December 1, 2023
If there’s a winning platform for business communications, it’s Microsoft Teams. Over 270m people use it at work; it’s in play at over 3,500 enterprise-scale firms in the IT sector alone. And over 6bn conversations take place on it each year. It’s one of the reasons Anywhere365 has a laser-like focus on the Microsoft stack, with Teams at the heart of its vital dialogues. We believe that for countless use cases it simply works better.
As always, however, real life gets in the way. Market demand shows that more and more heavy hitters in business are on the hunt for CCaaS solutions capable of routing a customer interaction beyond the core Teams application. Meaning, going beyond simply connecting the customer to a CSA, but to the employee best placed to solve their problem, wherever that customer is and whatever channel they’re on. That being said, no communications platform makes it the seamless union it should be.
With most Contact Center solutions today, connecting these people feels a little … forced.
The vision, however, is for every subject matter expert in the business to become a part-time CSA, allowing customers to access the sum total of organizational knowledge. And it’s a vision we share. (Gartner explored the subject in a recent paper, How and When to Use a Contact Center in Teams) So what needs to happen? For us, it’s all about integration in the tech stack.
Customer expectations are ever-changing and to match this demand and provide a seamless experience, each interaction needs to flow smoothly, whatever the route to customer success. This requires deep integration between data, applications and channels; and certainly no flipping or breakpoints. Currently, that’s not in the core feature set of Teams (or any other big-name app).
Fortunately, not-so-big names (like Anywhere365) have the answer. By making the Microsoft ecosystem our pure play and thinking of customer service not as separate snippets of information but as connected dialogues that can be managed and analyzed, we’ve attained Microsoft Certification for our Teams-based Contact Center – and we were the world’s first. That thing the enterprise wants from CCaaS … we’re doing it.
So, if you’re a Teams fan but unsure about its CCaaS smarts, this article’s for you. If you’re fully flexing your Teams muscle, well (we’d love to know your secret) this article isn’t for you.
Let’s dig deeper into our favorite bit of jargon: dialogue management.
Making a tech stack out of a tech pile: three layers of Teams integrations
Of course, plenty of organizations use Teams for Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) – yours may even be one of them. The majority of such solutions integrate Teams at the Connect level – using separate applications to handle the actual contact. The UC platform sees your presence on Teams, then hands over the call to another app or device, handled by Session Border Controllers and Microsoft Graph APIs to connect Teams to the agent desktop.
What’s wrong with this? Nothing. It works, but it takes a lot of expertise to put together; since SBCs are more about connecting than integrating. It also means many implementations are a little shallow, with a shortage of SDKs to make native integration easier. Plus, you’re looking for an enterprise-scale solution, not a year-long headache for your coding team.
Anywhere365, by contrast, is active in the Extend model. Imagine a Contact Center where the entire customer experience happens on one clear layer in Teams; whether it’s via a voice call, a shared document, or a chat window and provides the critical agent desktop experience to anyone in the organization. All without worrying about how the underlying apps work together or needing to switch between an avalanche of apps. This is the route to an integrated CCaaS solution today – as analyst Kevin Kieller recently talked about on LinkedIn.
The even more advanced level known as Power, allows UC apps to use Azure Communication Services directly; the same fundamental architecture as Teams. The Power model is not on the market yet and won’t be for some time – but as Microsoft execs have confirmed to Gartner analysts, Anywhere365 is ready as a first-mover on this new Power integration level. Meaning we’re a more than future-proof choice for the Microsoft buyer looking to bring together UCaaS and CCaaS solutions.
If you adopt Anywhere365 for your customer dialogues today, the technology will evolve as the market does; regardless of whether you’re using Teams or ACS. At Anywhere365, we simply use a single set of business logic to switch between them.
Dialogue management: the key to a long-lasting relationship
An integrated solution is vital to tomorrow’s Contact Center – if your applications aren’t joined-up, the customer experience won’t be either. After all, customer trust is a fragile thing; one call from an underinformed agent or one text alert that treats an established customer as a new one, breaks the flow of communication. It can be jarring and lead to churn, weaker relationships, and lower CSat/NPS scores. Let’s face it, customers don’t want to wait, and they won’t. Sounds gloomy, we know, but fear not.
Dialogue management joins the dots, connecting crucial information and resources – including people –to the customers who need them. It kicks working in silos to the curb and increases high value exchanges. It’s workable at the Connect level, but elevates at Extend and above, because that’s the level where all necessary data and channels can interconnect natively across the business – the aim being to have every use case covered by a single technology stack.
As you’d expect, for Anywhere365 that stack is Microsoft. We’re all-in: Dynamics 365 for customer data, PowerBI for making sense of it, SharePoint taking care of config, and Teams handling unified communications; all brought together in our agent desktop, hosted in the Azure cloud.
That is our solution to the organization-wide approach to CCaaS we trust is the future. Rather pioneering stuff, if you ask us.
Joined in partnership: expanding capacity, reducing resource strain
With many more people acting as CSAs, and a greater volume of knowledge and experience available to customers, isn’t there a budget crunch too? Imagine a great tidal wave of customer calls, taking up the time and energy of expert professionals.
Fortunately, nothing’s further from the truth. In fact, intelligent routing and allocating of queries frequently leads to shorter resolution times, and fewer total interactions to resolve a given query, equipping representatives to transform interactions into high-value customer engagement.
In the ideal case, a customer with a problem gets through to the human (or highly intuitive non-human) most capable of solving it – and solving it fast. Meaning CSAs don’t have to be jacks-of-all-trades anymore, relieving some of their everyday worries and pressures.
In a dialogue management world, the front line of customer-facing CSAs don’t have to be subject matter experts in a huge swathe of technical topics. They simply have to handle the client relationship, while making use of a deep well of expertise across your organization. That’s what they’re trained for, after all.
A contract for today’s world: a licensing model which matches your business model
Of course, more people taking on a CSA role – even parttime – creates a need for more seats, costs and management complexity. Right?
Actually, no. Recognizing how the best people to handle a customer problem may be anywhere in the organization – on the ground, on the road, in the C-Suite – Anywhere365 uses a consumption-based charging model. You don’t pay per seat; you pay for what you use, transparently calculated using the number of service interactions.
It’s a model in tune with the way the cloud operates: no wasted subscriptions, no empty seats, just the capacity you need and at the rate you need it. It’s working for our 2000+ customers Anywhere365 customers – check some out here.
The Contact Center as one tight-knit unit
When the customer data, agent applications, and communication channels are brought together on a single platform, the scene’s set for true dialogue management in the Contact Center – making use of what you know to make what you do better.
We’re not talking about separate siloed apps that occasionally exchange data, but a unified solution on a single technology stack; even connecting to outside infrastructure like the PSTN. A straight-through solution from the initial customer problem to the final resolution, with all data collected and available for making sure it doesn’t happen again.
That’s dialogue management.
Are you ready to take the leap with Anywhere365?
We are confident that Anywhere365 solves a major pain point for today’s CIO: an organization using Teams for voice and video calls, even UC, but having problems leveraging that investment into the Contact Center.
It’s already working for over 2,000 organizations, from SME to enterprise-scale – and we’d love to make it work for you, too.
(Industry experts Gartner mention us repeatedly in that report, “How and When to Use a Contact Center in Microsoft Teams”. If you’re a Gartner subscriber, it’s worth a look.)
Want to deepdive into your business specifics? Feel free to schedule a demo!