By: Dr. Gustavo E. Perez-Lopez
When I wrote my previous blog giving abundant reasons to start planning your migration from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, I couldn’t have imagined that in just a few months we would be experiencing a sudden and massive increase of Microsoft Teams users worldwide. Nor that MS Teams would become a critical business continuity tool for many customers. The main reason - potentially the worst global pandemic of this century: COVID-19.
Almost overnight, working, learning and living online became the new daily experience for hundreds of millions of people as schools, offices, factories and many other businesses closed down in an attempt to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection.
Fortunately for many, Microsoft Teams and a handful of other modern collaboration platforms and digital technologies are available to facilitate new ways of conducting business online and support the sudden challenges that almost every industry is facing due the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Geomant we have been actively using Microsoft Teams for over two years now and it has become our de facto digital workplace for communication and collaboration. Many of our employees do home working on a regular basis, and for us it was a seamless, almost imperceptible transition when our CEO announced that until further notice we were all going to be working from home.
However, for many schools and businesses that chose MS Teams as their online collaboration workspace, this was rather an unplanned and abrupt transition, with little to no preparation time or previous knowledge of how to use it.
In this blog I’ll share some ideas and advice on how you could potentially use this great platform to work from home in smarter ways, as we get over the pandemic and prepare for what will come after.
Maximize your benefits with a Teamwork Adoption programme
If your company had to deploy Microsoft Teams in a matter of days to hundreds or thousands of employees, the odds are high that you didn’t have time to adequately plan and prepare your organization’s transition to the new technology.
Adopting Microsoft Teams represents a change in behavior and brings a fundamentally different way of working. It requires people to change, but change is hard and doesn’t happen automatically.
Now that you’ve solved the immediate business need to enable home working or distance learning, you can invest in taking full advantage and maximizing the benefits of using MS Teams by running a teamwork adoption programme post-launch. Have a look at Geomant Teamwork Adoption to get an idea what to expect.
Make the most of your meetings with Teams
The time spent by MS Teams users in online meetings reached 2.7 billion minutes on 31 March 2020[i]. This makes Meetings perhaps the most heavily used function of Microsoft Teams since we entered the COVID-19 era – as the digital substitute for physical meetings.
Meetings with Teams can be a totally new experience. For events with a large audience (over 250 participants), e.g. a university lecture, an all-employee meeting or a sales webinar, Teams Live Events gives you the ability to broadcast an event for up to 10,000 attendees. It also provides more options for professionally running the event, resulting in a superior attendee experience.
And planning a few months ahead, you might well consider Microsoft Teams Rooms to bring the already familiar and rich MS Teams collaboration experience to traditional office meeting spaces and conference rooms, including HD video, audio and intelligent content sharing.
Enable calling from Teams and replace your old PBX system
I assume you’re now routinely collaborating, chatting, emailing and meeting online with Teams and Office 365. What you might not know is that Microsoft Teams can be equipped with a cloud-based Phone System and easily transformed into your new office PBX (Private Branch Exchange).
Phone System enables Teams users to place and receive calls, transfer phone calls and more over the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network). Simply click a name in your address book and initiate a Teams call to your counterpart. Of course, this functionality is available across your mobile devices, or using a headset with your laptop or PC. However, if you love to call from a desk phone there is a growing catalogue of Microsoft Teams-certified IP phones that you can choose from.
To connect the Phone System to the PSTN, you can purchase a Microsoft Calling Plan available in certain countries, or you could configure Teams Direct Routing, which allows you to keep your incumbent local PSTN provider.
Extend MS Teams to handle customer interactions across multiple channels
One of the most valuable features of Microsoft Teams as a digital collaboration platform is the ability to add functionality to Teams that empowers your business to run more efficiently and in new innovative ways.
For instance, Buzzeasy Contact Center for Teams is a native Microsoft Teams Contact Center application that enables MS Teams users to handle customer interactions in real time effortlessly across multiple channels including voice, email, webchat and the most popular messaging platforms such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, etc.
By adding Contact Center / call center functionality to Teams, it becomes your all-in-one collaboration and communications platform, not only for internal communications, but to your customers as well, in an easy and cost effective way that aids customer experience.
Implement recording and compliance with Teams
If you are planning to use Microsoft Teams for enterprise communication and collaboration, including handling your customer interactions, sooner or later you’ll need to address compliance.
Compliance requirements can be dictated on one side by industry and local regulations. However, you may also want to implement recording of your team’s communications with customers for quality and training purposes.
The Verint interaction recording solution is one of the first in the market to address recording and compliance for Microsoft Teams. It empowers Teams users to stay compliant by recording any type of Teams communications, including voice, video, meetings and chat conversations.
In the month or two that COVID-19 pushed home a third of the world population, employees and customers, teachers and students, parents and children have had to quickly adapt to a new way of doing business, teaching and learning in the online world.
Microsoft Teams is not just an effective home working and online meeting tool, but is a highly adaptable and powerful digital platform that can lead to serious and innovative transformation.
I’ve shared just a few examples of what Microsoft Teams has to offer and I do hope that you’ll find many more creative and smart ways to use Teams to your advantage. These investments, and their benefits, will remain with us even after the pandemic slows down and eventually life returns to normal. Will normal be the same after COVID-19?