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 percent 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, but businesses should be more ambitious with their long-term digital planning. Retiring legacy PBX systems will allow businesses to streamline their infrastructure and enhance contact center operations, achieving significant cost and management benefits.

If there was one small positive from 18 months of mass global disruption, it was the success and advanced capabilities that came with deployment of large-scale remote operations, underpinned by powerful digital communication and collaboration platforms. Solutions such as Microsoft Teams have proven themselves as truly enterprise-grade platforms, capable of supporting remote, hybrid and on-premise operations – with Teams users rising from 32 million pre-pandemic to 145 million in 2021.

From ‘traditional’ telephony to Teams

With many businesses preparing to embrace permanent remote or hybrid working strategies, what does the future hold for Teams? Many businesses are actively exploring how to expand the platform’s role within their organizations, to serve as a primary telephony platform and power critical operations such as customer service and support.

The highly customizable nature of Teams means the possibilities for telephony don’t stop at simply handling inbound and outbound calls. Enhancing the solution with dedicated contact center software for Teams provides organizations with an all-in-one communications platform that supports omnichannel contact center 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 organizations 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-premises telephony system is minimal. This paves the way for businesses to retire their legacy on-premises PBX.

Beyond the core benefit of replacing outdated phone systems with a future-proof digital platform, businesses stand to gain sustained value in both front- and back-office operations:

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 such an old, outdated system in parallel – which often bring security, support and integration challenges.

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 center 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 center agents, this means instant access to all customer details and historical engagements, and a seamless omnichannel experience – inquiries can be handled effortlessly across the customer’s channel of choice.

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 certain operations, using third-party integrated software. Take contact center operations as a prime example. Skill-based routing, call recording, streamlined workflows and customizable queues can all be introduced via the software – there is no need for a separate, standalone system to add features to enhance the customer experience.

Remove unnecessary expenditure – including the PBX

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. There is also no need to employ dedicated technical staff in-house to maintain old PBXs – expertise that is increasingly expensive as telephony systems become older and more niche.

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

Act early and leap ahead of the competition with end-to-end digitization

With many organizations still considering how to actually 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 center of the future’ while competitors are burdened by costly legacy systems and inefficiencies. 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 organization’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 – Microsoft Teams is here to stay, and by integrating powerful value-added software, organizations can adopt tailored, feature-rich support for their customer service.

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