Why you should integrate your contact center with Microsoft Teams
For too long, external and internal communications solutions were regarded as totally separate entities. Companies had the impression that, by doing so, they were getting greater control over the messaging that reached customers and external stakeholders while air-gapping any confidential information shared internally.
However, a notable shift is under way, as businesses increasingly recognize the value of uniting these previously isolated communication channels. Having them all under one roof can bring significant cost savings to the company by reducing the need for duplicated systems and staff training.
There are other benefits too. As organizations adapt to hybrid teams, where remote work and in-office presence coexist, a centralized platform offers seamless integration of voice, video, and chat, allowing teams to collaborate effortlessly, regardless of their physical location.
They also help businesses meet the soaring expectations customers have for their digital experiences. With a centralized platform, customer queries can be swiftly addressed and interactions tracked across various channels, ensuring a consistent and personalized customer journey.
However, any sort of IT overhaul can often pose headaches for multiple departments in a business. Compatibility issues, data migration challenges, and the potential for downtime during the migration process can all create disruptions in regular operations.
After installation, employees need to be trained to use the new system effectively, and adapting to the new workflow might require a period of adjustment. Teething problems are also inevitable, and further IT assistance may need to be hired to gain extra features that the decision-maker didn’t consider when planning the transition.
As Philipp Beck, CEO of Luware, says: “IT decision-makers often find that only about two or three percent of the company are still using the old PBX, and figure that they can easily be integrated into the UC platform.
“But during the implementation phase they realize that Microsoft Teams doesn’t offer the functionality these users need. That’s when they find themselves in a bind to quickly find a solution so as to keep the UC project on track.”
Bringing the contact center into Microsoft Teams
But there are solutions. Mr Beck elaborates: “Many companies aren’t aware that they can use Microsoft Teams and the broader Microsoft ecosystem they’ve already invested in for their customer service.”
It is possible to augment the current unified communications (UC) platform used for internal communications, like Teams, In this case, the UC provider – Microsoft – delivers the collaboration tools for calling, chat, or video conferencing, while the contact center vendor extends the platform with call management and other contact center functions.
There is also the option of integrating internal communications into the contact center, which can work better for organizations that utilize more than one UC platform. However, in doing so, agents remain working on siloed applications and IT must continue providing support for multiple solutions.
A huge benefit of consolidating all your company’s communications into a UC like Microsoft Teams is its familiarity. This platform, or similar, has become a staple in most workplaces over the last few years, leading to a widespread understanding of its interface and features. Therefore the learning curve for employees when a contact center is introduced is not as steep as it would be if a new UC platform were brought in.
Additionally, with Teams already set up on company devices, there will be minimal downtime during deployment. Employees won’t need to download anything new, or remember any new log-in credentials, to access the functionality.
“Wherever Teams runs, it runs,” said Mr Beck. “A Microsoft Teams contact center run with whatever home office infrastructure people have. Wherever you can use Teams, you can answer customer calls.”
It’s not just the staff who benefit from a familiar user experience, but also the legal and security teams who must approve any IT infrastructure changes.
Mr Beck said: “We make it simple for the security and legal departments because you [run] the solution on top of something you already use. You don’t have to have big discussions with them about whether Teams is secure because they’ve already had that discussion and deemed it secure.”
Having the contact center integrated into the pre-existing UC means that, on top of the standard communications platform controls, it is easier for employees to manage the more advanced settings, which may otherwise be reserved for IT specialists.
The CCaaS solution Luware Nimbus enhances Teams with role-based access. Users with the right responsibilities can use an easy-to-use Workflow Editor that allows them to set up, customize, and instantly implement workflows in Teams, regardless of their technical knowledge.
“This speeds up the process of adoption,” said Mr Beck. “When it comes to adding a new service to the contact center, that’s something they can all build themselves rather than having to have some other tool or go to the IT helpdesk.
“You will no longer have situations where you forget to open a ticket for IT to close the contact center at 4pm and it doesn’t get done, so customers get stuck with automated responses.
“Supervisors and administrators can actually do it all themselves, which brings speed and agility to customer service.”
Happy employees = happy customers
The increased productivity of the workforce through an integrated UC platform translates well to the customers. Agents can respond to inquiries more promptly and offer seamless assistance across various communication channels, leading to improved customer satisfaction.
As well as less productive, having multiple systems to navigate is often frustrating for employees, so a UC platform can improve their job satisfaction. In Luware Nimbus, users can switch between dealing with customer calls in the front office and working on maintenance or admin tasks in the back office in Teams.
“You can easily transfer to the back office because it’s all on the same telephony infrastructure, so that makes it really easy to get the most value out of the customer interaction,” said Mr Beck.
“If the employee experience is good and employees are happy, they will also serve the customers better, which will result in a better customer experience.”