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7 Steps to Successful Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)

By | Communications, Customer Experience, Management, Technology

This 7-step guide provides an overview of what you should consider when integrating telephony (CTI) into your CRM if you don’t want it to turn into a nightmare.


1. Understand what CTI means and how it relates to your requirements

There are lots of acronyms out there in tech land, and CTI is another to decipher. Read our blog here to learn more about CTI, but in essence it is the software that allows computers to interact with a phone system. However, the first step you should take is pinpoint exactly what it is that you want to do. At this stage your focus needs to be broadly on what outcomes you want, and then move to what technology might exist to help you.

2. Form a team to own the project and agree requirements BEFORE approaching vendors

People across your organisation are going to be challenged in some way to change the way they work. Involving those people in designing (and committing to) the changes helps fight the ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mentality. Discuss business-level advantages that you can measure further into the project such as productivity or cost savings.

3. Agree your resources – especially a budget and realistic timeline

Lots of businesses try to set a budget and resources too soon and it’s an error to be avoided. The knock-on effects can manifest themselves in over-spends, loss of time and overall performance disruption. Being realistic, however, shouldn’t push the boundaries of flexibility. You are undertaking this project for a reason, normally because there is a problem that needs solving. Don’t allow yourselves (or the project team) to slip from the commitment to deliver a result – it gives the vendor excuses to under-deliver but equally just extends how long the existing problem is in place.

4. Research the market and speak to the businesses you think might be a good fit

Technology is evolving so rapidly that forcing yourself out of the comfort zone is the only way to find new things. Be prepared to reject possible solutions if they aren’t ticking the boxes your requirements identified; anything above and beyond your requirements shouldn’t come at the expense of what you need. CTI requires a partner with robust integrations and proven success. So, it is just as important to look at the culture and values of potential partners and see what their customers say about them.

5. Ask for a trial to test the proposed solution and check your requirements are understood

Insist on an opportunity to try out the CTI integration. A vendor should be happy to support this because a) customer experience is a huge part of adopting new technology successfully and they will want to showcase how good their integration is and b) they can learn as much from a trial as you can. A good trial makes a full-scale roll out easier. Let a vendor advise and guide you to a certain extent but get them to commit to achieving the outcomes you want on the timeline that suits you. One caution: don’t choose a solution on price alone.

6. Training, training and more training

In order for your project to succeed, you must ensure everyone in your company understands the new tech they are given. They are most likely comfortable with the status quo and don’t want change. Involve them throughout and support them through any training they require. You embarked on this project to create a change for good, so it’s vital to do everything you can to enable them to use it successfully.

7. Take away the old way of doing things

You’ve scoped out your integration requirements correctly. You identified the right solution and worked with the right partner to introduce the integration in the way your business needs. You’ve invested in the right level of training and have a team ready, willing and able to get the integration rolled out successfully. You did all of this for a reason: the old way wasn’t good enough anymore! So, get rid of it, or at the very least minimize it so that it immediately starts to become irrelevant to how your business and your teams now operate.

Secret step number 8 is to future-proof your solution. Work with your chosen vendor to explore how the integration will evolve and what new features and products they have coming. Make sure that as your company evolves, your chosen solution can keep up. Any point you don’t feel you are getting the maximum benefit, speak up and work with them to get things back on track.

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What is Computer Telephony Integration (CTI)?

By | Customer Experience, Productivity, Technology

CTI stands for Computer Telephony Integration. In essence, it is any technology that allows computers to interact with a phone system, moving control of the telephony platform to a computerised environment. Often this is achieved by taking advantage of cloud technology as opposed to using a more traditional hardware approach such as an on-premise PBX.

You may have already used CTI – directly or indirectly, for example:

  • The on-screen notification you see when a call is coming in? – CTI
  • When you call the bank and you reach the right person that you need to speak to. – CTI
  • When the agent that you’re speaking to knows loads of information about you (once you pass the screening test!) – CTI

There are a whole host of benefits for successful CTI adoption for businesses and users alike. One of the biggest advantages is that it brings together CRM and communications data.

