What is Computer Telephony Integration? Why is it Important for Call Centers?

What is Computer Telephony Integration? Why is it Important for Call Centers?

How do call center agents manage so many calls in a day? You can imagine them sitting by the telephone and dialing random numbers. Pretty hectic, isn’t it? To your surprise, they don’t do that now. Thanks to the latest technology and computer system for existence. Now all they need is to integrate the telephone with the computer to sit back and contact different prospects worldwide with a mouse click. Of course, they have to use a headset to hear and speak. It is what we call Computer Telephony Integration. More simply, the ‘CTI.’ Of course, computer telephony integration is used to accomplish various tasks, including automated call distribution (ACD), voice mail, busy signal override, and speech recognition. It is also helpful for call monitoring. Keep reading, as this will get more interesting as you move further.

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) and its Importance 

Computer telephony integration is a concept of combining computer and telephone for call center needs. It is also known as call center technology or CTI integrations. Let’s understand the history and advantages of computer telephony integration.

A short history of CTI 

The CTI had existed since the 1980s when call centers started to use this as an alternative communication between customers and employees. Today, computer telephony integration has become more sophisticated thanks to technological advancement. It means businesses can use it several ways to get what they need. The original intent of computer telephony integration was to allow computer-based telephone systems to communicate. It quickly evolved into a technology that can be used in various applications. Today, CTI integrates data from your phone system and your computers to work together seamlessly. Is it something related to call forwarding? Just keep on reading, as you’ll have all your answers. 

CTI has Advanced with the Advent of Technology

CTI has become more sophisticated as technology has advanced. In the early days, computer telephony integration required complex programming and integration to work correctly. Today, simpler systems have been created that have made CTI easier to use across various industries, including healthcare and manufacturing. Additionally, these systems are now available on mobile devices for workers who need to access them during their commute or while working remotely.

The reliability of these systems is also much higher than before. It is now standard practice for businesses to use “live transfer” technology so that calls aren’t dropped if a worker leaves their desk.

Advantages of CTI

To understand the importance of computer telephony integration (CTI), we have to get into some background information. First, computer telephony integration is an umbrella term that covers different types of voice and data systems. It refers to any system that allows voice and data traffic on a single line or network. Would that call recording be its feature as well? You’ll find that out as you reach the end. There are several benefits of using computer telephony integration. We have listed a few for you below:

Automates the Call Center Operations 

Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) helps automate dialing, call routing, and more. It also provides a platform for your representatives to look professional when dealing with clients. Computer telephony integration integrates your existing systems to provide advanced features such as screen pop-ups and more to reduce the time spent on such operations. Moreover, it also connects with CRM software, enabling it to collect details during customer interactions, ultimately reducing the time an agent spends entering customer data.

Commonly Used in Different Industries

CTI is used in various industries: healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, insurance, etc. In recent years, its use has expanded beyond traditional phone systems. Computer telephony integration technology is now used in video conferences to enable unified communication features such as screen pop-ups in customer service calls.

Alternative to larger systems 

Call center software with an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is the most common but least flexible type of CTI. It is also known as “peripheral” call center technology since it only involves peripheral hardware such as headsets and telephone handsets. You can also term this business software, and it’s relatively simple to install and use in small to medium sized businesses that need an automated answering system. Still, it needs more resources for a more extensive system like Microsoft Skype for Business or Office 365 Cloud PBX Phone System.

Types of Computer Telephony Integration

There are four main types of computer telephony integration. Let’s get to know each one of them below:

PBX-based CTI 

It is used to connect a phone system with other applications. It is the most common form of computer telephony integration. It can be used to create custom call menus or transfer calls from one agent to another when an agent becomes unavailable. Call center software with an IVR is an example of PBX-based CTI. IVR is a computer-based interactive voice response system that can be used to automate phone systems. IVR can be used for call routing, customer service, and other purposes.

In the call center industry, it’s common for businesses to use multiple forms of computer telephony integration in their customer service operations. An example is an IVR system connected with the PBX (private branch exchange). It directs incoming calls and provides information about products or services offered by the company.

Client-server CTI

It allows you to integrate your phone system with desktop or web applications. This integration allows you to access real-time information such as call logs, voicemail messages, and contact lists. In short, this makes the agents respond quickly and efficiently. It lets them send faxes, emails, and text messages right from their desktops without manually entering data into those systems (saving time).

Client-server computer telephony integration uses the Internet to connect the phone system, PC, and telephone device. In this model, the server and the client are software programs running on a PC. The server program resides on an internet-connected PBX or VoIP system and interacts with phone devices as necessary to make calls and send faxes. Client-server computer telephony integration includes hardware and software components—typically a server running Lync Server 2010 or later, one or more client phones running Windows 7 or later, and various peripheral hardware devices such as headsets (sometimes including USB headsets explicitly designed for use with Lync). For example, A user can place calls directly from their headset by pressing the “call” button on their remote-control unit; however, they also have access to other features through buttons on their remote-control unit, such as hold/resume buttons which allow them to put other calls on hold. At the same time, he talks on another line.”

Browser-based CTI

It is a newer form of technology that lets users access databases over the Internet using their web browser instead of having an actual application installed on their computer. It means they won’t have any trouble accessing company resources no matter where they’re located. All they need is an internet connection.

IP-based CTI

This computer telephony integration uses VoIP or a similar system to integrate your system with your computer. VoIP users make telephone calls via the Internet rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN). In other words, VoIP enables voice communications over an IP-based data network instead of using traditional circuit-switched phone lines. The TAPI standard unifies various platforms for developing computer telephony integration systems. TAPI is an interface standard that allows multiple applications to communicate with the telephone system. It is based on the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model and consists of three layers:

  • The Network Access layer manages connections between telephony service providers and end users. It does so by providing mechanisms for: 
  • The Transport layer sends and receives packets between applications running on computers or terminal devices.
  • The Application layer provides access to telephony services. Applications use this layer to send and receive information from the telephone system.
  1. Authentication
  2. Authorization
  3. Addressing resolution
  4. Message transferring
  5. Connectivity establishment/management (including call setup)
  6. Call routing logic (phone controls) 
  7. Flow control management (including resource reservation),
  8. Call signaling protocol implementation support when needed by a particular protocol suite.

Takeaway

As a business owner, it is vital to understand the benefits of CTI and how it can help your company. Computer telephony integration can automate some processes, such as dialing, call routing, and recording of calls. Also, call recording or call monitoring for better customer relationship management or customer satisfaction. It provides a platform for your representatives to look professional when dealing with your clients. CTI is a great way to increase productivity and reduce costs. It has many benefits and can help you run your business better. Sometimes referred to as contact center software. 

However, this system may only work well for you if you have the right software. So before investing in CTI or any other system or application, ensure that your company needs it and that someone can teach their employees how to use it properly. CTI is also beneficial in case you are looking at switching over to digital telephony from analog telephony because it allows you to integrate both systems while retaining all existing features that were available on the analog system. 

CTI is a great way to increase productivity and reduce costs. It has many benefits and can help you run your business better. However, this system may only work well for you if you have the right software. So before investing in CTI or any other system or application, ensure that your company needs it and that someone can teach their employees how to use it properly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a CTI? For how long has the CTI been in existence? What is call center routing? How to know which CTI is right for your business? What are the four types of Computer Telephony Integrations?