This article was originally published November 4, 2016 and has since been updated
Happy customers are loyal, and they’re glad to tell others when they’ve had a good customer experience with one of their favorite brands. With lots of competition in the marketplace, small businesses have to pull out all the stops to cater to their customers. The goal of improving customer experience is to meet your customers’ expectations, anticipate their future needs, and meet those. That’s a tall order without the benefit of a computer telephony integration (CTI) system.
Read on to learn more about CTI, its benefits, and how you can leverage it in specific ways to improve the customer experience.
What Is Computer Telephony Integration?
Computer telephony integration, commonly known as CTI, is a type of technology that marries telephones and computers together seamlessly. Users can make outbound calls with a computer telephony integration system, receive incoming calls, and complete other call-related tasks directly from a laptop, desktop, or mobile device.
CTI provides a single interface for all your business communications. It assists communication devices like phones, mobile, computers, and fax to communicate with each other harmoniously.
To better understand CTI technology, it helps to get acquainted with VoIP (voice over internet protocol) technology — the technology that powers CTI systems. VoIP is the technology that allows voice and other types of media and communications to travel over the internet. Together, VoIP and CTI open up a wealth of new capabilities and functionalities within your call center to improve the customer experience.
With the right technologies in place, you’re ready to implement call center software. First, you’ll need a cloud-based phone system and the right business tools to support your workflows. Call centers run best when they’re equipped with software capable of managing a large volume of calls.
Next, software integrations work in tandem with your cloud phone system. Users simply click-to-dial phone numbers from a desktop or mobile device. Sales and support software brings customer information up on the computer screen to provide your sales and support agents with a single data source. Software integrations share data with your phone system and other business tools, eliminating the problem of having to log out of one program before logging into another. It’s a real time-saver!
Lastly, a cloud phone system offers a greater number of voice calling features than a traditional PBX phone system. The wide variety of features helps improve the customer experience.
The Benefits of a Computer Telephony Integration for a Call Center
Success in the call center requires a data-driven approach. CTI provides you with several ways to get data and use it to enhance the customer experience.
Let’s look at the many benefits of a computer telephony integration for your call center:
Interactive voice response
An IVR allows customers to select choices from a voice menu, and automatic call routing sends the call to a sales or support agent that can help them without having to be transferred first.
With automatic callback, customers can opt to get a call back rather than wait in line, which frees them up to do other tasks.
Sales and support agents can call numbers on their desktop or mobile phone in just one click, saving the time of dialing numbers one-by-one.
Sales and support software integrations
It’s easy to install software integrations that work seamlessly with cloud calling software. Each integration offers specific functions which you can use to create customized workflows.
Remote working capability
CTI makes it possible to set up a virtual call center or use remote teams or distributed teams.
With voice calling software, adding and removing users is simple. It’s easy to scale your call center to manage the call volume.
CTI is far less expensive to set up, install, and maintain than a traditional PBX system. More importantly, these software programs are subscription-based, making it easier to control costs.
Call center monitoring
The dashboard shows who is on the phone, how many calls are holding, and everything else that goes on in the call center.
CTI enables voice calling software that logs calls, records them, and preserves the call history. The right call center software will also capture customer details, support tickets, chat transcripts, emails, the status of orders and shipping, etc.
A CRM or help desk software is a must-have business tool. There are many other tools that perform specific functions for omnichannel communications, call transcription, sales automation, etc.
Internal communication and collaboration
Teams can work more cohesively and get assistance internally as needed.
Call routing features
Route calls based on a sales or support agent’s skills or reroute to available agents.
Cloud phone system features like call recording, call monitoring, and call whispering are tools to help sales and support reps hone their skills and help struggling employees.
Detailed customer records
Produce a detailed customer record for a personalized experience.
Call center analytics
Track individual and team performances over time and for specific periods – track numbers for missed calls, dropped calls, waiting time, and other metrics to discover ways to boost efficiency.
Track the customer journey
Better understand the progression of the customers’ lifecycle.
Gauge customer satisfaction
Get immediate feedback on customer interactions for quick decision-making.
Improve the customer experience
All tools work together with your cloud-based phone software to improve productivity in the call center and enhance collaboration to significantly improve the customer experience.
With so many things to consider, you might be wondering what’s the best way to pair up or combine software programs? It all begins with identifying your call center’s needs and considering which programs will enhance your workflows and assist you in reaching your business goals.
Identifying Computer Telephony Integration Needs
Different types of call center software serve various purposes. To get the right tools, first you must determine the specific needs of your sales teams, support teams, IT department, and operations department.
Next, take stock of your CRM’s capabilities and your cloud-based phone system’s features. What gaps remain in the functions needed by your sales teams? Your support teams? How can CTI support your IT and operations departments?
As you make decisions, an app marketplace offers many options for software solutions. Read the listings and make some initial choices. Take advantage of free trial offers to see how the applications work for your teams. As you gain experience with various programs, you’ll be able to fine-tune the perfect combinations of tools for your workflows.
