month com­pared to the tra­di­tion­al solu­tion avail­able when we made the switch. In addi­tion, with a tra­di­tion­al PBX sys­tem we would have to upgrade the on-prem hard­ware in both our Boise and Seat­tle office which would add an upfront cap­i­tal expen­di­ture in addi­tion to the month­ly costs. Since Zoom Phones are ful­ly cloud-based, we wouldn’t incur this addi­tion­al cost.

How Zoom Phones Work

We’ve been using Zoom Phones for about 18 months. Our expe­ri­ence has been over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive. We did a few brief train­ings, and our team was off to the races.

Zoom Pro users receive an option­al direct line. This is a real val­ue-add for both the com­pa­ny and the employ­ee for two reasons.

  1. Many of our employ­ees get a stipend to use their per­son­al cell phone at work. Now, they can pro­vide clients their direct Zoom num­ber instead of their per­son­al num­ber. Employ­ees can set their own ‘office hours’ so the Zoom Phone only rings dur­ing cer­tain times (for exam­ple 8:00–5:00 Monday-Friday).
  2. The sec­ond big val­ue add is on the employ­er side. If you have turn over, clients don’t con­tin­ue call­ing an employ­ee that no longer works with you. Instead, you can for­ward the direct line to a new hire or ring group.

Before COVID, our employ­ees were, for the most part, office based. Like many com­pa­nies we made a quick switch to remote work­ing where pos­si­ble. This was a forced stress-test of our shiny new phone sys­tem (and Zoom’s plat­form in general).

Zoom Phones pre­formed real­ly well. Hav­ing the flex­i­bil­i­ty to send incom­ing calls to a ring group work­ing from home proved to be a crit­i­cal func­tion we didn’t know we need­ed until COVID. Even with employ­ees work­ing from home, we didn’t expe­ri­ence any major fric­tion points with dropped calls, lag time, or oth­er inconsistencies.

Final Thoughts

We give Zoom Phones two thumbs up. They’ve deliv­ered on all the fea­tures and func­tion­al­i­ty that sold us in the first place. That, along with the seam­less inte­gra­tion into their UC plat­form, makes it a win­ner in our book.

Our CEO and own­er, Mike For­nan­der, led the selec­tion and deploy­ment of Zoom Phones. “For us, it’s not just a phone sys­tem. It ties into our uni­fied com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem. That gives us tremen­dous flex­i­bil­i­ty and a seam­less expe­ri­ence across use cas­es,” he said.

Neurilink has deployed Zoom video con­fer­enc­ing sys­tems in meet­ing spaces around the North­west. We are a Zoom Cer­ti­fied Inte­gra­tor and Reseller and are pleased to also offer Zoom Phones. If you have any ques­tions about our expe­ri­ence or would like to see if Zoom is a fit for your orga­ni­za­tion, feel free to con­tact us.

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