What is computer telephony integration and how does it work

Learn all about computer telephony integration and how to leverage it to empower agents with a single interface for all business communications.

Issac Thomas
October 18, 2023
9 min read

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What is computer telephony integration?

Computer telephony integration (CTI) is a call center technology businesses use to integrate their call center’s phone system with other software applications. CTI enables agents to perform all phone-related functions — including calling, disconnecting and transferring calls — directly from a computer without requiring a physical phone. 

Apart from call management, computer telephony integration provides additional capabilities, such as:

  • Call routing matches callers to agents with the pertinent skill set and experience

  • Interactive voice response (IVR) presents callers with a pre-set menu of options — designed to collect the callers’ information and route them to the right department quickly and automatically

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) integrations enable agents to store callers’ purchase and interaction details in one place

  • Detailed call analytics to measure and analyze individual or team performance and the overall operational efficiency of a call center

How does CTI work?

CTI is primarily a cloud-based technology that uses voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) to provide telephonic capabilities to your agents’ computer systems. The initial set-up process includes installing the CTI software through your call center’s phone system, purchasing and configuring virtual phone numbers for your customer service team, and then mapping teams, groups or agents to their designated numbers. 

Once you have fully configured CTI in your environment, the calling process works as follows:

  • A user places a call to the customer service department. An interactive voice response (IVR) system greets the user with a welcome message, and the system collects basic details regarding their issue by analyzing the user’s keypad inputs.

How IVR works
  • Based on the caller’s input, the system connects them to the appropriate agent’s computer. The agent can also choose to schedule a callback or send voicemails if they are not able to pick up the call immediately.

  • After call routing, the CTI integration checks the caller information in the CRM database (if any) to fetch the user’s details and previous customer interactions. This information is displayed to the agent on a screen pop as the call is patched to them.

  • In the case of outbound calls, CTI offers click-to-dial, where agents don’t have to dial numbers manually. You can directly search for customer contacts, and place calls with the click of a button.

  • CTI allows for call recording and monitoring in real time for quality assurance, compliance and training purposes. Supervisors can also listen in on calls to provide real-time support and coaching to agents.

  • After predefined intervals, call analytics and reports are generated, offering insights into call volumes, agent performance and customer behavior.

Call analytics and reports via Sprinklr

Benefits of computer telephony integration in a call center

Here’s how a CTI solution can add value to your call center’s operating rhythm:

1. Flexibility and scalability  

With CTI, you can easily scale the size of your operations — allowing your teams to reach more users with the same workforce.  
During work-from-home stints or with businesses that have adopted a hybrid work culture, CTI can help set up your agents’ processes with ease, allowing them to work from anywhere without affecting their productivity.  

2. Reduced operational costs  

CTI systems are easier to install and maintain than traditional PBX (private branch exchange) telephony systems — making them a cost-effective alternative to PBX.  
Also, CTI technology helps lower your average hold time and increases your agents’ handling efficiency, significantly reducing your cost-per-call and overall call center costs. 

3. Unified, in-depth customer journey tracking  

When all your customers’ data is stored in one place, tracking customer journeys and delivering value from your products and services becomes easier.  
With this type of in-depth tracking, you can understand recurring issues with customers or the product itself and implement that feedback to improve your customer experience. 

4. Better agent productivity  

A lot of manual effort is reduced for your agents in call-related processes, thanks to the automation that CTI solutions make available right out of the box.  
With the amount of customer information readily available, your agents can also deliver higher first contact resolution rates that ultimately increase their customer satisfaction (CSAT) ratings and productivity. 

5. Reporting and analytics  

With built-in analytics in CTI technology, supervisors can easily gain actionable insights about their team and individual contributors.

Agent reporting and analytics with Sprinklr

Armed with these analytics, supervisors can focus on improving their team’s efficiency and managing their performance.

CTI features and capabilities

Implementing CTI can help introduce multiple valuable features into your customer service and contact center operations. Here are a few of the capabilities that CTI telephony brings: 

1. Screen pop  

A screen pop is the most critical feature of a CTI integration. It is a pop-up window on the agent’s computer screen that displays all relevant information about the caller on the line.  
Armed with insights about a caller’s previous interactions and purchases, the agent is better positioned to provide a personalized, omnichannel customer experience to the caller. 

2. Call routing and IVR

Call routing in Sprinklr

CTI, working in tandem with automatic call distribution (ACD)  and call forwarding, can help efficiently route incoming calls to agents based on their availability, skill set or other pre-configured criteria.  
When call routing is combined with IVR, it can completely revolutionize your inbound call operations by enabling customer self-service and removing all unnecessary manual intervention. 

3. Auto-dialing 

For outbound call operations, CTI offers auto dialer that can reduce manual dialing efforts for your agents. Advanced dialing capabilities like preview dialers, where a call is first sent to agents to increase or generate more productive calls.

How a preview dialer works

It helps improve productivity by reducing idle time for your agents as they know the overall context and previous interactions, therefore improving the overall efficiency of your customer care teams. 

4. Call tracking and monitoring  

Comprehensive call analytics — with call logging and recording — can provide critical insights into your call center performance. In addition, call monitoring can help supervisors listen to agents in real-time and barge in resolving complicated user issues as they arise. 

