What Is Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)? A Call Center Guide
This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
Computer telephony integration (CTI) is a technology that connects a phone system to a computer or mobile device, eliminating the need for a landline phone. It is primarily used in call centers to manage inbound and outbound calls with the goal to improve call efficiency and simplify call management. In this article, we explore what is CTI in call centers and its benefits for small to medium-sized businesses.
How Computer Telephony Integration Works
CTI works by using voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) technology to turn a computer into an extension of a business phone system. This allows you to perform various telephony functions, including the ability to answer, mute, hold, transfer, and hang up calls.
CTI links with business applications like ticketing platforms, help desks, and customer relationship management (CRM) software. When a call comes in, the system verifies the caller’s contact details with the CRM database. The agent will now be able to access all relevant information about the caller, including billing history, location details, and past call logs, within a single interface.
Key Features of CTI
Aside from adding phone controls to your computer, a CTI phone system does more. It comes with a screen pop, automatic dialers, and reporting functionality. To learn more about these functions, click on the tabs below to discover some key CTI features:
Screen pop is a popular CTI feature that automatically displays caller information on agents’ screens once a call arrives. These include the client’s profile, interaction history, past orders, or agent notes. Instead of wasting time asking for and confirming customer information, the screen pop feature provides all relevant details within a single interface.
In an outbound call center, automatic dialing saves agents’ time by skipping the actual dialing process. With CTI, the software automatically dials a list of phone numbers on a lead list and connects the call to an agent after someone is on the line. Thus, improving your outbound calling efforts.
There are four auto-dialing modes: predictive, power, preview, and progressive. To understand how each type works, read our guide on how outbound dialers work.
Interactive voice response is a CTI-based technology that manages incoming callers by routing them to where they need to be. Unlike an auto-attendant, which is a more simplified routing system, an IVR system uses voice inputs and machine learning to manage calls.
CTI systems also allow robust reporting functionality to help understand overall call center performance. It monitors key metrics in real time and provides detailed reports with intuitive data, including call volumes, call duration, and agent productivity. Learn more about this in our article about call center reporting.
CTI makes call coaching relatively easy by allowing supervisors to listen, whisper, and barge in on an active call between an agent and a customer. This way, the supervisor is able to provide assistance to the agent for the purpose of quality assurance, training, and customer service.
Benefits of Computer Telephony Integration
There are plenty of ways CTI enhances the efficiency of call center operations, from collecting caller information to customizing call flow and speeding up the call handling process. To better understand the benefits of CTI as a call center technology, click on each item below:
CTI-based phone systems eliminate the use of desk phones, which are expensive to set up and maintain. Since CTI is deeply integrated with your business software, agents only need to log in and work from their computer or even a mobile device. This makes CTI cheaper to implement, especially if your staff needs to be remote.
Increased Agent Productivity
CTI is a vital tool for call center agents when it comes to automating routine tasks and deflecting queries that don’t require a live agent. Agents don’t have to deal with every incoming call because call routing capabilities will take care of it. Plus, linking CTI with your customer relationship management (CRM) system enhances agent efficiency since they don’t need to dig through several databases or switch between tabs to access customer information.
Enhanced Customer Experience
With the screen pop feature, customers don’t have to repeat themselves because all the information is at the agents’ fingertips. This reduces call handling time since the agent is able to resolve issues and move to the next call more quickly. Personalized engagement with the agent also makes the caller feel that they matter to the business.
Call routing features like IVR improve customer experience by providing self-service options like paying bills or setting up account notifications. Callers feel empowered if they can resolve their issues independently instead of waiting for a live agent for assistance.
Bolstering Customer Touchpoints
One of the standout benefits of CTI is how it makes the entire process of customer contact digital. It enables call centers to reach out to customers via voice calling, texting, emailing, or social media. This promotes a more omnichannel experience for customer outreach and saves money in the long run.
Top Providers Offering CTI
Now that you fully understand what computer technology integration is, you may want to know the leading providers of CTI systems in the market. Ideally, the right solution for your business should provide a handful of useful CTI features that are easy to learn and adapt in various call center situations. Check out some of the popular CTI providers by clicking on the tabs below:
RingCentral is primarily known as a leading provider of business phone systems with over 300 third-party integrations. It offers an omnichannel cloud-based communications solution that lets you connect with customers in up to 30 digital channels. All plans include business phone capabilities, including unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada and business SMS.
RingCentral Contact Center comes with powerful CTI features, such as advanced IVR, skills-based routing, real-time analytics, and outbound dialers. Although its contact center packages aren’t published on its website, you may contact its sales team to request a quote and demo. Learn more about its key features in our RingCentral Contact Center review.
Nextiva Contact Center is another CTI solution with integrated business phone capabilities. Its key feature, called Call Pop, displays the caller’s sentiment and experience score from past interactions, as well as survey response and account value. To ensure more streamlined communication, Nextiva provides a single interface for team and customer interactions, including access to team collaboration and customer engagement tools.
Nextiva provides workforce optimization tools, such as screen recording, coaching capabilities, and interaction analytics. Like RingCentral, Nextiva doesn’t publish the price of its contact center plans, but you can chat with its sales team for more information. You can also head to our Nextiva review to learn more about this provider.
8×8 is a CTI call center solution that combines voice, video conferencing, team messaging, contact center, and analytics in one powerful platform. Its web-based user interface allows remote agents to work either in the office or from home. Centralized management and reporting enable supervisors to manage teams and find ways to improve agent productivity and customer experience.
8×8 Speech Analytics offers a complete view of customer interaction and the ability to listen to the most relevant ones via call recording and speech-to-text transcription. Core CTI features include call recording, screen pop, and skills-based routing. 8×8 allows a mix and match of plans to create a customized solution that best meets specific roles and unique requirements.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I choose the right CTI solution for my business?
The answer depends on the current business applications you’re using. If you want to link a CTI solution to your existing CRM system, make sure your chosen provider includes your CRM in its list of integrations. Many CTI solutions vary in price, features, and scalability, so evaluate multiple providers to explore your options. The best CTI software should be flexible enough to meet your business needs.
Do contact center solutions require an extra fee for a CTI?
No. A CTI solution should be a part of the contact center package you purchased. However, other providers would require you to subscribe to higher-level plans for advanced CTI features like automated dialing, screen pop, and analytics.
What type of call centers need a CTI solution?
Almost any type of call center operation will benefit from a CTI solution. However, it is generally popular in industries that involve plenty of customer phone interactions, such as healthcare, financial, ecommerce, and hospitality management.
A computer telephony integration system streamlines and expands customer contact. CTI has benefits for call center phone systems as well as customer service and sales, which is why it’s being adopted into the communications tools of many small businesses. To learn more about specific providers offering CTI integration, check out our guide on the best call center phone systems.