With a CTI solution, your business can:

  • Provide better customer experience with functionality such as inbound screen pops, allowing you to forward/direct the call appropriately.
  • Have personalised, smarter conversations using CRM driven screen pops that offer detailed information about a caller, including historic interactions.
  • Improve employee performance through measurable KPIs relating to call records and stats accessed through CRM dashboards.

Although the T in ‘CTI’ stands for telephony, the very best CTI providers always include an integration with a CRM system. For a CTI implementation to be successful, you need to make sure that it is connected to the system where your data is stored and that your whole communications project encompasses as many of your business-critical communications channels as possible.

By placing your data and communication channels tightly together, you provide your teams with a unified view of a customer. Your agents can see all interactions with a specific caller, no matter the medium where those interactions took place. For example, if a customer is calling in to talk about an email they received, your agent can see the email in the CRM and offer a personalised experience. The same applies with all forms of communication such as text, instant messaging and social media messages.

Companies that adopt CTI successfully can expect cost savings, productivity gains and customer satisfaction improvements. However, equally important are the CTI adoption benefits that are less obvious: collaboration across parties, assistance in performance management and having more time and resources to focus on growing your business.

A good CTI solution will help you identify opportunities, specifically for your business. Productivity gains as a standalone promise isn’t good enough, you must get specific. CTI without a CRM integration is only half the story and you only gain half of the advantages.

Get your CTI solution right by talking to potential vendors about their CRM integration capability. Seek testimonials from businesses that have successfully adopted CTI and have an outcome similar to your goals. Ultimately, you need to make sure that your chosen CTI solution can work towards your goals.

Stories From the CloudCall Office: 3 Recruitment Nightmares!

By | Candidate Experience, Customer Experience, Recruitment

“The modern recruitment industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and providing candidates with a positive experience is key to securing their interest and standing out from the crowd.”

But let’s be honest. Sometimes, the experience isn’t going to be great.

As you all know, the recruitment process can be fraught with calamities, pitfalls and disaster. Everything that could go wrong probably has gone wrong at some point in your careers.

Here at CloudCall, we’ve all been through the process in one way or another. While we’ve helped countless recruiters provide a better candidate experience, there are some situations that we just can’t help you with. So, we thought we’d go around the office and give you some of our worst recruitment nightmares.
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3 Ways to Use CTI to Increase Recruiter Productivity

By | Candidate Experience, Customer Experience, Recruitment

Efficiency is key when recruiting new candidates, and computer telephony integration (CTI) systems are allowing users to manage their calls in a variety of new ways. With a plethora of features designed around productivity, recruiters can now seamlessly phone potential candidates, record their conversations and collate notes within a few minutes, all from their chosen CRM system.

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Maintaining High Levels of Customer Service During Holiday Season

By | Customer Experience

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be a challenging time for businesses. For retail businesses, apart from increased sales in-store and online, customers are also more likely to contact customer service over queries such as delivery or collection of orders, product availability, and making returns or exchanges. For Technical Support teams, however, it may actually mean a drop in the number of inbound calls but they also have to manage staff taking holiday and working on a reduced schedule. Sustaining high levels of customer service during this time can actually give businesses the chance to shine and build up customer loyalty that will last them throughout the coming year.

Maintain customer service levels during holiday season

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Phone – The Most Important Customer Service Channel?

By | Communications, Customer Experience

With over 3 billion internet users in the world (and growing), it is essential that businesses can effectively manage their communications with the people that are speaking to them and vice versa. However, with so many channels to choose from, particularly with the growth of social media – how can businesses make sure that they are offering the right communication channels to their customers and prospects and how do they manage these channels and interactions?

Phone Customer Service

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How to Build a Super Support Team

By | Customer Experience

The support function is an important aspect of any business. They are responsible for the customer’s experience, post-sale. They are here to help resolve issues and answer queries, to provide a high quality of service which ensures that their customers’ opinions of the products or services that they purchased and their opinions about the company itself, do not change in the long term.

Support team Customer service

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Can Automation Improve Customer Experiences?

By | Customer Experience

Firstly, let’s talk about James.  James has an issue with his car insurance and decides to call them on his lunch break. He carefully selects the department he needs to talk to.

Sheila also has an issue with her car insurance and like James decides to call them once on her lunch break and just like James she carefully selects the department she needs to talk to.

customer survey

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