The tentative solutions offered to PBX system vendors to open up their phone switches turned out to be a beneficial set of technologies. It was achieved partly due to high need to adopt common technical standards for both vendors and businesses. The basic standard level implies implementation of operational standard for board level hardware. However, there are vendors that impose specifications to make applications work on specific board sets.
Computer software companies also establish standards for application to perform appropriately with specific operating systems
Thus, Microsoft and Novell proposed TAPI and TSAPI standards respectively in order to force switch vendors develop compatible systems so that developers could use Microsoft and Novell’s operating system platforms as the basis for CTI applications.
Some of the applications were aimed at controlling calls and their routing and tracking through the phone network particularly. Numerous applications were developed in order to provide benefits from bringing call related data to the PC screen through the LAN and phone connections at the time phone call from customer was received. Standards, thus, are required in order to ensure smooth integration of business phone system and applications for voice and data networks. The Internet made PBX vendors as well as computer industry to become even more standardized in using applications. Development and adoption of Java scripts, ODBC, and TCP/IP as data communication standards made building applications for data manipulation and call control easier.
Although previously it was assumed that majority of applications required dedicated hardware to ensure wholesome telephony switching, now all the value-adding add-ons, for example call center specific applications, can be built-in elements of telephony server in the phone switch. However, most commonly used server is Windows NT box.
Yet, there are more standards that ensure interoperability of connections, as there are numerous possible combinations in any voice/data application. For example, voice applications for voice response systems could be developed for various types of voice calls, including traditional calls as well as calls with recorded messages, fax traffic calls, and touch-tone. The applications that retrieve data are similar in function but start with the host information in the back-office database. These applications make the data move to and back from the desktop screens through corporate LANs, intranets, and the Internet, including e-mails.
Although previously applications used to separate data and voice streams, today applications are developed to distinguish between various combinations of voice and data. Thus, today applications can distinguish and separate such combinations of elements as voice-over-Internet, fax-over-Internet, browser-based transaction processing, speech recognition, etc. Such combinations were made possible only due to standardization and coordination between voice and data pathways. Yet, despite that the form, in which information becomes available, happens to be irrelevant, and the access to the information can be controlled.
Such features as real-time, personal client-company communication backed up with immediate access to necessary data add value to company’s communication through CTI system.
At its dawn, computer telephony was rather vendor technology built-in the main telecom system. It required the switch to be either embedded or open to particular middleware applications that companied wanted to use. Nowadays, integration takes place in the background, since products and applications for specific purposes, e.g. call center operations, assume higher level of CTI promptness in regard to both switches and call center infrastructure.
CTI system integration offers wide transformation opportunities not only to sophisticated high-volume call centers. Small companies are now able to afford taking advantage of automated number identification, dialed number identification service, as well as other applications to deal with calls at much lower cost. Having CTI system implemented allows small players in their industries compete effectively with their most epic rivals in the market.
The most evident benefits that computer telephony integration brings to companies and their call centers include:
- Decrease in time for handling calls
- Substantial decrease in hold time
- Increased efficiency and speed of retrieving necessary information to agent’s desktop screen
- Reduced costs on telecom usage
- Increased sales.
Implementation of CTI systems will benefit not only companies and their call center operations, but also will make customers more satisfied with companies’ customer service, as their call requests will be handled quickly and effectively in accordance to their appeals. CTI system will enable call center agents deal with more customer calls and solve more customer issues without having to pass the call from one agent to another.
Having CTI system implemented will also provide companies with opportunities to make a better use of call center staff and gain greater efficiencies through creating dynamic and responsive group configuration. If, for example, incoming calls decrease, more call center agents can be moved to perform outbound calling, which is quite easy with CTI. Furthermore, computer telephony makes meaningful information on callers available to people and agents, who can make most use of it.
CTI system enables companies to improve customer service with or without direct intervention of company’s call center agents, as customers are able to serve themselves on their own. Furthermore, CTI system will make it easier and more cost-efficient to deal with traditionally expensive tasks, such as order processing, interactive faxing, etc. via Internet or company’s intranets.