The Mixology Of Choosing The Right CTI Vendor
Point of View
January 12, 2022

The Mixology Of Choosing The Right CTI Vendor

The most comprehensive internal checklist for choosing a CTI vendor. You're welcome.

A Comprehensive Checklist for Salesforce Users

An Old Fashioned and a Manhattan both start with bourbon, but the execution and added ingredients yield completely different flavors. Even the sipping experiences diverge; a Manhattan is served in a long-stemmed glass while an Old Fashioned comes with a single, oversized ice cube. If you ordered one and got the other, you’d have a right to complain.

After all, they’re distinct products.

Heading back to the office now, most businesses require a CTI (Call Telephony Integration).

Depending on the industry, making sales can be virtually impossible without a high-performing phone system. An efficient way of speaking to customers is also necessary when providing support.

Some of the most popular phone systems are Five9, Vonage, 8×8, Nextiva, NICE inContact and Amazon Connect. Salesforce has its own system, called Lightning Dialer.

Yet the phone system is only the beginning, like pouring some bourbon in a glass. Depending on your unique needs, you can choose the features that will yield the optimal cocktail of efficiency and customer satisfaction when you mix it up with Salesforce.

We know getting there can be intimidating, so here’s an internal checklist for everything your phone system can accomplish:

Sit Down and Grab A Menu

Start by asking two basic questions. The first is whether your team will be using the CTI for sales or for customer support, or both.

Next, assess whether your team needs inbound or outbound functionality, or both. Inbound phone calls are associated with customer support while outbound calls are to sales teams what a Boston shaker is to a mixologist. See the table below for an overview of these options:

  Inbound Outbound
Sales Uses: Call in to campaign phone number. 
Priorities: Agent matching
Data dips and screen-pop
Campaign tracking
Nice-to-haves: Call transcription
Supervisor View
Uses: Immediacy of contact
Priorities: ASAP dial mode
Call cadence management
Agent matching
Nice-to-haves: Auto-disposition
Local presence
Support Uses: Call center for support issues
Priorities: Agent matching
Data dips and screen-pop
Intelligent IVR
Nice-to-haves: Call transcription
Supervisor View
Uses: Call back when customer leaves voicemail
Priorities: Scheduled call back
Agent matching
Nice-to-haves: Auto-disposition

The rest of the considerations vary based on this divergence; just as making a drink in your kitchen and going out for the night result in completely different experiences.

Inbound: Complex Flavors & Nuances

Here are all the points to take into account when answering calls from leads and customers:

IVR. You’re likely already familiar with Interactive Voice Response systems. Now, think about whether your customers can benefit from a series of adaptable options before being connected to a representative.

Routing requirements. To crack your routing needs, consider if it matters that any given call is picked up by a specific person. There are two main ways to route calls:

  • Skills-based routing ensures leads are connected with agents equipped to help. For an insurance agency, a customer calling from Texas is immediately connected with an agent licensed for Texas. Or, if the customer selected auto insurance when interacting with the IVR, the agent who answers ought to be knowledgeable about auto insurance.
  • Ownership-based routing refers to the fact that agents sometimes own certain accounts, either because of their geographical location or due to pre-existing relationships.

Screenpop. This feature is a nice-to-have for agents, much like an appetizing garnish. When a call comes in, the system recognizes the customer phone number, then displays the customer’s information and history for the agent.

Call features. Your agents may need to be able to transfer calls, add a third participant and mute calls. Then, once a call is finished, consider whether you need to log the call disposition, meaning the outcome and status change resulting from the interaction.

Voicemail. Customers may occasionally want to leave a message. Some solutions allow customers to leave a voicemail in a general mailbox but not for specific agents. This would work great for an insurance firm. At a mortgage company, on the other hand, customers tend to have relationships with specific brokers and want to leave a voicemail for that person only.

You should also take callback functionality into account – it’s as crucial as muddling mint leaves in a Mojito. If a customer is leaving a voicemail message, it might make sense to give them an option to schedule a callback at a specific date and time. This minimizes the chances of them falling through the cracks.

Data dips. Imagine a customer calls their bank and is prompted to enter their credit card information. Once they do so, the system automatically cross-references and confirms that customer’s identity. This high-tech function of taking input on the phone and comparing with the Salesforce database is a data dip. It enhances personalization and speeds up customer service.

You may not need every single one of these features. It’s a matter of your personal appetite, like opting for a mixed drink topped with egg-white foam.

“You can choose the features that will yield the optimal cocktail of efficiency and customer satisfaction when you mix it up with Salesforce.” @Accelerize360

Click to Tweet

Outbound: Straight-up with a Twist

As mentioned previously, outbound calls are associated with sales. Agents need a reliable, methodical approach to contacting new leads.

