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How to integrate your Phone System with SugarCRM through CTI

How to integrate your Phone System with SugarCRM through CTI

Computer Telephony Integration, or CTI, requires thoughtful implementation. Large-scale technical integrations can challenge organizations to collaborate across business units, share data, and adopt standardization practices that require unlearning old habits.

The ever-expanding list of add-ons and integrations makes the system-to-system communication required to execute CTI for a phone system easier with each passing year. As detailed below, small businesses can take advantage of cloud-based, software-free solutions, while enterprise clients can continue to implement bespoke solutions to serve their thousands—or millions—of clients.

Every phone system requires a dedicated integration process, but few present impassable barriers. Here’s how to manage the technical aspects of SugarCRM CTI integration.

SugarCRM: What and Why

According to SugarCRM, their product offers small business owners relief—relief from complex, enterprise-focused CRMs that have come to dominate the CRM marketplace. The company’s emphasis on developing a simple, intuitive platform has made it an obvious and very popular choice.

Cupertino-based SugarCRM has grown from a three-person startup in 2004 to a CRM serving more than 2 million individuals in more than 120 countries. SugarCRM proudly wears the label of “disrupter” within the CRM industry. The rapidly expanding CRM platform divides its product into six categories:

  1. Enterprise
  2. Sales
  3. Customer Service
  4. Marketing
  5. Mobile
  6. Platform

Beyond the streamlined design and clean interface, SugarCRM offers a key feature for CTI: simple integration with existing IT systems. For SugarCRM phone integration, this removes many of the roadblocks that can stall implementation or delay sign-off from the C-Suite.

PCMag.com scored SugarCRM above several enterprise-level competitors in 2016, outpacing industry giants such as Oracle, Microsoft, and SAP. While it narrowly outpaced rivals on marks like ‘Reliability’ and ‘Tech Support Satisfaction’, it differentiated its product impressively on cumulative metrics such as ‘Likelihood to Recommend’ and ‘Net Promoter Score’.

Types of SugarCRM Integrations

SugarCRM typically requires independent configuration. While flexible, it’s not regularly used as an out-of-the-box solution. SugarCRM offers two integration capabilities:

  1. Real time. Real-time integrations connect to the SugarCRM API to push and pull data. High demand for real-time integration may necessitate a dedicated server to manage requests to and from the SugarCRM. Proper infrastructure avoids latency in access and updates to data.
  2. Batch processed. Batch-processed integrations are scheduled to occur at a specific time (often overnight). Because batch processing pushes or pulls substantial amounts of data, SugarCRM recommends against batch processing during peak hours. For always-on call centers or systems, breaking up batch processing into multiple rounds can reduce server load.

SugarCRM Add-ons for CTI

Independently developed add-ons streamline SugarCRM CTI integration when not handled by phone system providers or in-house teams. Several CTI add-ons provide different levels of connectivity to SugarCRM. A complete list of add-ons developed for SugarCRM CTI is available on the company’s SugarExchange.

All-In-One CTI

All-In-One CTI connects with Avaya, Samsung, LG-Ericsson, Cisco, Asterisk, and FreePBX systems. It supports integrations that include:

  • Pop-up notifications of incoming calls
  • Click-to-call functionality
  • “Smart transfer” to assigned employees
  • Call logs
  • Android device support

All-In-One tops the list of Sugar CTI add-ons. Pricing varies based on the phone system as well as user level and ranges from a yearly $36 per user fee to a one-time $699 installation.

Avaya Integration

Avaya Integration, an add-on from third-party developer Vedisfot, provides a system-specific solution with features like All-In-One CTI. Avaya Integration works for Avaya PBX and Avaya IP Office phone systems. Features include:

  • Pop-up notifications of incoming calls
  • Click-to-call functionality
  • Call logs

The system-specific integration with Avaya eliminates the need for the tiered pricing structure common to multi-system add-ons. The add-on is available for a one-time $799 fee. It’s compatible with core editions of SugarCRM and all SugarCRM versions between 6.0.0 and 7.9.0.0.

