An International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) member posed a popular question in the community forum on July 15, 2022. Below is the advice shared by Kraft Kennedy CTO, Chris Owens.
ILTA Member Question:
Anyone rolled out Zoom phone system instead of Ring Central? Pros or Cons?
Answer from Chris Owens:
Full disclosure, I am an ILTA business partner – but I am also someone that has deployed two different UCaaS systems internally and helped a long-term client move from Skype for Business Online telephony to Zoom phones about a year ago. Phones are tricky because they are one of the oldest technologies a law firm utilizes, and culture plays an important role.
RingCentral has been a favorite of Gartner for 3 solid years and the feature set matches apples-to-apples to any UCaaS vendor on the common telephony desires for law firms. Zoom has moved into the Magic Quadrant as well at this point – so a law firm should be successful with either technology vendor. One thing to definitely validate is whether networking is playing a part in the dissatisfaction with a current UCaaS provider. If this proves to be the case, changing UCaaS systems will likely result in similar dissatisfaction. Below are the other considerations that I feel help objectively determine the right phone vendor for a law firm (or an IT services firm like Kraft Kennedy).
Hardware – buying new handsets, even if you feel not everyone will want a new handset, is a giant cost factor. You want a handset to be an 8+ year investment, so if you own a Poly or Yealink handset today, it would be wise to understand if you can simply flash firmware between RingCentral, Zoom, Teams, etc. If you are buying new handsets either way – then ensuring you have a “future proof” solution that can support all of these systems makes a ton of sense. Lastly, as alluded to above – you should definitely validate who needs a handset versus someone that might rather have a nice headset and use the soft phone on their workstation or laptop. Headsets are half the cost of a handset, even the wireless, noise-cancellation variety.
Unified Communications – it is hard to consider telephony as a standalone system these days. Starting with voicemail messages sent via email, the integration has grown to chat/presence, video conferencing, virtual whiteboard, and even beyond when you think about a Microsoft Teams solution. RingCentral probably should not be your chat program at this point and certainly fewer vendors support a RingCentral conferencing component when compared to Cisco Webex, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams. Zoom can serve as these elements and might be incumbent already in one of them. Teams is the ultimate cross-organization chat program, but that might not be a key criterion in all organizations.
Complex Routing – any law firm that has some complex routing or even a simple “buzz my assistant” option on their current phone system needs to ensure any new system supports that workflow or be willing to drop it (without partner revolt). The option to quickly buzz an assistant was a deal killer for one law firm several years ago and that mandate severely limited their options. If you need to cascade through multiple routing trees from a single incoming call – you should verify that is possible while still in proof-of-concept discussions. This was a problem for Kraft Kennedy in our native Teams telephony implementation and caused us to have 5-6 lines through a second vendor to satisfy our needs – not ideal. We eventually moved everything to a new UCaaS vendor, but that was because of…
Innovative New Features – if someone offers up something new that demonstrates clear value to the firm, those tend to be the little nuggets that push a direction toward a certain vendor. We found two. First, the ability to text message a work number. This feature meant that our consultants did not have to utilize personal cell phone numbers for work-related one-time passwords to various secured systems. Kraft Kennedy saw value in this text messaging feature. The second was the ability to integrate into other systems we use through a “call pop” API feature. Call pop will allow us to develop tools that leverage incoming caller ID on our soft phones to open various applications and functions in our environment.
Lastly – cost is always a factor and one that can shift constantly. All of these companies are vying for your business and cost will likely not be a differentiator. A new vendor might try to use cost to supplant an existing telephony system, but changing phones is always a disruptive process and is likely not worth the hassle if significant savings are not realized. The criteria above are much better objective ways to decide what is the right choice for a firm.
We have customers that are happy with RingCentral and we have customers who are happy with Zoom – either solution should fit the bill from a high-level. If you have an existing investment in Zoom in other areas, adding telephony might streamline some things internally and eliminate another vendor to manage. If you are having performance issues with RingCentral, ensure they are not caused by something that will have the same effect on Zoom. Finally, check out the roadmaps and see if anything catches your eye in future features being developed. Coupled with everything above, you should feel confident you are making the right decision for the firm.
Chief Technology Officer
Houston TX United States
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