This post highlights a new calling capabilitiy for Microsoft Teams, voice-enabled channels. The feature’s release is planned for this month, March 2021.
What are Teams voice-enabled channels?
As the roadmap and information from the last Microsoft Ignite states so far: it enables channels in a Teams Team to receive incoming calls from PSTN via a Teams call queue. Today, you have to add agents or a group of agents to a Teams call queue, that they can receive calls. By voice-enabled channels you can create new channels, enable them for voice and than configure a call queue to route these calls into this voice-enabled channel.
This can be helpful for more collaborative telephony especially in Teams where the might have a need to quickly communicate via chat before, during and after a call received from PSTN.
Update 2021-04-01 – Configuration
Yesterday, 2021-03-31 it showed up in my tenant. You can configure voice-enabled channels easily either with an existing or new Team’s channel. The follow shows you on a high level how to configure voice-enabled channels in Teams?
Teams Admin Center (TAC)
After applying the channel selection and saving the call queue you can switch to the Teams channel or tell the users that the channel can soon receive calls. In my tenant it took some time till it showed up and worked.
Conclusion, opinion and summary
In my opinion, there are some use cases where the feature can help, not to mention the examples of the roadmap.
Voice-enabled channels might compensate today’s lack of a proper missed call notifications for (user-configured) call groups in Microsoft Teams, although an administrator has to configure a call queue with one or more numbers. In voice-enabled channels you can immediately communicate regarding a phone call and if you’ll get the ability to adjust the channel for calling as mentioned in the roadmap you might not need (user-configured) call groups where you have the issue that every user gets a missed call notification if no one would answer or you get a missed call notification without any feedback in regards of did someone else of the (user-configured) call group answer the call already or not. In the past, in SFB Enterprise Voice, as far as you used call groups you could see that you missed a call and which person of the call group answered it.
I think it can enable users, Teams owners, to better manage call settings for the respecitve group which reduces work for IT admins by giving Team owners the ability to manage their call (queue) channel settings by themselves instead of requesting IT support to do this for them. That’s a big advantage. So, this could be interesting, I guess that we might see a few Teams “hotlines” using call queues transfering from as-is to voice-enabled channels in order to self-manage their voice and calling settings. We’ll shall see.
At the time of writing this post, the capability was not yet available, at least not in my M365 tenant and the documentation was also not yet available providing further details. I’m looking forward to testing it.