Remember, you’re not locked in with software integrations. The subscription-based model allows you to cancel applications that aren’t working as you expected them to (as long as you abide by the terms and conditions). Additionally, new applications are being developed, so there may be better opportunities to take advantage of these integrations in the future.
Let’s look at the needs of various teams and how CTI (including cloud-based voice calling features and software integrations) can help solve problems, increase efficiency, and guarantee increased productivity.
- Streamlining sales activities – Sales automation software supports sales workflows and gamifies incentive and reward programs.
- Increasing the number of sales calls – Click-to-dial and power dialer features speed up outbound calling activities.
- Getting calls to sales and support agents that can help customers immediately – Time based routing, skills-based routing, and IVR help serve customers quickly.
- Increasing collaboration within teams – Shared contact lists, call commenting and assignment, warm transfer support teamwork.
- Achieving first-call resolution – Insight cards and desktop notifications indicated by screen pop bubbles give support agents data to solve problems the first time around.
- Improving sales training – Call monitoring, call whispering, call recording, AI, and transcription are aids to help train sales agents.
- Increasing productivity – Use automation to send calls from new leads directly to salespeople.
- Creating a global company with a local presence – Provide toll-free and international numbers.
- Reducing caller wait times – IVR, queue-based routing, queue callback, and extensions shorten wait times.
- Improving internal collaboration – Warm transfer, shared contacts, shared call inbox, and after call work are features that keep the lines of communication open.
- Personalizing the customer experience – insight cards, SMS, and other omnichannel software allow team members to communicate on the customer’s preferred channel.
- Improving customer satisfaction – Automated surveys shed light on the customer’s perspective of your brand.
- Evaluating team performance – Quality and assurance software and call center dashboard analytics give you an objective view of individual and team performances.
- Analyzing data and gaining insights – Data and reporting software allow you to build dashboards to gain greater insight into call center activity.
Cloud calling software and software integrations collectively meet the needs of your operations and IT departments. Next, is a list of requirements for each department that you can meet with CTI technology.
- Optimizing resources
- Generating quality leads
- Improving productivity
- Reporting progress
- Increasing revenue
- Increasing conversion rate
- Monitoring and decreasing attrition
- Team building and improving morale
- Establishing performance metrics (…)
- Delivering a quality customer experience
- Saving time in installation – simple download and no need to configure it
- Reduced time needed for troubleshooting
- Saving time in updating systems – SaaS provider leverages cloud computing for updates
- Reducing time to benefit
- Leveraging a trial period
- Lowering maintenance costs
- Analyzing customer needs
- Lessening downtime
- Freeing up time to work on identifying the right tech stack to improve productivity and efficiency
Moving along, let’s look at 12 reasons CTI improves the customer experience.
12 Reasons CTI’s Improve the Customer Experience
- The software automatically tracks calls and logs them for a permanent record of activity.
- Call recordings give accurate documentation if there’s ever a question about a conversation.
- Sales and support agents can make outbound calls faster with one-click dialing.
- Your support agents can resolve problems on the first call.
- Real-time updates let sales and support agents handle calls with confidence.
- Drastically reduced hold times mean customers get served at the earliest opportunity.
- Leverage multiple communication channels to meet customers on their preferred channel.
- Gain the ability to gather customer data with every customer interaction and make it easily accessible using one source.
- You get immediate feedback from customers by evaluating the results and comments from automated surveys.
- Dashboard analytics help you scale your contact center and identify problems early.
- The right tools capture customer data automatically, and you can use them to get better acquainted with your customers, understand the customer journey, and continue earning their trust.
- Promote self-service options such as an IVR and/or knowledge base so customers can get help with having to wait to speak to someone.
11 Best Practices for Choosing Computer Telephony Integration
- Take a meaningful approach when choosing cloud-based software and integrations based on your current and future needs.
- Find out what kind of support you can expect from vendors and make sure employees know who to call if there’s ever a problem.
- Learn about the porting process for switching phone numbers to your new service to avoid downtimes.
- CTI should be intuitive and user-friendly.
- Ask about a free trial program to get a feel for how it works and ensure it’s what you need.
- Find out if the CTI vendor offers an app marketplace with a robust number of listings and review it before purchasing.
- Be sure that your preferred provider works seamlessly with your CRM or help desk software application.
- Ask about their reliability percentage. It’s common to have uptimes of up to 99.99%. If there have been problems with reliability, find out how the vendor has solved them.
- Be sure it can utilize multi-channel capabilities.
- Inquire about their dashboard analytics’ features, whether it meets your needs for specific metrics and whether you can customize it to meet your needs.
- Read reviews and testimonials from other customers to gauge their experience with it.
With Aircall, the possibilities for how you can leverage data and the right workflows to enhance your sales and support operations are abundant. It’s the best technology to help you win the trust of your customers and distinguish your small business from the competition. Most of all, it’s the key to a great customer experience.