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What is Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)?

Computer Telephony Integration or CTI is a term that is used to describe the practice of tying your phone system together with your computer systems. It’s a practice that enables you to do a wide range of things that will improve sales and service including:

  • Identifying and routing incoming calls to the right person or department

  • Logging, recording and storing calls for quality assurance and compliance

  • Offering screen pops to your agents with information about the caller, their account, open cases or call history

  • Embedding a soft phone dial pad into your Salesforce interface so that calls can be made using VoIP (voice over internet protocol) or traditional PSTN (public switched telephone network)

  • Enabling agents to click-to-dial or auto-dial contacts

  • Monitoring and measuring key performance indicators like average handle time, first-call resolution, dropped call percentages and more.

As a leading provider of cloud-based telephony software for Salesforce, we are often asked to describe the benefits of CTI for Salesforce and to explain how CTI works in practice once deployed. In this post, I’ll explain why you should consider a Salesforce CTI solution and walk you through an example of how it helps you manage inbound calls. For a deeper dive, we’ve also published the Advanced Guide to Salesforce Telephony Integration, which I encourage you to review.

What are the benefits of Computer Telephony Integration?

Organizations use CTI to realize some profound benefits including helping their sales teams close more deals and their service departments improve overall customer satisfaction. Many benefits can be derived from integrating your phone system with your CRM for both sales and service organizations.

Sales reps are able to make more calls and reach more prospects over the phone using click-to-dial and automated dialing. They are also able to use information stored in their CRM to personalize and tailor conversations with prospects, which helps convert more leads into sales. Internet retailer, Six Pack Shortcuts, exemplifies these benefits. Their sales team was able to increase the average number of calls made per month from just over 10,000 to 62,000 while increasing deals closed per day by 227% using CTI for Salesforce.

CTI also helps improve service and support. Callers can use self-service, or access routing tools like interactive voice response (IVR) to reach the most appropriate live agent. The system can deliver calls to agents based on a variety of options including “next available agent,” or to an agent with the specific skills required to resolve a customer problem (skills-based routing). The most advanced systems now offer dynamic call routing, which allows the platform to deliver calls based on the information stored and continuously updated in your CRM. CTI helps service teams reduce call handle times and increase first call resolution rates by providing screen pops to agents with the information they need to resolve customer issues. JustGiving, the world’s largest fundraising site received many of these benefits. Using Salesforce CTI, they were able to boost customer satisfaction to 95% while delivering service in more than 160 countries.

How does Computer Telephony Integration for Salesforce Work?

So, how does Salesforce CTI actually work? Let’s me walk you through a simple example.

Modern telephony software can now be delivered through the cloud along with cloud-based CRM software like Salesforce. In fact, CTI has moved beyond traditional computer telephony integration where on-premise PDX/ACD software was integrated with on-premise CRM software, to true cloud-to-cloud telephony integration.

Figure-1 below illustrates the process of handling an incoming service call using cloud-to-cloud telephony integration between NewVoiceMedia and the Salesforce Service Cloud.

All telephony and call center software resides in the NewVoiceMedia cloud while CRM information lives in your org in the Salesforce cloud. Your NewVoiceMedia account(s) is connected directly to your Salesforce instance.

  1. In this example, a customer makes an inbound phone call to your company. This could be an existing phone number that you ported to NewVoiceMedia or a number provided by NewVoiceMedia and can be anywhere in the world (NewVoiceMedia provides numbers in 127 countries). NewVoiceMedia identifies the number dialed as well as the phone number of the incoming caller and uses that information to do a data dip into Salesforce.

  2. Salesforce then returns information about the caller, for example the contact record, lead or case. Additionally, information about the value or importance of the customer can be obtained to help prioritize the call – Are they a platinum customer? Is the caller the CIO? Is this a customer at risk of churning?

  3. Next, routing rules are used to determine which agent should receive the call. Once the appropriate agent is selected, the call is delivered to the agents SIP phone, soft phone or by ringing a traditional handset.

  4. Simultaneously, a screen pop is displayed to the agent with all of the relevant customer information retrieved from Salesforce. The agent can use that information to resolve the caller’s unique problem. Call time is also reduced because the agent doesn’t waste time fumbling through multiple systems to find information. The call is then logged, recorded and stored in the NewVoiceMedia cloud with a link to the recording added to the Salesforce record.

 

Figure 1 – Example of Cloud-to-Cloud Telephony Integration for Inbound Calls


That’s a quick illustration of how computer telephony integration (or cloud-to-cloud telephony integration) can help you improve customer service. For more examples and to see how CTI works for outbound calls please see our Salesforce CTI Guide.

 

 

Richard Dumas is the Regional Vice President of Demand Marketing at NewVoiceMedia