Successfully integrating your contact centre with Microsoft Teams
Whatever sector you are in, greater collaboration and agility are increasingly key to success. That’s why businesses across the world are adopting Microsoft Teams in growing numbers. Providing a central hub for chat, calls, document sharing, and online meetings, Teams delivers a backbone for effective operations. Wherever staff are based.
However, Teams isn’t a feature-rich customer service platform, meaning companies need to integrate it with a best of breed contact centre solution to unlock the full power of both solutions. Integrating Teams with your contact centre extends its benefits, improving efficiency, reducing telephony costs, increasing flexibility, and boosting agent productivity. This all adds up to an enhanced customer experience.
What are the your Microsoft Teams contact centre integration options?
Microsoft currently outlines three models for contact centre integration, each with different advantages.
1. The Connect Model
This is the original method of integrating Teams with your contact centre solution. It relies on direct routing and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
Essentially as calls come in through the public service telephony network (PSTN), they pass through a Microsoft certified session border controller (SBC).
This checks the destination of the call and uses direct routing to forward it on. If it is for someone in the main business, it routes to their Teams client. Alternatively, if it is a call for the contact centre it routes it to the contact centre platform. Once the call reaches the contact centre, it is handled just like any other voice interaction. This enables the organisation to play messages and provide hold music. The contact centre platform then checks for a suitable, available agent by looking at Teams presence indicators using Microsoft Graph cloud communication APIs.
When the right agent is free, the call is then passed back to the SBC and onwards into Teams, where it is handled by the agent.
As the call is held and controlled within the contact centre, the Connect model is not native to Teams and requires SIP trunking to operate successfully. However, it has the advantage of being able to take calls from carriers via direct routing, increasing flexibility.
2. The Extend Model
Recently introduced by Microsoft, this approach provides a native integration between the contact centre and Teams. That means it doesn’t need SIP trunking as calls are routed directly to Teams and controlled through APIs in the platform. Essentially, users can take calls within Microsoft Teams, without them being handled by the contact centre platform.
In the Extend model calls can come into the organisation through either the PSTN, Microsoft Calling Plans, or Operator Connect services. They are then automatically routed to Teams, where the call is held, before onward routing is carried out by a programmable bot in the Microsoft Cloud. This replaces the conference stage in the Connect model, with the call instead held within Teams. The contact centre platform uses Microsoft Graph APIs to tell the bot what to do with the call, what messages to give, and what routing to follow. When the call reaches the front of the queue, it is then connected to the right agent.
Essentially, calls don’t come into the contact centre platform at all and are natively controlled in Teams across their entire journey. This has three main benefits:
- The whole process is simpler and shorter, improving quality.
- As organisations don’t need SIP trunking it also reduces infrastructure overheads, network bandwidth requirements and costs.
- Organisations have greater choice over their telephony options. For example, they can use Microsoft calling plans without requiring Microsoft phone licenses for all agents, as well as being able to choose their own carrier.
As a native integration, Extend offers enormous potential for future expansion that will further improve the customer experience. For example, organisations will be able to tap into Microsoft Azure cognitive services natively, while the call is ongoing. That means they can analyse factors such as emotion and tone in real-time. Above all, this allows them to prioritise or route calls differently to improve service and increase customer retention.
3. The Power Model
Coming soon, the Power model will take integration a step further. It will enable solution providers to embed native Teams experiences in their apps. The objective is to provide a seamless, one app/one screen contact centre experience for agents, using Azure Communications Services, and the Teams calling infrastructure and client platform. This all improves usability and productivity. The Power model provides full access to collaboration services, gives direct conversation control and enables full integration with Teams.
Thanks to the introduction of the Extend model, organisations can now natively integrate Teams with their Microsoft-certified contact centre. This provides a powerful new option that can improve efficiency and enable new services that enhance the customer experience. The choice between Connect and Extend for your contact centre integration will vary. It depends on your particular needs, existing infrastructure, and future plans.
Guide: Microsoft Teams contact centre integration
To explain more about the options Enghouse Interactive has developed a comprehensive guide to Microsoft Teams integration – download your copy here.