The softphone has arrived for contact centres – and spells the end of the PBX

The new post-COVID strategy that is delivering enterprise-wide efficiencies

As businesses continue to adapt to ‘the new normal’, one thing has become clear – remote and hybrid working are here to stay, with as many as 90% of executives saying they will support some form of remote work. Shifting to a digital communication platform such as Microsoft Teams will be vital to sustain this. Retiring legacy PBX systems will allow businesses to streamline their infrastructure and enhance contact centre operations, achieving significant cost and management benefits.

If there’s one small positive from 18 months of global disruption, it’s the success and advanced capabilities that came with deployment of large-scale remote operations. Solutions such as Microsoft Teams have proven themselves as truly enterprise-grade platforms, capable of supporting remote, hybrid and on-premise operations.

From ‘traditional’ telephony to Teams

With many businesses preparing to embrace permanent remote or hybrid working strategies, many businesses are actively exploring how to expand the platform’s role within their organisations, to serve as a primary telephony platform and power critical operations such as customer service and support.

The customisable nature of Teams means the possibilities for telephony don’t stop at simply handling inbound and outbound calls. Enhancing the solution with dedicated contact centre software provides organisations with an all-in-one communications platform that supports omnichannel contact centre operations.

Making the case for a digital communications foundation

At the service level, phone conversations are still a significant proportion of all customer service queries, so combining voice with all other channels is critical if organisations are to consistently deliver a first-class customer experience.

With telephony handled through Teams alongside channels such as email, instant message and social, the need for a dedicated on-premise telephony system is minimal.

Seize the opportunity to ditch the burden of legacy systems

If telephony is migrated to the Microsoft Teams platform, this provides businesses with an opportunity to fully remove legacy phone systems – think decades-old PBX systems, moving towards end of service life and expensive to maintain. Using Teams as an end-to-end communications platform means there is simply no need to maintain an outdated system in parallel.

IT managers have the chance to overhaul their existing IT footprint, simplifying existing infrastructure. This brings the added benefit of shifting the administrative burden, such as updates, patching and maintenance, away from in-house IT departments and over to the service provider.

From a day-to-day management perspective, this is also a simple, flexible way to continue indefinite support for home and hybrid working, powering fully remote contact centre operations on a single cloud-based platform that is accessible no matter where individual agents are located.

It’s just one journey – for the customer and for the agent

Expanding the role of Microsoft Teams to include telephony brings a crucial benefit – employees can now handle all methods of communication within a single screen. For contact centre agents, this means instant access to all customer details and historical engagements, and a seamless omnichannel experience.

There is no danger of siloed data, departments or communications once the voice channel is fully integrated, removing common pain points of delayed access to information and difficulty transferring customers between different channels and agents. Businesses can also onboard powerful functionalities to enhance specific operations, using third-party integrated software.

Secure the bottom line, remove unnecessary expenditure – including PBXs

Looking beyond new capabilities and customer benefits, phasing out a legacy telephony system represents a significant reduction in capital expenditure for the business.

Business leaders can avoid the expense of maintaining a redundant PBX on-premises and eliminate associated recurring fees, including employment of dedicated technical staff in-house to maintain old PBXs.

Businesses can also move to a highly flexible, license-based model that can be scaled up or down based on user volume – ideal for organisations that experience seasonal surges in demand or are undergoing rapid business growth.

Act early and leap ahead of the competitions with end-to-end digitisation

With many organisations still considering how to make long-term remote and hybrid operations a reality, there is a golden opportunity to get ahead of the digital transformation curve and embrace the ‘contact centre of the future’.

Expanding the operational role of Microsoft Teams will provide extensive opportunities for sustained time and capacity savings, combined with powerful new telephony and communications capabilities.

This end-to-end deployment may not be a fit for every organisation’s structure, but Teams gives you the flexibility to choose – if this isn’t for you, it also supports full integration with an on-premise PBX or other telephony service.

Regardless of the approach business leaders opt for, one thing is clear – platforms such as Teams are here to stay, and by integrating powerful value-added software, organisations can adopt tailored, feature-rich support for their customer service.

About the Author

Anne-Meine Gramsma is Chief Commercial Officer, ContactCenter4ALL. Anne-Meine studied Business Administration in The Netherlands. His IT and Customer Contact track record was built by working for various ICT integrators and software vendors, including KPN. Focused on Customer Experience and achieving results with an innate ability for building relations, Anne-Meine is now responsible for global sales & marketing and partner support at ContactCenter4ALL.


Featured image: ©Bnenin