Considering teams for your contact center?
Why businesses choose to use a CCaaSEvery business needs to maintain good contact with its customers. A Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) provider helps companies fulfill this need. CCaaS solutions consist of various software tools that businesses can use to support various kinds of customer contact, via voice calls, SMS, webchats, and social messaging. But, as we’ll see, not all CCaaS solutions are created equal - and some are much better for growing businesses.
The connect model and extend model explained
The Teams platform is reliable, secure, and productive – but it isn’t properly equipped to handle external communications or omnichannel contact on its own.
While calling via Teams is a common business practice, your customers often get in touch by WhatsApp, regular voice call, or other means.
To handle this, Teams needs extra powers, and there are two models for this: the Connect model, and the Extend model.
The Connect model
With the Connect model, your Teams client is connected to a third-party service which facilitates all the CCaaS magic using a piece of software, typically operating on remote cloud servers in combination with session border controllers (SBCs) and direct routing. This way, Teams becomes a window from which the user can access the full Contact Center functionality. Another way to think of this setup is that your contact center is somewhere else, and you use Teams to access it remotely. It’s really a separate product that’s wearing a ‘Teams costume.’
The Extend model
By contrast, the Extend model gives Teams the required capabilities by building them onto the Teams infrastructure itself. Extend model CCaaS platforms use the Teams client platform and a selection of APIs to integrate directly with Teams. With the Extend model, incoming calls use your Teams phone system (no external SBCs or direct-routing required), and other channels are directed straight into Teams as well.
With the Extend model, there’s a degree more freedom to choose which features you want, and it’s far easier to use tools like Azure bots and integrate with any number of additional resources like CRMs, ERPs, and AI tools.
Why would you use the connect model?
Is this the right fit for you? According to Microsoft, the reason for using the connect model is: “If you want to use certified SBCs and Direct Routing to connect a contact center solution to Teams”. For businesses familiar with PSTN and PBX call centers, a Connect model solution is more similar to what they’re already used to. These solutions essentially connect traditional calling infrastructure to Teams via a variety of cloud services like SBCs, SIP trunks, and direct routing.
It might sound harsh, but the Connect model is probably far more convenient for the developers of these solutions than it is for businesses that just want great Contact Centers with minimal effort.
It’s important to understand that the connect model exists for one purpose: to connect legacy call center infrastructure to the Teams interface. When we look back at the 1990s, the reason for this is clear: ‘cloud’ and ‘VoIP’ technologies were rapidly replacing static, on-premise PBX systems. Some companies operating in the call center sphere have only retained relevance in the digital age through a series of acquisitions; each of these adding more modern technology onto older systems - eventually becoming the first cloud VoIP / call center solutions which emerged in the 2010s. But technology moves fast, however.
So, just as these cloud solutions reached the market, platforms like Teams and Webex had already become established forces. Within a short time, Teams had become the dominant platform for business communications and productivity.
To accommodate this shift in the user-base, the connect model was needed to connect these systems to Teams. After just a few years, those early call center and VoIP pioneers were offering Teams-connected versions of their cloud products, enabling Teams users to gain access to their products via a familiar interface.
However, none of these are good reasons to choose a Connect model when powerful, made-for-Teams alternatives are already available.
Why the Extend model is better for businesses
The Extend model allows CCaaS solutions to offer the additional functionality as a Teams-native app. This has some huge advantages over Connect-model solutions.
Fewer moving parts
Instead of Teams being only a ‘window’ for a distant, third-party cloud service, the Extend model means everything takes place within the Teams client itself.
As a result, the architecture of these systems is far simpler, with data moving directly into Teams and then directly back to your own resources, like CRMs and ERPs.
The benefits of this simplified architecture can be seen in many areas. The latency is far lower, for example, and the overall stability is very high. There are no call requests to third-party software, and less potential for problems. When data and calls are routed around the globe through a complex cloud infrastructure, there are many more potential points for failure. Like any long journey, the more connections involved, the greater the chance of something happening going amiss. And there’s always a delay.
