Irrespective of your industry, the chances are that business looks a whole lot different now than it did a year ago. Most notably, 2020 was the year of the remote working switch, and it’s a trend that is here to stay with 97% of employees wanting to continue with a hybrid remote working and office policy.
Of course, this shift hasn’t totally come out of the left-field, with countless companies having already made way for some form of remote working and remote collaboration. With the remote working shift requiring fast implementation, business collaboration tools have been largely responsible for bridging that gap.
With the right tools on-hand, teams have been able to continue communicating with each other and their customers, whether they work in offices, sales, or, as we’ll be discussing here, call centres. Many have used a range of tools to achieve that goal but, as our research suggests, none are more popular for inclusive communication than Microsoft Teams.
Suggested reading: What’s the Best Business Collaboration Tool?
In the past year alone, Microsoft Teams users have increased by over a 100 million users, with Microsoft reporting an astonishing 145 million daily active users in April 2021, a figure that’s in keeping with our research into 791 businesses, of which 60% reported usage of Teams.
Largely, Teams holds the edge thanks to its integration within the wider Microsoft environment. For call centres especially, live chat and sophisticated calling options make this an appealing choice. The question is, can you run a call centre using Microsoft Teams, and would you want to? This quick answer is yes on both accounts, but here, we are going to explain why and how.
Why run your call centre through Teams?
Before we get into whether there could be such a thing as a well-formed Microsoft Teams contact centre, it’s important to ask why you would want to run your company this way. Why not just use a standard business phone system supported by other collaboration tools?
The reason for running a call centre from Teams comes down to the general benefits of unified communications. By centralising all communication in one place you do three things:
- Streamlined workflows: Using many tools can lead to disjointed workflows and a loss of productivity. Within a call centre, this might lead to accidental hang-ups, long wait times and, ultimately, low customer satisfaction. Keeping everything on one platform keeps information on hand at all times.
- Simplified access: Using one tool makes accessing communication channels easy. This is critical to providing remote access. However, it can also benefit on-premise workflows and creates a simpler training process.
- Better communication and collaboration: Unifying all communication channels on a single platform makes it simple to switch between channels on-demand. This makes it easy to jump from live chat to a call without losing access to critical information. It also provides this consistency for internal collaboration, and delivers federated presence across all channels.
Microsoft Teams also brings unique benefits, including:
- A great interface that users are likely already familiar with.
- Integration across the Microsoft ecosystem.
- A best in class business collaboration tool able to provide multiple digital channels, along with add-ons and a growing number of application extensions from AppSource.
Making Teams call centre ready
While Teams provides a lot of collaboration capabilities out-of-the-box, you can’t run a call centre using Teams without augmenting its capabilities. Like most business collaboration tools, Teams focuses on internal communication — and needs tinkering with in order to deliver external communication options. However, unlike a lot of other business collaboration tools, Teams is more than capable of being improved to deliver complete call centre functionality.
Live chat functionality
Teams has some fantastic chat features, including the ability to add external users to Teams. But it doesn’t have native live chat features able to connect with customers on an as-needed basis.
The solution: Many companies have spotted this gap in the market. It’s now possible to add live chat capabilities, including easy-to-view queues and simple to implement embed codes, from a range of outside sources. For example, Zapier supports a Teams integration with Live Chat, and AppSource has a Live Chat option.
Real PSTN calling
While it can seem like live chat and video calling are taking over, no one knows better than you the value of continued phone capabilities. In fact, 56% of customers still report this as their preferred form of communication. Let’s face it, the ability to pick up the phone and talk in real-time is fundamental to what you do.
The solution: Microsoft Teams has more calling options than most business collaboration tools — part of what makes it such a good option for call centres in search of a unified communication platform. However, we do not recommend Microsoft’s in-house Phone System and Calling Plan. This solution delivers integrated calling from Teams, but it has limited PBX functionality — restricting your call queue management, routing options and user controls. It works for businesses looking to add calling to Teams, but won’t deliver a real unified communications solution.
For calling capabilities that are up to the task required by call centre usage, you need to look at Microsoft Teams Direct Routing. This enables you to integrate all of the functionality provided by a PBX straight inside of Teams. However, it does require making the right third-party choice.
Suggested reading – check out our blog on Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams.
Get calling with integrated Direct Routing for Teams
While chat is important, nothing matters more than calling for your Teams contact centre. As mentioned above, Microsoft Calling Plan simply won’t stand up to your usage for various reasons, including limitations such as:
- No call recording
- Limited call queues and routing options
- Reduced reporting functions
These are critical for calling centres that rely on smooth phone communications 100% of the time. And, that’s where Direct Routing — as offered by Callroute — can come into its own.
Full disclosure: At Callroute, we provide a Direct Routing solution for Microsoft Teams. We set out to disrupt the Direct Routing market by providing a fully integrated solution with instant integration that reduces complexity and simplifies experimentation. We are able to do this by being both the PSTN carrier and Direct Routing provider at the same time. This has enabled us to pre-configure most back-end integration and cut the installation process from up to seven days down to minutes. We also provide:
- A free phone line for life: The first phone line with Callroute is free, and you can keep it as long as you like. Experiment with unified communications and expand on-demand. See what’s included in our free channel.
- Per-channel pricing: We charge per channel rather than per user. This makes it easier to match real usage with cost. Auto-scaling ensures no one ever hears a busy tone, and you can scale back down on-demand.
- Flexible contracts: Everything we do is flexible and on-demand. You can expand or contract your engagement based on your usage — all without having to worry about commitment.
- International access: We can provide access to international numbers and global calling at competitive rates.
- Support and guaranteed service: We provide 24/7 customer support and on-demand number porting, and can guarantee quality control across our entire network.
Put simply, Callroute is the easiest and most effective way to turn Teams into a unified communications platform ready for call centre applications. Get started for free and experiment with live chat integrations in order to see the benefits first hand. alternatively, speak to an expert to discuss how Callroute could work for your business.
The future of the call centre requires flexibility
This past year has seen unified communications becoming fundamental to all walks of business, and never is that more the case than within the call centre. After all, communication is at the heart of everything you do, and you certainly won’t deliver on expectations without it. Sadly, as teams turn remote, there’s a real risk of increased wait times, disconnected calls, and worse. What’s more, rigid collaboration tools fail almost entirely to take this into account from a telephony perspective.
Luckily, flexibility is still possible with the right solutions, and Teams offers most of what you need. Remote access and internal collaboration worries will certainly be a thing of the past. Pair these with Direct Routing from Callroute and live chat integration, and you’ve armed yourself with all the tools necessary to fight the competition in 2021 and beyond and do so with flexibility constantly at your forefront. Get started with a free channel for life today.