The contact centre glossary covers many of the most common vocabulary, measurements and technologies related to call centre software and customer experience.
At its most basic level, Computer Telephony Integration (or computer-telephony integration), or is any technology that allows interactions on a telephone and a computer to be integrated or coordinated. As contact channels have expanded from voice to include email, web, and fax, the definition of CTI has expanded to include the integration of all customer contact channels (voice, email, web, fax, etc.) with computer systems.
The Origins of CTI Integration
The beginning of CTI technology can be found in simple screen population (or “screen pop”) technology. This allows data collected from the telephone systems to be used as input data to query databases with customer information and populate that data instantaneously in the customer service representative screen. The net effect is the agent already has the required information on their desktop before speaking with the customer. The use of CTI has expanded to include a range of computer-phone connected functions that help improve the management of customer calls.
Who uses CTI?
CTI is typically used by call centers to connect a phone system to various applications, such as a customer database or CRM, to help companies reduce call handling time, improve agent efficiency and performance, create a better customer experience, and increase revenues. It can help companies gain a competitive edge and take a more data-driven approach to interacting with their callers.
By pushing information to the agent’s screen, companies can remove the time it takes a customer support rep to change between programs, manually search for customer information. Thus, they can handle calls more quickly in a high-volume call environment and provide faster service. With fast access to caller information, including history and context of calls and issues, agents can confidently and quickly solve customer problems.
Common Functions of CTI:
CTI capabilities provide a range of features for your premise or cloud call centre software to help improve productivity and efficiency with better call management. These advanced calling capabilities make agents’ jobs easier while providing better customer experiences. CTI applications provide the ability to do one or more of the following:
- Authenticate callers by screening the telephone number of the caller against a database to match it to a customer record
- Using touch-tone or voice inputs from the caller, determine how to process a call (such as forwarding it to the appropriate person or group)
- Provide interactive voice response (IVR) menus to callers for more advanced routing or self-service options
Match the number of a caller with a customer record and push it to the agent’s screen for reference when talking to the caller
- Collect and display messages or callback requests that have been left by callers
- Based on call input, initiate a smart application to assist the caller
6 Benefits of Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)
When implementing CTI technology, you essentially transform your corporate phone system into a computer program. This allows you to integrate your phone system with other software and applications to get better efficiency and productivity. Generally, the functionality of CTI is the main benefit in itself. Your team can handle more calls, reduce wait times, and have higher customer satisfaction. Overall, customers, agents and managers benefit from CTI and its functions. Let’s look at some of the other benefits of CTI:
1. Manage calls directly from their computer, without a phone set
CTI eliminates the need for separate hard phones, reducing costs and maintenance. Call centre agents can receive calls directly through their workstation, and integrated softphones let them place outbound calls. The system lets them handle all call controls (answer, hang up, transfer, hold, mute, conference, etc.) without needing a separate device.
2. Integrations can simplify agent tasks and streamline operations
A number of applications and programs can be integrated into your premise or cloud contact centre solution through your CTI system. The most common types are often CRM tools, such as the popular Salesforce platform. This allows companies to seamlessly insert CRM into the call flow. CTI pushes a screen pop of the caller’s information to the agent desktop by matching their credentials to existing entries in the CRM database. This gives agents instant access to customer information and history, without having to ask the customer to provide the same information every time they contact the organization. This one basic integration has the power to immediately help create a better customer experience and increase satisfaction while also improving the agent experience.
3. Agents know who they are talking to when they receive the call
CTI technology allows companies to send a screen pop to the agent with each call. This gives the agent detailed information about the caller (name, phone number, dialed number, email, account history, etc.) front and center on their desktop, as the call is being sent to them. The agent can greet the customer by name and have fast access to their relevant information. This significantly lowers call handle time and eliminates the need for agents to place callers on hold or ask them to wait while the agent searches for a customer record.
4. Automatic customer authentication for faster service
A CTI call center can automate caller authentication by comparing the phone number they called from, or information that they enter, to the company’s integrated database. This transparent action at the start of the call can help set the tone for the entire customer interaction. Agents know who is calling or can ensure that they are talking to the right party, and have access to basic customer details without having to ask the customer to repeat information (a common “pet peeve”) and without making the customer wait while they manually locate the information.
5. Combine relevant caller information to create a personalized experience
CTI integration makes it easy to help streamline agent tasks and workflows by consolidating information from multiple data sources into a single location in the unified agent desktop. Computer telephony integration puts call logs (call history, recordings, transcripts, metrics, etc.) and other critical caller details (personal data, account status, orders, etc.) in one common agent interface. This improves agent efficiency and gives them a total view of the customer in order to provide faster, more personalized service.
6. Route calls more efficiently and track results
With CTI technology, a company’s telephony, inbound, outbound, IVR, skills-based routing, recording, analytics, reporting, and more are all integrated with their databases and business tools. This allows for more efficient and effective routing of calls. With CTI call centers, all calls are logged automatically in real time, and all call data is saved along with it. This information can be used to target KPIs, measure performance, and improve agent training. Call recordings and logs can also be key to tracking customer experience and to handling potential disputes that might occur after the call has been made.
In today’s busy contact centres, help desks, sales teams or customer service departments, agents are tasked with handling a high volume of calls while delivering flawless service to every customer. It is essential that companies have the right tools in place to help their team members work more efficiently. Using CTI technology to integrate the company’s telephone and business systems, while offering a rich set of call management features, can help increase productivity rates, minimize wait times and hold queues, and grow the customer relationship with every interaction.