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How to enable a Teams-contact center integration

Explore the three ways Microsoft supports integrating a contact center with Teams to enable more advanced calling and collaboration features for agents.

While Microsoft has expanded its contact center functionality, organizations may choose to integrate their existing contact center with Teams. This integration enables companies to still use the collaboration capabilities they rely on, such as VoIP features, like call queues and auto attendants, while still supporting functionality needed for contact center agent needs.

Benefits of a Teams-contact center integration

Many organizations rely on their contact centers to support inbound and outbound customer calls. A system that supports auto attendants, call queues, call routing and reporting capabilities on call volumes and other statistics is a must. And organizations want to ensure they can continue to use their call center platforms alongside their Microsoft Teams deployment.

The general premise behind a Teams-contact center integration is to eliminate staff from performing duplicate tasks, such as customer lookups when switching between applications, as well as use existing investments when adopting Teams as a VoIP platform. Integrating Teams can also provide contact centers with additional features, such as presence and skill-based routing.

But not all integrations are the same. Microsoft offers three models to connect and use a contact center alongside Teams.

1. The connect model

This model uses session border controllers and Direct Routing to integrate a contact center with Teams' calling infrastructure. The approach uses Teams Graph APIs and Microsoft Graph cloud communication APIs to enable features, including the following:

  • Agent presence visibility.
  • Automated virtual assistants
  • Skill-based routing queues.
  • Transfers and group call support.
  • Multi-tenant Session Initiation Protocol trunking.

2. The extend model

The extend model offers companies more capabilities in using a contact center within Teams and uses the Teams phone system for all contact center calls. This integration model uses the Teams client platform, Teams Graph APIs and cloud communications APIs to enable contact center organizations to use Teams for internal and external communication, as well as to design workflows.

The features of this integration include the following:

  • Analytics and workflow management, as well as role-based experiences for agents.
  • Integrated chat and collaboration experiences.
  • Teams client calling for all call controls.
  • Teams-based app for agent experiences on web and mobile.

3. The power model

In this integration model, Microsoft enables service providers to create an Azure-based voice app using the Teams calling infrastructure and client platform. This provides a more in-depth integration through the Microsoft Teams SDK, which enables third-party integrators or software development firms to build end-to-end communication and a contact center tool that uses key Teams functionality within itself. The features of the power model for a Teams-contact center integration include the following:

  • Omnichannel communication with the Teams SDK.
  • Teams collaboration services for agent and customer communication.
  • Direct conversation control and integration with users during Teams conversations.

Choosing the right integration model depends on a company's chosen contact center vendor, the functionality offered by the platform and whether the vendor participates in a Microsoft contact center certification program. Each contact center vendor also has its own preferred integration model.

The advancement in AI is also bringing new functionality to contact centers. The ability to integrate Teams with external contact centers supports the adoption of AI-based voice capabilities, such as real-time translation, sentiment analysis, advanced reporting and interactive bots. Over time, the need to integrate with Teams will be key as these features become more popular and widely used.

Editor's note: This article was republished to improve the reader experience.

Reda Chouffani runs the consulting practice he co-founded, Biz Technology Solutions, Inc. He is a healthcare informatics consultant, cloud expert and a business intelligence architect who helps enterprise clients make the best use of technology to streamline operations and improve productivity.

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