There is a little bit of confusion online as to what ‘integrated calling’ really pertains to. Verizon subscribers, for instance, might think it simply refers to the brand’s instant messaging and calling integration feature.
For professionals, especially those in the sales, marketing, and business process outsourcing, integrated calling is an alternate way of referring to CTI or computer telephony integration.
CTI is technology that merges the telephone with the computer. This interaction enables better and speedier handling of phone calls. With the right application, it can personalize the interaction, and make call authentication faster.
In sales and marketing, integrated calling translates to a more efficient way of reaching out to our leads and clients.
This is because any point of contact is data driven. An inbound call is immediately transferred to relevant departments. The caller’s information is brought up right away through automated screen pop-ups. Their issues and concerns are immediately updated. There are notes about conversations, deals and agreements that ensure the continuity of service.
Take note, however, that integrated calling is a general term. It refers to any technology that allows the interaction between your phone and computer systems. It could be as simple as a call routing technology that automatically transfers calls – and that’s it. Or, it could be systems tailor-fit for big call centers that deal with large numbers of inbound calls daily. It could also be one that is customized for you sales team’s needs.
The key for effective computer integrated telephony that increases the productivity of your sales and marketing team lies in the applications you use and the stability of the CTI servers you employ. Know what you need, and then look for a CTI system that fits.
What are the key features of effective computer integrated telephony?
Control and information are the defining characteristics of effective integrated calling. You want to have an enabling system in place, through which you can implement a solution for your specific needs. The goal has to be to enable faster and more productive conversations.
Some of the key features to look for in your integrated phone applications are:
Skill-based routing: At the very basic level, your integrated calling system should be able to route calls to where they should go. This is done through automatic call distribution and interactive voice response, among others technologies used in call routing.
This is especially helpful in managing large volumes of inbound calls. Logical routing can help you manage your resources better. It gives you an idea where to best allot additional manpower and technology investments. Ideally, this should also help you speed up the call processing and improve customer support. When a caller reaches the right person immediately, their concerns can be dealt with faster.
Phone flexibility: An integrated phone system also allows you a variety of devices to use with your designated phone numbers. This gives you the flexibility to take your calls from anywhere. You don’t even need an actual phone!
In a typical sales department setting, calls are routed to your desktop when you’re logged in. You can bring up the caller’s information immediately, take notes and assist accordingly. When you’re not logged in, your calls can be rerouted to your devices.
This set-up ensures access, which is crucial when you want to close deals and cater to your clients.
Caller authentication: A company that manages a large pool of subscribers and their data needs to guarantee their security. A reliable authentication system is required; and, for voice calls, this responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of the call agent.
A good integrated calling systems should make this process easier and more secure for all parties of that call: the caller/ subscriber, the agent and company. Again, for this one, the automated screen pop-up plays an important role in delivering relevant information that the agent can cross-check with the caller.
Call data recording: Through integrated calling, a client’s call and other support channel history, personal and billing data can be instantly brought up or activated. This information is built up in time to provide better service. Plus, it makes your sales team more efficient in call handling. The conversation becomes more personal. You also have everything about the caller literally at the tip of your fingers.
Automated screen pop-up system: This is possibly the main draw of an integrated calling system. It is the interface that holds relevant information about your callers. Details include the caller’s name, email, location, products bought, call history and more.
When configured correctly, it can hasten the resolution of customer issues and concerns. In sales and marketing, reaching out to your leads and current client base becomes easier because you have personal information to back up your talk.
Call monitoring: This integrated phone feature comes in handy when you’ve got a newbie in the team. Listen in and/ or record calls for assessment. Likewise, you can gain helpful insight on your sales life cycle and your team’s effectiveness through call monitoring. Use your data for coaching and retraining purposes, and you might see performance and customer satisfaction levels improve.
Automated dialing: Got a hot lead that you need to constantly follow-up on? Are there numbers that you usually call?
Because computer integrated telephony is all about speeding things up, even outbound calls can be processed faster. This way, your sales team’s productivity, as well as your sales revenue, can increase.
What are the practical applications of integrated calling?
The key features of integrated calling are just that – features. Without thoughtful application, either by your IT team or a third party, you are bound to miss out on CTI’s optimized use.
Make a checklist of what you want to achieve through your integrated calling system. Then, consult with an expert on how to implement this.
Below are a few typical CTI applications.
CRM and CTI: This is, of course, a marriage made in sales department heaven. Sales and marketing departments naturally deal with a lot of inbound and outbound calls, to and from leads and customers alike. Your CRM system helps you manage these many relationships at their different stages. With phones used as a primary means of communications, an integrated calling system fits right in.
There are several CRM and CTI integration packages available in the market. These are designed to suit a variety of industries and business size. Map out your exact needs and choose what’s best for your sales team.
Business process outsourcing companies/ Call centers: Support services of big companies are often outsourced to local of international call centers. In many cases, the services provided by these business process outsourcing companies have been on par with client expectations – thanks to integrated phone systems.
Through intelligent call routing, call center agents seem on-site to callers, who dial either dial a 1-800 or the company’s local number. Client information is accessible with one click. And, call histories are logged. Regardless of who takes the next call, whether someone within the company or the call center, updated data about the client is available.
Phone systems for big boys: Integrated calling systems are also the necessary phone systems for big companies that have multiple departments and satellite offices. It means callers get the convenience of calling one (or multiple) hotlines, depending on their concerns. Calls can easily be transferred within the company or to a contractor when necessary.
How can you benefit from an integrated calling system?
Regardless of the size of your company and your industry, you stand to benefit in implementing an integrated calling system.
First of all, an integrated calling system aligns with the present standards. Customers have come to expect it. Anything less may be regarded as an inconvenience. When you’re in an industry with a high customer defection rate, look at an integrated call system as a necessity. In any case, you stand to benefit from CTI in the long run, anyway.
An integrated calling system is an investment in your team’s efficiency. Whether you have a big sales team or multiple departments, or you provide support to a massive amount of customers, your CTI is there to help you work better.
A reliable CTI system also helps you streamline your operations. Access across departments, from internal or external sources, becomes easier. And since calls are processed faster, your teams can work more efficiently.
Ideally, this should lead to an increase in the productivity of your sales and marketing department, as well as with your support team. Coupled with a robust CRM system, they can convert leads into clients more effectively.
All these efforts can lead to higher sales, and thereby higher revenues. You will see a return in your investment, not just in terms of profit. With integrated calling, you also affect prospect and customer perception and experience. They see your company as a modern entity, one that puts customer convenience on top.
It also becomes easier to retain customers. When you’ve established a good relationship with your clients, one that is backed by a hefty automated pop-up page filled with their information, they are likely to remain loyal. Your CTI system helps you in this respect.
How do you to put an effective integrated calling system in place?
To start off, map the flow of communications within your company, including the flow outward to / inward from clients, prospects, contractors and other partners. This is your communications map, one that you’d want to affect for the better through integrated calling.
Note the information that is exchanged within this map. This should be part of your database, and visible via your automated pop-up screen.
There are several CTI integration packages you can opt to use. These just need to be configured correctly to fit your organization and specific needs. Talk to a consultant about it or refer with your IT department.
Putting together a well though-out integrated calling system is a big company-wide endeavor that pays off immensely in the long run.