Dialer. It all starts with a dialer tool, of which there are multiple types:

  • Click-to-dial. Agents merely click a button to connect with the next potential lead. Salesforce’s Lightning Dialer falls into this category.
  • Auto-dialer. This is a great option when your team has a prioritized list of numbers and you want the system to just keep dialing one after the other.
  • Power dialer. If a prospect answers a call, this system finds an available agent in real-time. Best suited for heavy-duty cold-calling, this tool doesn’t provide a great customer experience since the prospect has to wait on the line before an agent picks up.
  • Preview dialer. In this case, the agent sees the phone number and gets a chance to prepare before clicking to call. The system is identifying whom to call but giving the agent a choice.
  • Predictive dialer. To prevent agents getting overwhelmed, this dialer takes agents’ capacity into account and determines in real-time how many calls to make.

Next, consider whether your team is staying compliant when making outbound calls.

Compliance. You may need to set a maximum number of calls agents are allowed to make per day or overall. To stay compliant, you should also check numbers against the DNC, the global registry of do-not-call contacts. Lastly, if someone is not on the list but requests to be added, you will need to re-classify that phone number.

We talked about voicemail in the inbound context, when customers may want to leave a message. Of course, this tool is useful for sales, too.

Voicemail. There are two kinds of voicemails: auto and manual. These are as distinct as an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan. An auto-voicemail drop is when the phone system automatically detects that the call went to the customer’s voicemail and leaves a message. When agents leave voicemails the old-fashioned way, that’s referred to as manual.

Additionally, your company can have multiple voicemail options; depending on the type of customer, the system will automatically leave the appropriate voicemail. This bonus feature is sure to delight, much like a fancy, colorful straw.

HVS. This tool allows you to create customized sales cadences. For instance, you can start with a phone call attempt. If the customer answers the phone, they receive an email message. If they don’t answer the call, the system will automatically send another type of email. These sequences could span multiple contact attempts across channels.

Note that apart from Salesforce’s native Lightning Dialer, none of the other systems integrate with HVS. You might make a phone call from another system, but it won’t register as a call attempt in the cadence.

Mixing a Potent Brew

Regardless of industry, this checklist is a great starting point when researching CTI providers. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions regarding both inbound and outbound functionality.

Our team has plentiful experiences helping clients set up a CTI integration with Salesforce. We won’t tell you what to order, but we’ll make sure you select something that leaves you wanting a second and third.

Customer Support
Point of View
December 20, 2022

The Mixology Of Choosing The Right CTI Vendor

The most comprehensive internal checklist for choosing a CTI vendor. You're welcome.

A Comprehensive Checklist for Salesforce Users

An Old Fashioned and a Manhattan both start with bourbon, but the execution and added ingredients yield completely different flavors. Even the sipping experiences diverge; a Manhattan is served in a long-stemmed glass while an Old Fashioned comes with a single, oversized ice cube. If you ordered one and got the other, you’d have a right to complain.

After all, they’re distinct products.

Heading back to the office now, most businesses require a CTI (Call Telephony Integration).

Depending on the industry, making sales can be virtually impossible without a high-performing phone system. An efficient way of speaking to customers is also necessary when providing support.

Some of the most popular phone systems are Five9, Vonage, 8×8, Nextiva, NICE inContact and Amazon Connect. Salesforce has its own system, called Lightning Dialer.

Yet the phone system is only the beginning, like pouring some bourbon in a glass. Depending on your unique needs, you can choose the features that will yield the optimal cocktail of efficiency and customer satisfaction when you mix it up with Salesforce.

We know getting there can be intimidating, so here’s an internal checklist for everything your phone system can accomplish:

Sit Down and Grab A Menu

Start by asking two basic questions. The first is whether your team will be using the CTI for sales or for customer support, or both.

Next, assess whether your team needs inbound or outbound functionality, or both. Inbound phone calls are associated with customer support while outbound calls are to sales teams what a Boston shaker is to a mixologist. See the table below for an overview of these options:

  Inbound Outbound
Sales Uses: Call in to campaign phone number. 
Priorities: Agent matching
Data dips and screen-pop
Campaign tracking
Nice-to-haves: Call transcription
Supervisor View
Uses: Immediacy of contact
Priorities: ASAP dial mode
Call cadence management
Agent matching
Nice-to-haves: Auto-disposition
Local presence
Support Uses: Call center for support issues
Priorities: Agent matching
Data dips and screen-pop
Intelligent IVR
Nice-to-haves: Call transcription
Supervisor View
Uses: Call back when customer leaves voicemail
Priorities: Scheduled call back
Agent matching
Nice-to-haves: Auto-disposition

The rest of the considerations vary based on this divergence; just as making a drink in your kitchen and going out for the night result in completely different experiences.

