Computer Telephony Integration or CTI is a technology that allows a telephone and a computer to work coordinately. CTI includes integration of all customer contact channels, viz. voice, email, web, fax, and many more. Some common features implementing CTI are:
CTI can be implemented in two forms – i) First-party call control, and ii) Third-party call control.
- Call information display (caller's number (ANI), number dialed (DNIS), and Screen population on answer, with or without using calling line data
- Automatic dialing and computer controlled dialing (fast dial, preview, and predictive dial)
- Phone control (answer, hang up, hold, conference, etc.)
- Coordinated phone and data transfers between two parties (i.e. pass on the Screen-Pop with the call)
- Call center phone control. (logging on; after-call work notification)
- Advanced functions such as call routing, reporting functions, automation of desktop activities, and multi-channel blending of phone, e-mail, and web requests
- Agent state control (for example, after-call work for a set duration, then automatic change to the ready state)
- Call control for Quality Monitoring/call recording software
First-party call control operates as if there is a direct connection between the user’s computer and the telephone set, just like a modem card in a desktop computer, or a phone directly connected into the computer. The phone connected to the computer is controlled through direct commands send to it by the computer. The computer is the sole controller of the phone and its functions. First-party call control is the easiest form of CTI to implement but may not be well-suited for large scaled networks and organizations such as call centers.
Third-party call control is the more intricate implementation of CTI as it requires a dedicated telephony server to interface between the telephone network and the computer network as done in the call centers. The telephony server is the central controller in the whole network. The user sends commands from his computer to this telephone server and in turn the server controls the telephone system centrally. So actually there is no direct contact of the computer and the telephone, all control is help by an external third party, i.e. the telephony server. This implementation allows any computer on the network to control any telephone connected to the system server.
CTI solutions help companies to maintain their CRM systems efficiently and effectively. CTI allows data collected from the telephone systems to be used as input data to query databases with customer information and populate that data instantaneously in the customer service representative screen. The net effect is the agent already has the required screen on his/her terminal before speaking with the customer.