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Written: 24/04/2021 | Updated: N/A

I remember Ignite 2020 well. Uber long days and an obscene amount of awesome content that between speaking and moderating it was an all-you-can-eat buffet both live and on demand. Day 1 was frontloaded with so many big sessions on Teams. After Satya, it was Jared Spataro. After Jared, it was Jeff. Then after Jeff, it was Nicole Herskowitz. Then it was Christina Torok and so on and so forth. After taking a ‘break’ moderating a 90 minute Learn session with worldwide learning on Teams which washed up about 10pm it was back into the fray. Sec. Power Platform. Yet the way my schedule panned out I ended that first day watching a double header on Teams calling. The first was with Paul Cannon which was the live session and the second was the advanced calling session on demand. Whilst the second session was valuable simply for the announcement of dynamic CLID which I’d been getting asked for a lot, it was the first – the one with Cannon which really had the goods. First, Collaborative Calling. Second, a refresh of the Calling UX. Now, the refresh was good, clever – shifting the dial pad and basing the app around call history because not only was it streamlining a number of unnecessary pages it was predicating calling on calls as opposed to contacts. But the real gold was collaborative calling. This is the ability to connect a call queue to a teams channel where users can collaborate and share information in the channel while taking calls in the queue. Many admins I knew had wanted it and wanted it bad. For a long long time. Yes, it wasn’t comms credits in CSP, nor was it smaller domestic SKU’s – I think there will be celebrations when these occur, but oversight of a call queue where every member assigned to that call queue can work together: this is a big gap that Microsoft committed to plugging. I thought personally it was one of the best announcements of Ignite 2020. It’s a real quality add and it’s awesome that it’s finally here.

This blog will cover

  • Setting up Collaborative Calling
  • Observations

For the purpose of length, not all actions – such as creating elements of the Call Queue will be covered step by step. Please refer to past blogs – such as this one to set up a call queue – in order to do this

Prerequisites

  • Teams Admin, Global Admin or Teams Communications Admin permissions to implement
  • Teams Licence (Usually within an Office 365/Microsoft 365 Licence) and desktop client installed to test

Setting up Collaborate Calling

1.) Ok, Collaborative Calling is adding a Call Queue to a channel in a Team. The first thing you should do is ensure that you have set up the Team and have all the members in that Team. Here, I have set up a Team called Helpdesk which has all the members who will take calls from the call queue.

If required, add a channel to the Team which will be specifically used for the Call Queue. The one here has been setup called Calls

2.) As the call queue will be added to a Team which already has a Microsoft 365 Group, you do not have to create anything like a security group or a distribution list in the Microsoft 365 admin centre for the members who will be assigned to the call queue. As shown here, the Microsoft 365 group Helpdesk is already created after creating the team

3.) Ensure that those in the team and who will be answering the calls from the call queue are correctly licenced in the Microsoft 365 admin centre, with Phone System and a calling plan

4.) In the Teams Admin Centre, add your Resource Accounts in the org-wide settings. Here shows a resource account for an Auto Attendant and one for the Call Queue which we will use

5.) Assign the call queue a Phone System Virtual Licence (or a real licence if required). This is an additional licence which can be purchased through the Microsoft 365 admin centre, and even though it is free (£0.00) you will still need a credit card to purchase it

6.) Now we are ready to add Collaborative Calling. We have the Team and channel in place which the call queue will go in and the correct members added to that Team who are correctly licenced. We have the resource account for the call queue in place. That resource account has the correct licence assigned. We now need to go build the call queue

In the Teams Admin Centre, select Voice, then Call Queues then Add

7.) Give the call queue a name (here Helpdesk Call Queue), link the resource account previously set up, set the language, the greeting and music on hold

8.) We now get to the setting up collaborative calling under Call Answering. Traditionally we would choose users or a group. Now, we can choose a Team. Select Add a Channel

9.) Search for and add the required team

10.) Set the channel from the drop down then apply

11.) The Team and channel are now configured

10.) Continue with the rest of the call queue options including routing method, call overflow handling and call time out handling and once done select save

11.) The call queue is now created. At this point you may want to take additional actions such as assigning a number to the call queue, or adding the call queue to an auto attendant

12.) Our job here is done. A new Calls tab will now show in the Teams Desktop Client (not the web client)

Awesome!

Observations

Q.) Does the call queue show in both the desktop and web client?

At the time of writing looks to be only the desktop client is supported. The calls tab doesn’t show in the web client when it does in the desktop client

Q.) Can the General Channel of a team be used?

Yes see here

Q.) Can a Private Channel be used?

At the time of writing not currently supported. Only standard channels appear in the TAC configuration

Q.) Can the call queue be surfaced in multiple channels?

Not supported. The TAC configuration only allows one team one channel per call queue

Q.) Can call queues be moved from channel to channel and from Team to Team?

Yes, simply change the channel and the Team in the TAC Configuration

Q.) Does shifting the call queue across Channels and Teams keep it’s history

Yes

Q.) If you have assigned a number to a call queue does using the dial pad call out as the call queue number?

No, at the time of writing it will call out as your personal number which is underneath the dial pad. However, you could always look to work around that and amend through CLID Policy in the TAC

Q.) How long does the history take to show up

It looks to take some time. It isn’t instant. Switching out to another team didn’t help a great deal, but logging out and back in did refresh it. At the time of writing the history isn’t 100% accurate either: whilst other agents answer calls it looks like you are the one which answered the call which could be an issue for compliance

Conclusion

Overall, this is a great add which is certainly going to get better as it’s refined, and clearly has a lot of potential. The setup is very simple and it’s almost like for like with the steps for setting up other call queues. No real gotchas such as locking in the call queues to channels so you couldn’t move them. I personally think it would be great to see the stats on the agents within Teams and have this in real time, as well as the metrics such as time out of queue, average call time – features which are already served in solutions by third party vendors for direct routing. This is the kind of analytics we are going to see in meetings and webinars. In terms of the ability to use it in the web client will likely come in time as functionality in the web always follows the desktop. If there is one thing that ought to be a focus in the immediate term it is probably the real time display of the call history. It’s not going to be very practical for users to switch out to Teams or out of the client to get the latest history and be able to respond very quickly. This may impact real world implementation in the short term. Real time presence too when others are on calls is slower than usual which is going to be problematic knowing if other members of the team are available or not. One thing which would be good here – and returning to the introduction is Dynamic CLID which we may see in the future – and even the ability to implement that in the TAC so that every call which is made out of the channel through its dial pad uses the service number. I can see many organisations that may try this out collaborative calling for one or two teams, however my gut is that most will wait for it to mature just a little bit and then 100% this will be a staple for rollouts in Teams voice implementations

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