CCaaS is the contact center model of the future

Initially spurred by the Covid-induced shift to remote working, many companies are turning to cloud-based platforms such as Microsoft Teams for an easy-to-deploy and cost-effective solution.

Cloud-based systems are now becoming essential – analyst search demonstrated a 16.3% drop in traditional infrastructure, while public cloud spending topped $10 billion.

There are many reasons why cloud-based collaborative solutions are an ideal choice for companies operating remote and on-site contact centers, and why platforms such as Microsoft Teams are an ideal solution – and not only because they can be quickly deployed.

The popularity of Teams is growing as the platform matures and expands its capabilities. This has been accelerated by recent world events which have sparked strong demand for greater collaboration among remote users, but Teams is now a very mature platform in its own right. Now that the Skype for Business service is about to be retired, moving from one Microsoft platform to another is a logical roadmap for many businesses.

Teams grew from 75 million daily users in April 2020 to 145 million in April 2021 due to business continuity efforts and remote work strategies. Since annual major update in November, there was another huge increase in the capacity of teams, improving the user experience and improving the development tools.

Teams alone are not enough – here’s what you need to add

Typically, standalone, “out-of-the-box” Unified Communications (UC) platforms require additional embedded software to make them suitable for roles such as dedicated contact center operations, consistently delivering the high level of customer experience that consumers today expect as a minimum standard.

Microsoft is continually expanding its Graph API (application programming interface); Once this is complete, solution developers will be able to add other features to ensure agents and the end customer get a high-quality contact center experience. Businesses need additional features like call recording, queue monitoring, interactive voice response, and reporting on top of Teams.

Microsoft Teams also offers excellent third-party integration capabilities, allowing companies to deploy dedicated cloud-based contact center solutions on top of their existing Teams deployment.

These solutions offer powerful additional features such as omnichannel, skills-based routing, callback capability, queue logging, reporting, and enhanced operator and supervision capabilities. This allows supervisors to listen and intervene in agent-customer interactions for help with particularly difficult requests.

For companies looking to migrate from legacy internal systems to Teams and the integrated contact center software, a gradual migration can make it a seamless experience and avoid the need for divestitures from an existing deployment. Companies that are still evaluating their approach to migration would be strongly advised to consult with a trusted partner and discuss how to proceed in this manner.

At this initial stage, companies can identify workflows, assess service suitability for migration, and develop a proof of concept for the migration. It’s important to identify early on which systems and services can be moved, and then gradually expand that migration, keeping the old system if necessary. Flexible cloud-based deployments dramatically accelerate this change.

The move to Teams should be quick and completely cost-neutral. The bottom line remains unchanged if the deployment is managed correctly with the right partner.

A contact center as a service (CCaaS) offers the flexibility to migrate in a phased fashion, onboarding staff at a measured pace without incurring significant costs. This “pay as you go” model also allows companies to increase capacity during periods of high demand, making migration quick and cost effective.

Businesses are now primed and ready for cloud adoption

Whether businesses opt for Teams or an alternative platform, cloud-based solutions will be critical to ensuring business continuity in the event of future disruption. Yet many regions are at different levels of maturity in their cloud adoption journey.

In Europe, remote working is much more advanced than in other regions, with many contact centers moving to fully remote operations during the pandemic. These companies are currently playing the waiting game and evaluating migration options to a more advanced platform before moving forward, but are well positioned to begin exploring a phased migration of departments and operations.

Remote working is finally on track to remain the norm, with many large companies already beginning to offer staff the choice of returning to the office or continuing to work from home indefinitely. Q1 surveys of UK workers are already showing positive opinions about continuing to work remotely, with others wanting to split their working time between working from home and working in the office.

With many companies keen to establish flexible and modern working strategies in 2021 and beyond, setting up cloud-based contact center facilities with remote working capabilities should be a top priority. A proven UC platform such as Teams will be essential to the success of any CCaaS approach, providing an easy to deploy and cost-effective framework on which to build and grow a first-class contact center experience.