Microsoft announce ‘voice channel’ general availability for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service.
Now, Microsoft 365 Dynamics customers can consolidate some of their technology capabilities by utilising a Microsoft contact centre built for native 365 Dynamics integration.
The contact centre capability is built utilising the same technology as Microsoft Teams and is intended for customers who want “a single, one-stop Microsoft solution”. Though, there is still contact centre integration support for Five9, Genesys, NICE, Solgari, Tenfold, Vonage and others.
Microsoft enters the contact centre market
This play sees Microsoft officially enter the cloud contact centre space to directly challenge cloud native contact centre providers like Five9, TalkDesk, Ujet and others.
When compared to these providers, there’s one thing that differentiates Microsoft immensely: native AI capabilities.
Native Microsoft AI capabilities
To enable customers to work smarter, manage demand and improve customer experience, Microsoft has made AI a default technology included within the Dynamics 365 contact centre. It includes native and built-in capabilities such as:
- Real-time transcription. This is the capability to transcribe calls in real time and print transcriptions on the agent’s screen. No more asking customers to repeat themselves.
- Live sentiment analysis. Understanding the emotional state of the user enables agents to react and develop empathy for customers.
- Proactive, AI-driven recommendations. This is built-in agent assist technologies which will recommend next best actions and knowledge base articles to agents based on the content of the call, in real time.
- Real-time translation. This will enable agents to take calls with any customer, no matter which language they speak, and be able to understand the nature of the call.
- Native virtual agent support. The ability to natively integrate Microsoft Power Virtual Agents means that customers can build and deploy automated voice conversations to enable AI-powered self-service capabilities within IVR.
- AI-based routing. This is the ability to automatically route calls to the right agents means less internal transfers and improved, quicker customer experience.
- AI analytics. The capability to understand and extract insights from calls automatically to identify customer needs, pain points and opportunities to improve.
AI as a differentiator
Having this native AI support is a true differentiator for Microsoft’s contact centre offering, especially given the technical capabilities Microsoft has on the AI front. You can tell just how important AI support is given the press release: 7 out of 10 features listed are native AI features.
Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Cognitive Services power globally deployed voice assistants at immense scale. Swisscom and BBC are just two examples of organisations building their entire voice AI capabilities in Microsoft’s Cloud and its Azure Bot Framework. Bringing this level of scale, power, reliability and accuracy into the contact centre gives Microsoft an almost unrivalled position.
Most other contact centre providers are responding to the growing need to include AI capabilities within contact centre operations. However, there isn’t a great deal that have either completely native support or the sheer scale or proven reliability as Microsoft.
Many competing offerings require a heavy lift to integrate these AI capabilities, and most don’t have proven technology already working at scale.
Who can compete with Microsoft’s contact centre AI?
Perhaps the only companies with comparative AI capabilities are Amazon, Google and IBM. But the latter two companies don’t have their own contact centre offering.
When it comes to native AI support for contact centres, it would seem that the only company who can really compete is Amazon with its Connect contact centre and AWS cognitive services. Other contact centre providers are mostly partnering with Google CCAI to integrate Google Cloud Platform’s cognitive services into their offerings.
While there is absolutely great potential with Google’s CCAI capabilities – contact centre providers that don’t have their own AI capabilities will be hard pushed to find a better partner – however, a contact centre built from the ground up with Microsoft AI at its core is an interesting proposition. A proposition that would certainly warrant serious consideration.