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Microsoft Teams as a Contact Center solution: integration models

There are numerous third-party solutions available for this including those provided by certified partners like Third-party solutions like these can greatly increase the capabilities of Microsoft Teams by integrating with numerous enterprise applications and enabling automations that boost efficiency.

There are three different approaches to giving Teams the skills it needs to serve your customer’s needs, and these are called the Extend, Connect, and Power models. 

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Building Teams’ Contact Center capability: Extend model vs. Connect model vs. Power model

There are three models that add full contact center functionalities to Microsoft Teams: the Extend model, Connect model, and Power model. Each of these is different, and offers unique benefits and drawbacks.

1.The Extend model

Let’s start with the Extend model, as this is most relevant for businesses. The Extend model can use either Operator Connect, direct-routing, or a Teams calling plan for voice calls. Microsoft Teams remains the user client in this setup, with the contact center solution extending the capability of Teams without losing any of the Teams functionality.
With any solution, there is always a concern over voice call quality and the handling of information including media flows. As everything stays within the user’s Teams tenant, call quality is generally better and latency is very low with the Extend model. There is also less of an issue regarding compliance and security as all data stays within Teams.

Using APIs, CCaaS providers using the Extend model can add a vast range of functionalities to Teams. This is the ideal combination for most businesses as it can become completely tailored to the existing processes and software packages being used, while causing minimal disruption. Call control stays within Teams, and the infrastructure is simplified. The secure and familiar Teams framework then becomes a secure hub for all communications and connected processes. It can potentially work with numerous integrations including CRMs, Chatbots and Social Channels.

The Extend model is best suited for businesses that plan to grow in the future, and whose requirements might also need to adapt and change. Be aware, not all Extend model solutions offer the flexibility required, so attention should be paid to whether a provider can integrate with your specific software, or have the capability to add custom integrations.

2. The Connect model

The Connect model is a direct-routing method that uses certified Session Border Controllers (SBCs) to make a connection between the CCaaS and the Teams infrastructure. The level of integration is relatively ‘light and casual’, with the contact center software using only limited aspects of Teams’ functionality. As calls are forwarded to Teams from the SBC, data passes outside of the secure Teams framework, meaning there’s the potential security liability to consider. The advantages of the Connect model are that it can potentially work with other communications platforms (eg. Webex, Slack), while being quick, cheap, and simple. However, this design can also lead to latency issues, and the possibility for loss of quality for both voice calls and media. Connecting to multiple communications platforms is also not necessarily an advantage, and there is concern about data security if this is not actively managed. It is best suited to voice-only call centers.

3. The Power model

The ‘Power model’ has a great deal of promise, but is still a theoretical framework. Solutions using this model have yet to emerge.
The general idea is that Teams (and all its functionality) becomes embedded in a third-party app, which is then ‘powered’ by Teams. According to Microsoft, the goal of the power model is “to provide a one-app, one-screen contact center experience.”
CCaaS providers are anxiously waiting to see how this might evolve, but it is likely that many of those currently offering Extend model solutions will be able to adapt these into a Power Model using Software Development Kits (SDKs) from Microsoft. Some extend-model providers already offer a seamless ‘one dashboard’ experience, so the power model is not necessarily a massive step-up from an adaptable extend-model.

Which model is best?

As you may have guessed, the Extend model is the only one that truly makes sense for most businesses. It enables everything to be accessed directly from Teams (CRMs, ERPs, etc.,), ensures data compliance, provides the best call quality, and gives users the (potential) ability to customize with bots and app integrations. However, not all Extend model CCaaS providers offer this full flexibility. Many provide a fixed ‘total package’, or are limited to approved pre-built integrations. 
Choosing a provider isn’t easy, and takes some time to research and compare the options. If you want to learn more about some of the leading CCaaS providers, and how they compare you can read more here.


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How to Choose the right CCaaS platform for your organization

Once you start diving into the details, the options can become even less clear. A CCaaS must provide two things: all the capabilities and functions needed today, and the flexibility to grow and adapt to the needs of the future. First of all is Data compliance.

Risk mitigation must be part of any decision-making process for IT and communications. By keeping everything in the secure Teams platform, risks associated with data handling are greatly reduced and role-based access is easily enforced. Even if malicious attacks weren’t a concern, the potential for inadvertent errors in data handling is much higher when data must travel outside the secure Teams platform.

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Frequently Asked Questions


What CRM works with Microsoft Teams?

Teams can be integrated with several of the major CRMs, however these deliver the most benefit when they are integrated with, so that everything is managed from a central and secure hub.

Can you integrate Teams and WhatsApp?  

WhatsApp for Business has revolutionized customer communications and contact centers, so many people want to know how they can integrate WhatsApp with Microsoft Teams. You can use the WhatsApp for Business API to build an integration using a developer, however it is easier to use the built-in integration offered by This is easy to set up, and several channels and apps can be integrated with the same process.

Does Microsoft Teams have a Contact Center?

Microsoft Teams doesn’t offer Contact Center functionality, but there are several extend-model solutions that can uplift Teams into a full Contact Center. These include Microsoft partners like, and now also Microsoft’s own Cloud Contact Center solution.

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