Tenfold

Tenfold offers CTI integrations for SugarCRM, among several other systems. Tenfold integrates with more than 100 phone systems, including major providers such as RingCentral, Cisco, Avaya, Asterisk, and others. Features include:

  • Pop-up notifications of incoming calls
  • Click-to-call functionality
  • “Smart transfer” to assigned employees
  • Call logs
  • Notetaking and task creation capabilities

SugarCRM phone integration for major providers

Avaya

For in-house teams, Avaya maintains technical documentation on configuring its Aura Application Enablement Services (AES) CTI Engine as a downloadable PDF on its support site. While the most recent version dates to September 2016, documentation changes frequently, with September’s version 4.2 representing the sixth release by Avaya, the first coming in March 2016.

Mitel

Mitel’s BusinessCTI offers click-to-call functionality across several software applications in addition to CRMs. Other features include callback, call forwarding, call transfer, and conference call setup. Callers whose names exist in the CRM display upon call-in. Call diversion can automatically reroute calls based on availability. Sales staff and others can also transfer voicemail to PC systems.

NEC

MyCalls is NEC’s comprehensive CRM CTI. It offers a full suite of CTI services to support call centers and other high-volume facilities. Call logs offer managers transparency into total calls, answered and unanswered calls, and service level ratings. Features like call recording and on-demand playback support sales staff seeking to recover past conversations or manage disputes.

Nextiva

Nextiva uses Go Integrator for its SugarCRM CTI. Features include easy dialing and customer record syncing. Compared to some competitors, Go Integrator has lower installation and maintenance costs. Nextiva manages two versions of the product, Lite and DB. The fuller DB version includes additional benefits such as click-to-call functionality, simultaneous searching of multiple CRMs, call logs, and ‘smart transfer’. Installation is available via software download from Nextiva.

Panasonic

Panasonic’s CTI software is Communication Assistant. Communication Assistant handles CTI access beyond CRMs, connecting to Microsoft Outlook and other business communication channels.

RingCentral

RingCentral offers download-free SugarCRM phone integration. The cloud-based system avoids the need to install software on every device through remote hosting. RingCentral functionality extends beyond desk phones to include mobile devices and computers, providing all relevant staff with CTI benefits on almost every work-related platform.

Making the business case for SugarCRM CTI

Even when cloud-based systems and basic CTI setups lower the height of technological hurdles, CTI may still represent a significant business investment that requires bottom-line justification. Consistently, however, companies have found that the ROI for CTI is clear, with industry media reporting that users experience increased productivity and greater client satisfaction.

That benefit ties back to the value of business intelligence. CTI makes better use of data already known to be critical to an enterprise’s success. CTI removes virtual barriers between data sources and provides those in contact with customers the information they need to answer potential clients’ questions and resolve existing clients’ issues.

From the perspective of staff fielding client calls, CTI means:

  • Answering calls they’re qualified to answer.
  • Getting immediate access to client history.
  • Spending less time asking clients the same introductory questions.

From the perspective of the client, CTI means:

  • The first person who answers can solve their problem.
  • Company staff has full knowledge of past requests and preferences.
  • Support or sales staff get to the root of the issue quickly.

The variety of CTI options with SugarCRM—even for the same phone system—ensure implementation that’s feasible for organizations using any edition of SugarCRM.

Next Steps

So where to go from here? There are basic questions to answer, such as how much bandwidth is necessary to give all relevant team members access to data on demand.

But SugarCRM CTI can connect essential consumer data to those interacting with consumers on a daily basis. For businesses of all sizes, CTI is a first step toward turning a highly organized client database into revenue. That transition traces a path from understanding incoming calls to saving representative (and client) time to creating a more efficient workforce and happier clients.

All that’s left is pairing a SugarCRM platform with a phone provider. From there, choose the add-on or independent SugarCRM phone integration that makes the most sense to grow the business.

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Dan Sincavage

Dan Sincavage

Dan is a Co-Founder of Tenfold and currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer. Dan oversees the Tenfold sales organization, manages strategic partner relationships and works with key enterprise accounts to ensure their success with the Tenfold platform.

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