5. Callback queues and click-to-call capability  

Some advanced CTI technology also provides other capabilities, such as callback queues. Here, the system can record a user’s or agent’s callback request and add them to a queue instead of making the user wait on the call for long periods.

How IVR works while scheduling calls

Learn more: What is callback and its use cases in call centers?

Click-to-call functionality, where the agent can simply place calls to users with a single click, was initially an uncommon application. However, with its demand and usage rising lately, almost every CTI solution provider has started including it in their package. 

6. CRM integration 

CRM integration helps CTI software automatically retrieve and display relevant customer information from the CRM system based on the incoming caller's phone number. This information may include the customer's name, contact history, recent purchases or support tickets. 

As soon as an agent answers a call, the CRM system can trigger a screen pop, displaying the customer's profile and interaction history on the agent's computer screen. During the call, agents can log call details, take notes and update customer records directly within the CRM system. This ensures that all interactions are well-documented, allowing for better follow-up and analysis later.

CRM integration for better management of calls

These days, most CTI technology comes with native integrations with other applications that are critical to call center operations, such as sales software, API and CRM systems, and help desk solutions.

How to choose the right computer telephony integration provider 

If you are planning to invest in a computer telephony integration provider, consider these factors before making a buying decision. 

️🔒Security and reliability:  

Significance - HIGH 

Since computer telephony integration involves interactions between computers and phone systems, data security is a prime concern.

Do they provide highly secure systems with implemented backup plans, encryption measures and data compliance regulations like PCI, GDPR and HIPAA? 

📞 Customer support and vendor reputation: 

Significance - HIGH 

Research the vendor's financial stability and reputation within the industry. 

Do they provide support to customers during their initial setup and system familiarization process?  

Do they offer priority support for those in need of quicker assistance? 

💰 Flexible pricing:  

Significance - HIGH 

Can customers customize their packages by selecting additional features, or is there an option for a comprehensive bundled package that covers all necessary services? 

Are there any incurring additional charges for extra components, or is the pricing straightforward and all-inclusive, ensuring that what you see is what you get? 

🎡 Great features:  

Significance - HIGH 

Can customers configure call routing, implement automated phone menus and utilize various communication channels? Are there advanced features such as speech analytics, workforce management and quality checks available? 

🔁 Seamless CRM integration and flexibility 

Significance - MODERATE 

Can it seamlessly integrate with your CRM system, enabling all your data to be centralized in one location? 

Evaluate the software's flexibility in customizing call flows, scripting and automation to align with your specific business needs. 

🔎Customer feedback and references  

Significance - MODERATE 

Seek feedback from current users of the CTI software to understand their experiences and satisfaction levels. 

Request references or case studies from the vendor to gauge their track record with similar call centers. 

🎧Ease of use and training  

Significance - MODERATE 

Choose software that is intuitive for agents and requires minimal training. 

Assess the availability of training resources and customer support to assist with onboarding and troubleshooting.

Get CTI and more in Cloud contact center

The kind of benefits you get from CTI, you could get the same and even better by migrating from call center to contact center. 

According to a report from Straits Research, the global market for cloud-based contact centers is set to grow a lot, around 21.3% each year from 2022 to 2030. By 2030, it could be worth $82.43 billion. This growth is happening because more and more businesses all over the world are embracing cloud technology.

Switching to a cloud contact center can save businesses money by cutting down on costs and making things work better. It also makes customers happier.  

Conversational IVR is an integral part of contact center technology and leveraging conversational IVR, you can leverage the following benefits. 

🎯 Direct to the right agent: Prioritize and route calls accurately based on context, ensuring customers talk to the best-suited agents. 

🔄 Start where you left off: Customers can pick up their journeys right where they left, saving their time and frustration. 

📞 Auto-callbacks: Automatically schedule callbacks to reconnect with customers who drop off during the IVR process. 

💨 Faster resolution: Swiftly switch customers to digital channels for quicker problem-solving, reducing wait times. 

🔄 No missed interactions: Reconnect abandoned calls with the right agents automatically. 

📊 Analyze and improve: Get detailed insights on IVR options, demographics, and locations to optimize your system. 

🌐 Omnichannel experience: Redirect customers to their preferred channels and empower self-service for speedy resolutions. 

📈 Identify potential leads: Equip your agents to find and nurture potential leads, boosting your customer base.

Ready to embrace a future-ready cloud contact center solution?

Sprinklr Service — built on the world’s first unified customer experience management (Unified-CXM) platform — helps unify your CTI-based care operations into a powerful console that enables your agents to provide a positive, impactful customer service experience. Sprinklr’s advanced AI engine, automated workflows, and CCaaS solution can help your agents:

  • Accept calls from across the globe and resolve customer issues using advanced voice bots and conversational IVR.

  • Improve first contact resolution rates using a 360° customer view, which helps provide a meaningful customer service experience.

  • Analyze previous call center performance to predict future requirements and better manage your human resources using Workforce Management software.

To get all this and more, try Sprinklr Service for free. Register for a free trial today.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are two primary types of Computer Telephony Integration (CTI): first-party CTI, where the telephony and CRM systems are from the same vendor and third-party CTI, which integrates telephony with various CRM systems regardless of the vendor.

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