In the first weeks of April 2023, HelloTeams crossed a milestone.
We became a Microsoft-certified Operator Connect provider, part of an exclusive club with just 50-odd members worldwide. And we were in good company – our new playing field was populated by telco giants like AT&T and Verizon.
But there was an elephant in the room. Despite their size, those big carriers still had to deploy Operator Connect manually for each client, which came with a high price tag. In other words: most small and mid-sized businesses couldn’t afford Operator Connect.
What Exactly Is Operator Connect?
Before we explain why our new status as an Operator Connect provider matters, let’s review exactly what Operator Connect is.
Prior to Operator Connect, businesses that wanted Teams Calling had two pathways: one, use Microsoft’s own Calling Plan (which has a host of limitations), or, two, invest in direct routing (which required an intimidating hardware stack and a lot of CapEx). Neither was a great option.
Microsoft understood that a third way was necessary. So, in 2022, it introduced Operator Connect. Businesses could choose from approved carriers within the Teams admin centre, connect to the PSTN with an operator of their choice, and then start deployment via the admin centre – no PowerShell or SBCs required.
Teams Calling was available for more companies than ever before, but SMBs, which comprise about 70% of the Microsoft voice white space, were still being neglected. Because most carriers provision Teams Calling manually, they need a certain seat threshold for new clients to be financially viable – any organisation with under 500 seats (read: employees) is normally off the table.
The HelloTeams Market Entry
The reason more than 400 organisations use HelloTeams is that our automation platform streamlines every aspect of Teams Calling deployment and management, even with direct routing. Where other providers take days or weeks of hands-on technician work to get customers set up, HelloTeams takes just 15 minutes – no coding and no engineers required.
So, when we looked at the Operator Connect market, we knew that HelloTeams could deliver the same benefits as it had for our direct routing customers: seamless, self-serve provisioning in just minutes, at a price that didn’t sideline SMBs.
“A lot of the telcos out there are still approaching Operator Connect in the traditional way, where they’re manually provisioning projects,” says Jack Kruse, the global sales director for HelloTeams. “They’re putting a lot of engineering effort into setting customers up, whereas, with HelloTeams’ automation, we’ve been able to offer customers – whether they’re one seat or 1,000 seats – the same service at the same cost in just 15 minutes.”
With the support of our Operator Connect Accelerator partner, PingCo, we were able to take an Operator Connect offering from conception to market in under two months.
What Operator Connect and HelloTeams Means for SMBs
For businesses that want a high-quality VoIP solution, Operator Connect is one of the best options in market. And, with HelloTeams, it’s now accessible for organisations big and small – across most of the world. We currently serve customers in 19 regions globally, with upcoming expansions planned in the US, the UK, Asia, and Europe that will allow us to help even more brands affordably access Teams Calling.
Perhaps more importantly, though, HelloTeams is at the frontier of a sector-wide transformation. That’s not an overstatement. We’re one of the first voice automation platforms in the world, but we won’t be the last.
“The status quo is for a customer to take on a solution like Teams Calling to replace their PBX phone system,” says Jack. “And, if that project is undertaken by a traditional supplier, the customer could be looking at timelines of three to six months and tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of their organisation.
“We’re looking to change that status quo. These projects don’t need to be drawn out. They don’t need to involve outsized expenditures. And it shouldn’t matter whether you’ve got one seat or 1,000 seats. Carriers should be able to provide the same service, at the same cost, to all customers. Thanks to our automation technology, HelloTeams is at the forefront of voice equity – fast, cost-effective transitions to VoIP calling for businesses all across the world.”
HelloTeams For Partners
HelloTeams’ Operator Connect offering is a win for our partners as well. Most MSPs and SIs reselling Operator Connect face an uncomfortable choice: miss out on one of the fastest-growing voice markets in the world, or partner with a large telco that has both the ability and the incentive to poach clients.
Unlike most Operator Connect providers, though, HelloTeams doesn’t offer other products or services – we’re solely focused on our automation platform, which means our partners don’t need to worry about losing customers to us.
More importantly, HelloTeams’ 15-minute Operator Connect setup is typically low- to zero-touch. There’s minimal CS involvement, which means our partners can build a scalable revenue stream that isn’t restricted by a requirement for more staff. Each referral generates a 10–16% commission, with a an additional 2% for partner-closed deals.
For a 300-seat referral at $12 per seat, that’s up to $648 per month – for as long as that client stays active. And if they add more seats at a later date? Well, our partners get the commission on those seats too.
In an increasingly competitive landscape with rising costs, Operator Connect with HelloTeams is the panacea that MSPs and SIs need.
If you’ve read this article and thought, “HelloTeams sounds like the right Operator Connect provider for my business,” you’re probably correct.
Seventy percent of organisations that want to transition from landline or non-Microsoft VoIP to Operator Connect have difficulty being qualified as viable customers by telcos. And, for enterprises with over 500 seats, a telephony transformation project with manual provisioning can be slow and at risk of human error.
Fully automated provisioning – whether through HelloTeams or another provider – is the future of telecommunications. As we continue to expand our Operator Connect service globally, we’ll be giving SMBs everywhere access to voice equity: Teams Calling that’s freely deployable, easy to manage, and charged at affordable, month-to-month rates.
For businesses big and small, that’s something worth trying.