Microsoft Teams has come a long way over the past 12 months. Little over a year ago, in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses hastily made the shift to remote working and Teams offered a quick-and-easy win for organisations looking to stay connected. Video conferencing became the norm, quickly replacing in-person boardroom meetings and team catch-ups, and managers reaped the benefits of continued employee visibility 

 Now, with teams fully adapted to remote working and the hybrid office looking set to play a central role in the workplace of the future, organisations are looking beyond internal communications and thinking about how they can harness the full power of Microsoft Teams for their contact centre operations. 

 

More users, more features 

By October 2020, Microsoft Teams was seeing a staggering 115 million daily active users. While many of those users had initially begun logging on to make use of an online collaboration space to maintain open lines of communication between teams during the coronavirus pandemic, they quickly came recognise how Teams could help them sustain workflows, streamline process and ensure the continued efficacy of critical business functions. 

It would have been easy for Microsoft to sit back and watch new users flood to the platform to make use of the video conferencing and Office 365 integrations. But rather than take a passive stance, Microsoft sought to actively serve these new customers, and serve them well. Over the past 12 months, the tech company has been reacting quickly to the changing needs of its users and spinning up new functionality on a regular basis.  

Among the primary needs of Teams users has been facilitating external communications, and we have seen the rise of countless features designed to support organisations in their quest to deliver enhanced customer experience.  

Any organisation now looking to harness Teams as a customer contact tool has access to such features as: 

  • Collaborative calling – allowing agents to connect a call queue to a Teams channel, where they can share information while prioritising and answering calls. 
  • Streamlined agent environments – with a simplified screen showing everything from call history to contact information when calling out. 
  • Channel summaries – distilling important information about critical Channels. 
  • Enhanced analytics – providing managers, team leaders and workers with an overview of their activity, with insights that can be used to boost productivity and streamline processes. 
  • Shift management – with the new Power Automate Shifts connector allowing for automation within Shifts, to save time and improve the efficiency of schedule management. 
  • Contact centre devices – designed specifically for at-home customer service agents, to improve the experience and streamline access to Teams. 

 

The Microsoft Teams contact centre 

As changes in customer habits, working practices and employee expectations continue apace, Microsoft Teams offers a way for organisations to build scalable and customisable contact centres with benefits that go way beyond merely assuming the role of on-premise PBX technology. Some of those benefits include:  

  • Omnichannel customer service. Customers expect more from service teams than ever before, and a Teams contact centre opens the door to true omnichannel conversations. Flexible integration allows for the building of an environment in which all types of interaction are possible, from call monitoring and SMS to chat and email, all in the same familiar interface. 
  • Enhanced analytics. Organisations rely on insights to ensure they are delivering the right outcomes for customers, and Teams’ ability to integrate with CRMs and provide analytics through Microsoft BI helps them identify weaknesses and make stronger decisions. 
  • A centralised environment for communication. When teams can collaborate with each other and serve customers on the same channel, processes are streamlined as less time is spent switching between tools and apps. 
  • Fully customisable solutions. The flexibility of the platform means partners with an API-first architecture can customise the contact centre to suit the requirements of any organisation. 
  • Streamlined user management. With all your users in one environment, it’s easier to manage workflows, track progress and monitor performance. Teams even offers Power BI reporting with real-time analytics and wallboards for staff motivation.  
  • Standard integrations. An out-of-the-box Teams contact centre will easily connect with leading business-function apps like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, allowing a big-picture overview of the customer journey and a better understanding of where contacts can be improved. 
  • Access to crucial contact centre tools. With the right partner, organisations get access to contact-critical features like smart voice and digital routing, proactive reach, callback services and supervisor insights, all neatly delivered in the familiar Teams environment. 

 

What a Teams CCaaS looks like 

Microsoft Teams is already one of the most popular tools for internal communications, and it only makes sense that businesses will want to leverage the app’s unique features to make external communications both easier and more manageable.  

 For those organisations looking to implement a Teams Contact Centre as a Service solution, there are several options to explore. These include:  

  • The Connect model, which integrates third-party CCaaS technology with the in-built Teams phone system infrastructure. This model allows for a wider range of telephony services, enhanced routing and improved system insights. The Connect model can be used to create virtual agents and unlock skills-based routing strategies to free up human agents and facilitate better first-contact resolution rates. Connect further supports access to the Graph API, enabling developers to add their own functionality, as well as enabling multi-tenant SIP trunking and enhanced call features through direct routing. 

The Connect and Extend model, which uses the in-built Teams phone system for contact centre calls and management. By using a contact centre partner as a telephony carrier alongside Teams, organisations gain access to advanced workflows and routing configurations, and have plenty of scope for customising solutions. Organisations can build omnichannel communications strategies through integrated agent experience apps, with Teams mobile and web clients too. The Connect and Extend model also provides for enhanced Teams analytics, workflow management and role-based experiences for agents operating within integrated CCaaS environments.  

  • The Extend and Power model, which supports third-party native Azure-based voice applications that use the Teams calling infrastructure and client platform. This model allows for rapid provisioning and almost limitless global scalability, with integration through the Azure platform. Third parties can integrate all the benefits of Azure, from analytics to AI, as well as the automation features of Teams, through connected contact centre SDKs. 

 

The contact centre of the future 

By combining Teams with the contact centre, organisations are able to support customer conversations through a platform that is familiar to both employees and customers, and offer an omnichannel solution that makes best use of innovative partner-led integrations. 

For more on how your organisation can harness Microsoft Teams for a fully integrated, streamlined contact centre, get in touch with us today – we’ll be happy to help. 

 

More from this series: 

Part 1. Modernising your contact centre technology 

Part 2. How to accelerate new technology adoption in the hybrid workplace

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