In November 2021 Microsoft first used the term “contact center” when referencing Dynamics 365 Customer Service. It was the first signal Microsoft are actively moving into the contact center space.
Dynamics 365 Customer Service leverages Azure Communication Service, the underlying platform that supports Microsoft Teams to add PSTN connectivity.
At Inspire, the Microsoft partner conference, July 2022, Microsoft showcased a much more expansive offering, “Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform”.
What is Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform?
It’s important to understand that Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform is not a single Product or SKU. It’s not a SaaS you buy “off the shelf”. The platform is more of a “playbook” or proposed architecture combining some or all of Dynamics 365, Nuance, Power Platform, Teams, and Azure.
Each of these products plays their own part:
- Dynamics 365 – Customer Engagement Center/Contact Center as a Service. Providing Omnichannel Engagement including Live Chat, SMS, Voice and Video (Azure Communication Services) and Virtual Agents
- Nuance – Contact Center AI, providing services including IVR, Voice biometrics, Authentication and Fraud Prevention
- Power Platform – Low-Code/No-Code Application Development, for automation and reporting (Power BI)
- Teams – Collaboration, providing integration options and swarming between the contact center and the rest of the organisation
- Azure – Global Cloud Infrastructure, providing the infrastructure for all these services and Azure Communication Services for SMS, PSTN and Video.
Combined, they can offer a next-generation “digital contact center”.
Currently, 500,000 organisations and 97% of the Fortune 500 use Dynamics 365 and Power Platform in some form, a great base for Microsoft to move more into the contact center space. The majority of contact centers, still use on-premises software, so there is a big market opportunity as they move to the cloud.
Can I integrate Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform with my existing Contact Center?
Absolutely. The platform is really a set of building block services. You don’t have to use all of them or have it as a complete end-to-end Microsoft Stack. Indeed Nuance is already very commonly used alongside contact centers such as Avaya, Genesys, and NICE.
Microsoft stressed heavily in the launch that being open and interoperable is a priority for them.
How does Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform for with Microsoft Teams?
It’s important to understand that Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform is not a “Teams Contact Center” in the sense that agents are not using Microsoft Teams. What Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform does offer is the ability to communicate between Dynamics and Microsoft Teams, which allows:
- With embedded Teams Chat a Dynamics agent to reach out to people in the organisation using Microsoft Teams to get additional support with a question or issue
- Microsoft Teams users can also interact directly with Dynamics 365 records
Embedded Teams Chat a Dynamics 365 and Swarming with Microsoft Teams
Based on the existing Agent/Customer conversation, AI can recommend people to collaborate within the organisation to help answer the question. AI can summarise the ask and send it out as a Teams message in the right pain of Dynamics. Note this is currently in Public Preview.
Here is an example of creating a Swarm. Swarming is a collaborative approach to customer service. Your agents bring in a team of skilled experts from across your organization to work with them to solve complex service cases.
The experts on Teams get a notification in Teams and if they accept they are brought together to work on the Swarm.
If they accept the expert can see all the case details right within Teams.
How much does Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform Cost?
This is a hard question to answer. As explained above Microsoft Digital Contact Center is really a combination of services, some per-user licenced, others as consumption services. Your combination of components and use them is likely to be different to someone else. The only real way to project a cost is to design it and make some projections as to service use.
Got a question about Microsoft Digital Contact Center Platform? Let me know in the comments, and I will try to find you an answer.