What is contact center CTI (computer telephony integration)?
Time to read: 5 minutes
Phones and computers are powerful devices. Alone, each can solve plenty of day-to-day problems. But together, these two are an unbeatable duo.
Computer telephony integrations (CTI) empower you to connect your phone to your call center software on a computer, unlocking advanced functionality and communication options.
Below, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about CTI and how your business can use it to enhance customer and user experiences.
CTI is the technology that allows phones and computers to interact in call centers. Using features like screen pops, automated dialing, routing, and call monitoring, CTI systems can increase efficiency and provide a better customer experience through seamless integration. This allows teams juggling high call volumes to overcome long wait times and employee burnout.
Though the technology has been around since 1992, newer CTI integrations for chat, SMS, video, and social media have helped evolve the call centers of years past into modern-day contact centers. These integrations between CTI software and customer relationship management (CRM) tools facilitate robust information sharing and bring people together like never before.
CTI is part of a larger call center technology stack—often including CRMs, internal communication tools, and data storage systems. All this customer information must be accessible to agents fielding calls to help them engage in productive conversations and work toward solutions quickly.
So how do these systems work together?
First, the contact center telephony switch captures incoming phone calls. Next, the CTI platform stores data from the call and prompts a ticket in the CRM system. Then, the agent receives data from the call in a screen pop and answers, already knowing the customer’s name, reason for calling, and service history.
Key CTI technology features include:
- Advanced phone controls: Centralized computer dashboards allow agents to put callers on hold, mute themselves, and transfer calls to other agents. By using one integrated channel, agents avoid unnecessary distractions and delays caused by switching between phones and computers.
- Automated dialing: Automated outgoing calls enable sales teams to reach more prospects, increase business, and send bulk announcements whenever needed.
- Automated screen pops: Screen pops show agents the customer’s name, contact information, and call history they need to respond to incoming calls quickly and effectively.
- Caller authentication: The system automatically logs incoming call phone numbers into the company’s database. Screening incoming calls reduces the amount of information callers must give—minimizing hassle for customers and call time for agents.
- Call monitoring: Monitoring live calls can help resolve disputes, evaluate agent performance, and train new contact center staff. Managers and coaches can listen in real time to lend a hand as needed.
- Data recording: Touch-tone phone entries or call recordings can extract caller information and integrate it into the database to equip agents with valuable data and save detailed records of calls.
- Intelligent call routing: Automatic call distributors and interactive voice response systems route calls to available agents best equipped to handle the customer’s issue. CTI routing reduces wait time and accelerates resolutions.
Typically, contact centers or customer service departments with high call volumes use CTI, but the technology can also accommodate business scaling when implemented from the ground up.
The primary benefits of CTI are the features and functionality, but the business case for CTI extends much further. CTI also:
In an industry with a notoriously high turnover rate, implementing solutions that reduce manual labor and frustration can improve the agent experience. Employees appreciate access to resources and tools to be more productive. Plus, when their jobs are easier, they can serve customers better, improving their performance scores.
One negative customer service experience can cause someone to defect to a competitor. But providing agents with more information and greater capabilities helps them put the customer first and provide a positive experience.
By taking advantage of CTI features, contact centers can ensure customers enjoy a frictionless, expedited path to satisfaction rather than sitting on hold for an hour or answering the same questions repeatedly. That’s because the agents handling their calls have had proper training by listening to call recordings and receiving live coaching experiences proven to elevate efficiency.
Operating on a lean budget is the goal of nearly every for-profit enterprise. But for contact centers with high call volumes, long hold times mean longer queues, which lead to abandoned callers and potential loss of business. Companies that use CTI technology can better resolve customer complaints in a timely manner, which can increase customer retention and referrals that generate additional business.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how modern-day businesses and organizations use CTI technology to improve user experiences and even save lives.
Lyft uses Twilio Flex's call center solution to empower drivers and customers to get the help they need—when they need it and on the channel they want. The CTI integration connects to associates' phones, letting them use their computers to navigate simultaneous conversations across multiple channels.
Child Helpline International aims to decrease the percentage of unanswered calls by using a multichannel call center with advanced CTI features—which is crucial given that of the more than 30 million calls child helplines receive, 30% go unanswered. With the help of Flex, helpline agents can navigate multiple conversations simultaneously over phone, text, and social media while enabling volunteers to use personal devices.
The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and mental health organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people. It uses Flex's call center functionality to serve more people in crisis across multiple channels.
Investing in CTI can bring call centers numerous advantages. But how do you get started? Contact centers can get a CTI phone number and access CTI telephony through a contact center as a service provider or build a custom platform. Increasingly, companies are choosing the latter, as using programmable APIs to build a contact center creates a flexible and superior customer experience at scale.
Twilio Flex is a customizable contact center platform. With our programmable APIs, businesses can fully deploy a flexible cloud contact center in a matter of days while facilitating a more efficient and customer-first operation.
Businesses will also find that Flex provides seamless operation by integrating with existing systems such as Salesforce. Supercharging omnichannel customer communications with the Flex Salesforce CTI is available at no extra cost with a Flex license. Plus, with single sign-on and a single user interface, Twilio customers enjoy the combined power of Flex and Salesforce working as one.
CTI stands for computer telephony integration. This is the technology that allows phones and computers to interact in call centers.
An example of CTI technology in action is when a call center agent receives a phone call, answers it from their computer, and uses other functionality, like screen pops, automatic dialing, routing, and call monitoring. CTI enables the connection between the agent’s phone and computer.
In technology, CTI means computer telephony integration, which refers to the technology that connects phones and computers in call centers. This allows for advanced functionality and a more seamless customer experience.
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