5 common customer questions about Microsoft Teams contact centres
Organisations across the world are increasingly integrating Microsoft Teams with their contact centres. By rolling out Teams they benefit from greater collaboration, improved efficiency, and the ability to elevate their omnichannel customer service.
But how can businesses implement, manage, and integrate Teams with their contact centre. Enghouse Interactive, a Microsoft partner and member of the Connected Contact Centre Microsoft Teams Certification Program, is well-equipped to provide the answers. Our recent technical webinar series covered real-world questions from contact centre and IT managers. Here are some highlights from the sessions.
Q1: Why do I need a contact centre solution if I have Microsoft Teams?
Basic Teams functionality allows features such as call groups, distribution, and queuing. However, its design does not specifically cater to being a dedicated contact centre solution. Integrating it with a fully featured contact centre platform enables you to add functionality such as:
- Call recording
- Real-time status of queues and agents
- Wider options regarding in-queue messaging such as position in queue and estimated time to answer
- Historical reporting
- Omni-channel interaction queueing
Q2: What happens if something fails?
Customer service is business critical. Companies obviously require reassurance that switching solutions won’t impact reliability or resiliency. There are several architectures that organisations can adopt to protect themselves in case of failure. This can be done with either with Teams itself or the contact centre solution it integrates with. Which option organisations choose will depend on the level of resiliency they want to achieve, and the investment they want to make.
Three layers of resilience
There are three layers of resilience that can be built into the contact centre architecture. Adding a backup Session Border Controller (SBC) and a secondary contact centre server provides two layers of protection if the primary solution fails. This ensures uninterrupted call routing to agents, enabling them to work seamlessly. Even in the unlikely event of both contact centre servers failing, the third layer of resilience comes into play. In this scenario, the Teams Call Group continues to route calls to keep customer service up and running. The downside is there is less statistical information available.
Microsoft offers the option of investing in multi-region support for Teams, which is comparable to having a dual PBX system in traditional voice infrastructure. By implementing two instances, you gain protection in case of a Teams failure in one region.
However, the wider Microsoft tech stack, along with Microsoft Azure AD, supports teams itself and provides features such as user identification. Teams outages, in some cases, have been attributed to Azure. These Azure issues have also taken products such as Office 365 offline at the same time. To guard against this possibility, companies can invest in a Survivable Branch Appliance (SBA). Essentially functioning as an SBC, you simply register your Team’s clients to the SBA in case of a cloud failure. It then provides basic phone connectivity to keep the contact centre up and running. This can be on-premise or located in your carrier’s data centre.
Carriers also offer Carrier Group plans, which manage calls as they come into the PSTN. These enable companies to route calls to mobile devices or home phones in case of failure. Similar to the resiliency services provided for traditional PBXs. Finally, organisations can build an architecture with a back-up cloud-based contact centre solution (such as Enghouse CCaaS). Agents log onto the CCaaS platform and can then handle customer interactions through its web-based interface.
Q3: What are the integration options for Microsoft Teams and my contact centre?
There are three main options, which we’ve previously covered in our blog, successfully integrating your contact centre with Microsoft Teams. To recap they are:
- Connect – in use since 2017, this is the original method of integrating Teams with your contact centre solution. It relies on direct routing and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) but is unable to handle Microsoft Calling Plans.
- Extend – this provides a native integration between the contact centre and Teams. Calls are routed directly to Teams and controlled through APIs in the platform. This means it can handle both direct routing and Microsoft Calling Plans. However, as a relatively new integration, they still need to address feature gaps in call control.
- Power – this enables solution providers to embed native Teams experiences in their apps, through the Microsoft Calling API and Azure Communication Services (ACS) API. This gives direct control of the call endpoint. This technology is very new and Enghouse expects to release its Power integration later in 2023.
Q4: What other contact centre/business applications can work with Microsoft Teams?
Organisations want the benefits of Teams, but still want all the additional capabilities that an omnichannel contact centre platform provides. Thanks to the close integration with Teams, Enghouse enables companies to work with:
- Interaction recording/quality management solutions: with the ability to record calls and/or digital channels in different ways depending on the client’s needs.
- CRM solutions: Enghouse offers a range of out-of-the-box integrations for popular CRM packages such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, SAP and ServiceNow. We can also create tailored integrations to other solutions.
- Omnichannel interactions: Enghouse provides a unified omnichannel platform that integrates seamlessly with Teams. Agents can still answer queries on channels such as live chat, IM chat, email, SMS and social media. Additionally, they can use functionality such as outbound dialling.
- Virtual Assistants/Self-service: You can integrate these into the contact centre, and if required, escalate to a live agent to solve the enquiry.
- Call logging/auditing: These deliver detailed analytics of back-office calls across the entire Teams estate, similar to a traditional PBX. Moreover, it can take call quality metrics from Teams itself.
- Teams Instant Messaging and video support:
Q5: Can I use desk phones, dashboards, and wallboards with Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft has a program to test and approve desk phones, headphones, and meeting room phones. One piece of advice is that as soon as you receive the devices, do make sure to update the firmware and drivers. This ensures that you have the latest software and can avoid interoperability and call quality issues.
In terms of dashboards and wallboards they can be available in two formats. They can be accessed via the agent’s desktop (useful if working from home), or on a TV-based wallboard within the contact centre. Supervisors who don’t have the full contact centre solution on their PC can still access the information.
Listen to more common questions about Microsoft Teams by accessing the recordings of our technical webinar series.