An effective tool for call automation
Microsoft is slowly expanding the business capabilities of the Azure platform, adding services and APIs that enable message-driven workflows. Much of the development is built on the Service Bus backbone and the tools used to run Azure Functions and Azure App Service.
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Building a message-based, event-driven architecture on Azure makes a lot of sense. It’s a powerful and portable way to create distributed applications that can scale up and down as needed.
A growing set of APIs Azure communication services, which bridges distributed computing and voice communications, connecting code to public telephone networks and other communications services such as Teams. It’s a powerful tool that supports voice and video calls – both over the Internet and the phone network – as well as text messages via chat, SMS and email.
Automate Azure Communication Services
Azure Communication Service APIs make it easy to connect these technologies to your code so that your applications can directly access your clients and users. Perhaps the most interesting thing about these tools is that they allow you to create your own unique call center applications, adding multi-channel communication to customer service and sales tools or as part of a support platform.
When do things get interesting provides support for call automation, so sound becomes a direct part of work processes. Instead of integrating your applications into a digital call center, you can create a dedicated tool to properly manage and assign phone and web calls.
With this dedicated tool, you are not limited to pre-call forwarding; your code can handle the transfer of calls from one endpoint to another—for example, when escalating a customer service issue. It also supports click-to-call applications, either over the web or through an application, enabling fast video and audio connections between user applications and support desks.
Also, developing code for automation APIs is pretty easy. In addition to REST APIs, you can use C# or Java libraries to add functionality to new and existing applications.
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These are integrated with Azure’s event infrastructure, which allows you to build business logic around a call. This allows for the creation of tools to manage and classify call queues so that when a valuable customer’s call ends up in a queue, it can be prioritized or routed to a special operator.
Add automation to your code
THE C# and Java SDKs probably the most likely ways to structure corporate communication workflows. Both offer the same features, from setting up calls to working with existing calls and managing call recordings.
There is one important caveat: Once a call has been received, you can only transfer it between Azure Communication Services endpoints, as Microsoft has not yet managed to add the ability to forward calls to other phone numbers.
Calls are handled using asynchronous APIs, so you can launch a welcome message and queue a call for an agent at the same time. The code sits between the caller and the voice service they are using and only responds when new events arise.
Using asynchronous methods means that you don’t tie up resources waiting for responses, so users get the best response time while keeping computing costs to a minimum. With this approach, you can even route an incoming call to multiple endpoints so that any waiting agent can pick it up. Alternatively, calls can be diverted if not picked up in time, without the caller knowing the call has been diverted.
After the operation completes, it generates an event that your code must handle. Events are delivered using Azure Event Grid or Webhook, so you can use standard libraries and techniques to interact with them.
Notifications about incoming calls are delivered by the event grid, so you can use tools like Azure Functions to respond to calls and trigger a workflow. After the call is made, Webhooks delivers all subsequent events, which means you need to keep track of the context of the call in your code. Callback events are quite easy to use with tools built into .NET and Java.
Building your own unique call center
You’ll find that the service supports most of the features you’d expect in a PBX or call center, ensuring user familiarity and integration with existing workflows and tools. New apps can now take advantage of recently released Azure Communications Service UI components that simplify the integration of calls into your code and into services like Teams.
Automating the application’s inbound and outbound call flow can significantly reduce the burden on employees. For example, there are tools for decoding two-tone multi-frequency sounds to allow this you can create a custom interactive voice response service.
Alternatively, you can use the recording tools to take a voice message and then pass the recording to the speech recognition tools in Azure Cognitive Services, so the agent is pre-informed and ready to engage before starting the call. Likewise, any identifying information can be passed to Dynamics 365 for direct access to customer relationship management content.
This is perhaps the biggest advantage of using Azure Communications Services, the deep integration with the rest of the Azure platform and other Microsoft clouds. If you work with your own code and Microsoft services, you can even build more complex services faster with the low-code tools of Power Platform.
SEE: Discover how using low-code tools can make your IT team’s job easier.
There is another benefit to using these tools to build your own call center environment. Using a workflow to internally route calls through Azure, then you can provide a single external number for your services and hide all the numbers given to operators and other employees and use the same number for outgoing calls from customer service platforms. Protecting personal data is important to your staff, and using this technique will help you maintain it while still giving customers access to your support platform.
Microsoft continues to expand its communications APIs and provide tools for businesses of all sizes to use cloud telephony. With the ability to integrate features similar to Teams, the resulting applications fit well into existing business processes without significantly changing the way we work.
Read the following: Developments in Microsoft Dataverse are designed to help businesses use their data.