Inbound: Complex Flavors & Nuances

Here are all the points to take into account when answering calls from leads and customers:

IVR. You’re likely already familiar with Interactive Voice Response systems. Now, think about whether your customers can benefit from a series of adaptable options before being connected to a representative.

Routing requirements. To crack your routing needs, consider if it matters that any given call is picked up by a specific person. There are two main ways to route calls:

  • Skills-based routing ensures leads are connected with agents equipped to help. For an insurance agency, a customer calling from Texas is immediately connected with an agent licensed for Texas. Or, if the customer selected auto insurance when interacting with the IVR, the agent who answers ought to be knowledgeable about auto insurance.
  • Ownership-based routing refers to the fact that agents sometimes own certain accounts, either because of their geographical location or due to pre-existing relationships.

Screenpop. This feature is a nice-to-have for agents, much like an appetizing garnish. When a call comes in, the system recognizes the customer phone number, then displays the customer’s information and history for the agent.

Call features. Your agents may need to be able to transfer calls, add a third participant and mute calls. Then, once a call is finished, consider whether you need to log the call disposition, meaning the outcome and status change resulting from the interaction.

Voicemail. Customers may occasionally want to leave a message. Some solutions allow customers to leave a voicemail in a general mailbox but not for specific agents. This would work great for an insurance firm. At a mortgage company, on the other hand, customers tend to have relationships with specific brokers and want to leave a voicemail for that person only.

You should also take callback functionality into account – it’s as crucial as muddling mint leaves in a Mojito. If a customer is leaving a voicemail message, it might make sense to give them an option to schedule a callback at a specific date and time. This minimizes the chances of them falling through the cracks.

Data dips. Imagine a customer calls their bank and is prompted to enter their credit card information. Once they do so, the system automatically cross-references and confirms that customer’s identity. This high-tech function of taking input on the phone and comparing with the Salesforce database is a data dip. It enhances personalization and speeds up customer service.

You may not need every single one of these features. It’s a matter of your personal appetite, like opting for a mixed drink topped with egg-white foam.

“You can choose the features that will yield the optimal cocktail of efficiency and customer satisfaction when you mix it up with Salesforce.” @Accelerize360

Click to Tweet

Outbound: Straight-up with a Twist

As mentioned previously, outbound calls are associated with sales. Agents need a reliable, methodical approach to contacting new leads.

Dialer. It all starts with a dialer tool, of which there are multiple types:

  • Click-to-dial. Agents merely click a button to connect with the next potential lead. Salesforce’s Lightning Dialer falls into this category.
  • Auto-dialer. This is a great option when your team has a prioritized list of numbers and you want the system to just keep dialing one after the other.
  • Power dialer. If a prospect answers a call, this system finds an available agent in real-time. Best suited for heavy-duty cold-calling, this tool doesn’t provide a great customer experience since the prospect has to wait on the line before an agent picks up.
  • Preview dialer. In this case, the agent sees the phone number and gets a chance to prepare before clicking to call. The system is identifying whom to call but giving the agent a choice.
  • Predictive dialer. To prevent agents getting overwhelmed, this dialer takes agents’ capacity into account and determines in real-time how many calls to make.

Next, consider whether your team is staying compliant when making outbound calls.

Compliance. You may need to set a maximum number of calls agents are allowed to make per day or overall. To stay compliant, you should also check numbers against the DNC, the global registry of do-not-call contacts. Lastly, if someone is not on the list but requests to be added, you will need to re-classify that phone number.

We talked about voicemail in the inbound context, when customers may want to leave a message. Of course, this tool is useful for sales, too.

Voicemail. There are two kinds of voicemails: auto and manual. These are as distinct as an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan. An auto-voicemail drop is when the phone system automatically detects that the call went to the customer’s voicemail and leaves a message. When agents leave voicemails the old-fashioned way, that’s referred to as manual.

Additionally, your company can have multiple voicemail options; depending on the type of customer, the system will automatically leave the appropriate voicemail. This bonus feature is sure to delight, much like a fancy, colorful straw.

HVS. This tool allows you to create customized sales cadences. For instance, you can start with a phone call attempt. If the customer answers the phone, they receive an email message. If they don’t answer the call, the system will automatically send another type of email. These sequences could span multiple contact attempts across channels.

Note that apart from Salesforce’s native Lightning Dialer, none of the other systems integrate with HVS. You might make a phone call from another system, but it won’t register as a call attempt in the cadence.

Mixing a Potent Brew

Regardless of industry, this checklist is a great starting point when researching CTI providers. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions regarding both inbound and outbound functionality.

Our team has plentiful experiences helping clients set up a CTI integration with Salesforce. We won’t tell you what to order, but we’ll make sure you select something that leaves you wanting a second and third.