What Is Computer Telephony Integration?
Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) – Features and Benefits
There are many types of call center software on the market today, but perhaps none are as valuable to a contact center as computer telephony integration (CTI) systems. CTI solutions enable computer-based control of both inbound and outbound phone calls, and dynamically link the various communication channels within a contact center – such as phone, email, Web, fax, and IM/chat – with agent desktops and other mission-critical computer applications.
Computer telephony integration, also commonoly referred to as computer telephone integration or just computer telephony, was first introduced many, many years ago in the form of “screen pop”-type applications. Data was collected from callers – usually through the use of interative voice response (IVR) systems or other types of call center software – then instantly “popped” onto the agent’s desktop as the call was transferred. So, the agent had all the needed information presented on his/her computer screen before picking up the phone to speak with the client.
Today’s computer telephony solutions have come a long way. CTI has evolved, and is now far broader and more feature-rich. Most computer telephony integration packages provide a wide range of capabilities that automate many functions, including caller authentication, voice recognition, dynamic routing and processing of interactions across multiple channels, message collection and distribution, and more.
Additionally, CTI-type capabilities are often incorporated into many other types of call center software solutions to enhance their value, including IVR, call monitoring and recording, and automatic call distributors, call routers, and other phone switches.
Features of CTI Applications
Some of the key features of today’s most popular CTI applications include:
- Advanced “screen pop” that provides the agent not only with the information that the caller has already given, but with other data such as the number the caller is dialing from (through automatic number identification), and the number the caller has dialed (through dialed number identification service).
- The ability to create an agent “portal” that offers a single point of access to a variety of applications that the agent may need to use to most effectively service callers.
- More powerful dialing functionality, including computer-controlled dialing and predictive dialing.
- Computer-based manipulation of key phone functions such as answer, hang up, hold, conference, and transfer.
- The ability to pass a call, and all related screen information, to another agent.
- Support for multiple communication channels, including phone, email, and Web interactions.
- Comprehensive agent activity reporting, including all actions performed via phone and/or computer.
Benefits of CTI Technology
The benefits of CTI technologies are clear. As with many other call center software packages, computer telephony integration dramatically increases customer convenience and satisfaction, because callers don’t need to repeat their information (i.e. account number or order number) multiple times. This, in turn, accelerates average call handling times, contributes to improved first call resolution, minimizes the number of “dropped” calls, and reduces related toll expenses.
That’s why contact centers of all sizes will continue to realize significant advantages through the implementation and use of computer telephony integration and related call center software.