Are you in a high call volume environment? You’re probably familiar with how important it is to save time on each call while also ensuring the quality standards are met. For call centers, sales floors, and other client-facing teams engaged in huge amounts of voice-based activities, there is a constant need to improve efficiency and accelerate processes. One less second per call in a floor of a hundred agents easily means significant impact to the bottomline.
Technology to meet these challenges and needs are constantly getting developed and polished. Leading the pack in the pursuit for better results through technology in this context is CTI.
What is CTI?
Computer-telephony integration or CTI is the technology that allows computers to control telephone systems. With CTI, users are able to do call-related tasks directly from their computer. Users of Cisco PBX and Cisco desk phones could use Cisco CTI technology with minimized spending compared to building and maintaining expensive communication infrastructure.
Cisco phones are widely used in call centers and other high call volume settings. Cisco CTI can help these users enhance their productivity in a scalable manner.
Cisco CTI benefits three key areas of any high call volume operation: costs, productivity, and quality.
Current state of call centers
Service and support reps are often inundated with calls, resulting in longer wait times for customers and prospects calling in. When a customer finally connects with an agent, a long Q&A process comes next, all in the purpose of uncovering what the customer is calling about.
It’s not unusual for a customer to be transferred several times before finally getting the person who can help them on the line. This type of customer experience is common across contact centers, and it results to not only unhappy customers but error filled records as agents scramble to take notes and enter data into their systems. All in all, the result is lost profits and wasted time.
Cisco CTI benefit #1: Reduced costs
On the average, more than half of the cost of running a contact center is associated with the workforce. Ranging from hundreds to thousands of seats, each second saved on each call makes a huge impact on reducing business overhead for a call center. Of course, saved time also means that agents are able to deliver better service and that agents are getting more efficient in their work.
In service call centers, call queues can be endless. It takes the combination of competent reps and an ironclad workforce management strategy to handle the calls efficiently. When calls are slowed down and call resolutions are delayed, both the customer and the call center lose. Wait times are added costs to the customer, and the negative customer experience can lead to business loss.
For call centers that use Cisco, CTI can reduce costs by:
- Quicker call resolution, shorter average handling times by displaying contextual information right at the call
- Maximizing effective talk minutes per hour per agent by eliminating non-talk tasks like data entry and call logging
- Reduced need for expensive communication infrastructure
- Better workforce management by reducing hard to measure agent time-sinks like editing notes, creating new tasks, revising call history, manual dialling
- Improved service level directly impacts customer retention, netting a better return on investment for overhead costs
- Ability to handle more calls as the average handling time is reduced
Cisco CTI benefit #2: Increased productivity
Call centers that implement CTI reduce the average duration of calls, driving better productivity numbers. An efficient and productive call center is one where agents spend most of their time handling calls as opposed to admin tasks. With Cisco CTI, call centers can handle higher call volumes without having to ramp up their hiring.
When it comes to efficiency, there are a lot of moving parts in each call that call centers stand to save more time if they can shave seconds at every step. From call holds, warm transfers, and CRM updates, the right Cisco CTI will let agents collaborate better and save both time and effort.
A big issue in customer service and customer success teams is the lack of collaboration. A Cisco CTI with the right fit will enable your team to truly work cohesively and provide best-in-class service and support to your clientele.
Cisco CTI benefit #3: Improved service levels
The impact of CTI technology on improving the performance of service teams can’t be understated. Apart from enabling teams to shave time off each call, the features that come with a good CTI solution provide ways to improve the customer experience, something that was difficult and, in some cases, even impossible pre-CTI.
Here are some ways CTI improves customer service:
- Expedites the discovery phase of the call by providing pertinent data right at the moment of interaction
- Enables reps to provide personalized service from the beginning of each call with the access to contextual data through the screenpop display
- Results in better data integrity and accuracy through automated call logging
- Reduces friction in customer service calls by retaining customer information through call transfers
How to choose the right Cisco CTI
There are many CTI providers but finding the right fit is crucial for a call center to reap the benefits of CTI. Here are the best practices to remember when shopping for a CTI vendor:
Know your needs
The topmost factors to consider when looking for a computer telephony integration is the particular version of your Cisco phone system and the CRM you’re using. If you’re using Salesforce, search for the best Salesforce-Cisco CTI vendors and check if they tick all your boxes. Consider the number of seats in your center and also the particular features you need. A good way to start this process is by reviewing the current workflows of your team and find the gaps that can be filled, bridged, or made more efficient.
Identify your desired outcome
A lot of CTI providers offer similar features but the ways they deliver them vary. Sign up for demos and during them, put yourself in the shoes of the customer. When looking for a solution, it’s so easy to get carried away by the bells and whistles, and lose sight that the goal is to be able to improve customer experience and have better conversations with your customers.
You can test this right from the get-go by evaluating your vendors right from the beginning: the way they handle you as a customer. If they’re able to deliver great customer experience like they promise you’ll be able to when you sign up for their service, that’s a good sign that they’re worth their salt. Many providers of tech solutions especially in the communications space are unable to demonstrate the service level they say you’d be able to achieve with their solution; and that’s always not a good sign.
Research after-sales support
Many companies are only good at selling but very poor at following through on their promises. When it comes to running a call center, ensuring the best uptime is crucial. Every second counts, and downtime that lasts a few minutes can translate to a significant loss in profit.
Inquire directly about their support offers. You can leverage the size of your center to get customizations, and depending on the size of their deal with you, vendors can include support packages that help ensure you get timely service to monitor and respond to issues.
A dedicated account manager is also something you must ensure you get, so you know your point of contact when you need a quick answer or in case you need immediate assistance.
Inquire about training resources
The most effective solution is one that gets used. Any Cisco CTI won’t be effective if reps are not going to use it. As with any new software that changes workflow, ensuring that your teams get the appropriate assistance and training as they adjust to using the new solution is crucial. Don’t hesitate to ask about the availability of onboarding resources and other self-service training tools even when you’re still at the consideration stage.
From research up to implementation, there are many factors that affect the success of a Cisco CTI solution. Contact centers stand to benefit from the right one, and if you’re in the process of evaluating vendors, feel free to take this article as your guide.
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