Lower costs, greater efficiency
As a result of this streamlined architecture, the Extend model also has a lower running cost. Extend model Teams Contact Center solutions like ROGER365.io run entirely within Teams, meaning no external servers are needed for supporting extra software. This means that the cost structure is more growth friendly, as these solutions can be priced per platform, instead of per user. For businesses that have more than 5 customer service agents (or plan to at some point in the future), an Extend model solution like ROGER365.io is better value for money than a Connect-model solution. And, with every additional agent, it gets even more cost effective.
Optimal uptime of the reliable Teams platform
Finally, businesses gain additional reassurance from having everything within Teams, and staying within the reliable Teams platform. Due to seamless integration with the Teams platform, your processes can remain fully compliant and secure. It’s good to know that the SLA for Teams is very high, with practically zero downtime. Teams compares very favorably, boasting an excellent 99.99% uptime for Calling Plans, Phone system, and Audio conferencing. This means that businesses can choose a more cost-effective Contact Center that’s just as reliable as almost every other alternative. As a plus, Extend-model solutions can be much more flexible too – so businesses can create the perfect solution for their business, with any custom integration they want.
The open architecture of ROGER365.io
ROGER365.io is a Microsoft-certified Extend solution for Teams Contact Center, built with a standards-based architecture that gives business users the ultimate flexibility for configuring their own workflows and processes. With a selection of APIs, businesses can integrate their Teams Contact Center with any application, resource, or service. This enables users to create powerful automations that save time and boost efficiency. Additional third-party tools can also be integrated, such as chatbots, AI tools, and text-to-speech – if you need them.
The standards-based architecture of ROGER365.io means that it’s easier to integrate new technologies as they emerge, and this is how the solution was able to offer the world’s first Teams-native Omnichannel Contact Center. Unlike other solutions, the ROGER365.io omnichannel Contact Center handles all channels directly within Teams, making these channels equally secure and compliant. Given the risks of shadow IT and the big fines that can result from the improper handling of WhatsApp communications, this is a smart way to deal with this issue.
Up and running within minutes
Extend-model CCaaS solutions are Teams-native apps that are easy to install and configure, without any need for external support. When custom integrations are needed, your IT team or a ROGER365.io partner can ensure that these are set up properly using the available APIs. To get started, a business only needs to go to the Microsoft AppSource store and download the app. It takes just 25 minutes or so to set up, and a similar time to configure special interfaces like the Supervisor app or Attendant Console for Teams Contact Center. Want to try it out with no risk? Start your free 14 day trial today, and discover how easy it is to offer first-class service, with a customizable toolkit that fits your business perfectly.
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What is ROGER365.io?
ROGER365.io has developed a Microsoft-certified omnichannel contact center solution for Teams. It brings all communication channels, resources, and processes into a single view, and enables businesses to consolidate their workflows into a single, powerful interface.
To learn more, or start a free 14 day trial, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the extend model of Microsoft Teams?
The Extend model for Teams contact centers means that Microsoft Teams is the user client, with the CCaaS solution extending the native capabilities of Teams without losing any of the benefits or functionality of Teams itself. With the extend model, organizations can use a Teams calling plan, or operator-connect or direct routing if they choose.
What is CCaaS software?
Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) software provides organizations with contact center capabilities without needing to install specialized on-premise hardware or software. Instead, the CCaaS software carries out all the functions of the contact center using cloud hosting or with an integration with a business platform like Teams. Using a third-party cloud-hosted option is a popular option, but these solutions are inherently less stable and suffer from more latency and compliance issues compared to an extend-model solution for Teams.
Is CCaaS cloud based?
CCaaS is not necessarily cloud-based, although almost all IT infrastructure now depends on cloud elements to some extent. Some CCaaS solutions are cloud-based by design, using the connect model to connect these remote services to Teams – but these experience greater latency issues and are less flexible or adaptable to individual business contexts. By contrast, an extend model CCaaS solution can offer greater flexibility, a simplified architecture, lower latency, and is all within the secure Teams framework.
How much does a CCaaS cost?
The cost of CCaaS solutions is variable depending on the provider and how they charge. Some providers levy a charge per user, while others just charge a flat subscription per call queue/plan. CCaaS solutions can get very expensive if they are priced per user, because as an organization grows it will need to add more users and this makes it harder to offer cost effective service at scale. By contrast, a CCaaS that charges per subscription/queue gives a base cost that makes the contact center more efficient as it grows, and easier to scale up or down as needed without having to renegotiate a contract.