Finding software can be overwhelming. Software Advice helps call centers choose the right computer telephony integration software so they can improve agent interactions and integrate CRM data.

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PhoneBurner

PhoneBurner is an outbound call center solution that allows users to log in from their computer and make calls from the connected phone, using imported or admin-provided lead lists. The system offers functionalities that include p... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 4 recommendations

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NICE CXone

With the highest reliability ratings in the call center software market, inContact helps its customers optimally process over one billion calls per year. ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Dialpad

For quickly growing businesses looking to efficiently scale their support teams, Dialpad provides a cloud-based call center with access to real-time customer insights. Dialpad allows users to onboard quickly and focus on deliverin... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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CloudAgent

CloudAgent is a cloud-based call center solution that enables businesses to engage and interact with customers via multiple channels including voice, chat, email, SMS messages and social media platforms. Professionals can utilize ... Read more

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Recent recommendations: 2 recommendations

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Zendesk

Used by over 20,000 global companies, Zendesk has made a name for itself as a sophisticated, yet simple Web-based help desk solution.... Read more

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Zoho Desk

Zoho Desk is a cloud-based help desk solution from Zoho Corporation, catering to businesses of all sizes. Key features include management of customer support tickets, a customer support portal, contract management and report creat... Read more

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LiveAgent

LiveAgent is an online live chat platform for e-commerce businesses at the small and midsize level. The platform offers live chat application, ticket management, online self-service portals and change and license management, all a... Read more

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RingCentral MVP

RingCentral MVP is a cloud-based business communications solution that offers tools for Messaging, Video and Phone. Core features of the solution include conferencing, auto-recording and unlimited long-distance and local calling. ... Read more

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Talkdesk

Talkdesk is a cloud-based call center solution that helps businesses improve customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing customer support costs. It uses interactive voice response (IVR), automatic call distribution (ACD) a... Read more

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GoToConnect

GoToConnect (formerly Jive) delivers a cloud-based unified communication solution to organizations of all sizes across the U.S. GoToConnect includes integrated products for business VoIP, video conferencing and contact center whic... Read more

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Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is a client management solution that provides a platform for businesses to organize and track interactions with potential or existing clients and partners. The software allows users to log and manage client interactions, ... Read more

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Five9

Five9 is a hosted call center system that can be used across call centers of all sizes. It's suitable for companies in the retail, telecommunications, banking and health care industries.... Read more

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Textedly

Textedly is a cloud-based SMS marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. The system offers mass group texting, text scheduling and customizable auto replies. Users can send texts over 300 characters long. The system also off... Read more

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Grasshopper

Grasshopper is a cloud-based virtual phone service that helps small to midsize enterprises establish communication with customers through local and toll-free numbers. It provides several modules, including call forwarding, multipl... Read more

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CallHippo

CallHippo is a cloud-based call center solution that helps mid to large size businesses with workflow automation and virtual telephony. The platform enables users to give detailed analysis to customers through call recordings. Cal... Read more

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VoIP.ms

VoIP.ms is a cloud-based internet phone service solution designed to help businesses manage local, mobile and toll-free number portability across Canada and United States. Key features include voicemail, call waiting, caller ID, D... Read more

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VICIdial

VICIdial is an open-source, cloud-based contact center solution suitable for small to large call centers in a variety of industries. Key features include inbound and outbound calls, call routing, email integration, online chat and... Read more

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Aircall

Aircall provides a web-based phone system that includes call recording, computer telephony integration, workforce scheduling and more. The system can be used by companies of all sizes, even start ups. ... Read more

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MiCloud Connect

MiCloud Connect (formerly ShoreTel) is a cloud-based VoIP phone system that offers collaboration and conferencing tools to enable information flow within the organization. The solution enables system administrators to manage use... Read more

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3CX

3CX Phone System is a software-based IP PBX for Windows. In addition to a range of PBX features, 3CX offers Web conferencing via Web Real-Time Communication. Modules are available for hotels, call centers and CRM integrations. ... Read more

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Buyers guide

Imagine you’re an agent at a busy call center: you’re fielding dozens of phone calls a day with customers you’ve never met, and you want to make a good impression on all of them. Don’t you want to be as prepared and efficient as possible?

One of the best ways to set up your call center team for success in the environment described is by investing in a system with computer telephony integration (CTI). CTI is an important category of call center software: It enables phone and computer systems to work together for the benefit of your agents and your customers.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know to choose the right CTI system for your company, such as:

What Is CTI?
Common Functionality of CTI
Benefits of CTI
CTI Implementation Options
Integration Considerations

What Is CTI?

CTI, or computer telephony integration, is also known as “computer-telephone integration” or “computer telephony.” These terms may sound intimidating, but their basic meaning is straightforward: CTI is technology that lets you use a computer to initiate, manage and enhance your phone calls.

CTI is often used as a jargon term for describing integrations between a phone system and a customer relationship management (CRM) system that has already been deployed. These integrations add features to enhance both systems and help agents better handle interactions.

An example of how they do this is “screen pops”—a window that pops up on an agent's computer screen when they have an incoming phone call. That window displays information about the caller, e.g., address and interaction history, which is pulled from the call center’s existing CRM program.

3CLogic and Zoho CRM integration showing the “click-to-dial” function
This is what a screen pop might look like in a typical CTI solution.

 

This phone system-computer coordination is made possible through CTI. Though it’s most common for CTI to be used for CRM integrations, it is also good for other types of integrations.

For instance, many organizations now use CTI to allow their accounting software to interface with their phone system. Agents can call customers with unpaid invoices directly from their accounting software through functionality called “click-to-dial” (more details on this below).

To recap: CTI software acts as a bridge for the exchange of data and functionalities between a company’s phone system and other existing programs, such as CRM or accounting solutions.

 

Common Functionality of CTI

Vendors offer a variety of functional breadth and depth in their CTI solutions. Here are some of the most common capabilities:

Screen pops In addition to what we’ve already described, screen pops can indicate the priority level of an interaction with a caller based on customer history data from your CRM program. They can also use a customer’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system answers to display the purpose of a call (e.g., sales or support).
Click-to-dial This function adds outbound dialing capabilities to the databases of contacts you'd find in a CRM or accounting system. Agents can skip manual dialing and simply click a phone number on their computer screen to place a call.
Caller authentication CTI software screens incoming calls and uses the phone number to find a match in your CRM system. It can confirm the caller’s identity before the call even starts.
Phone controls Users can manage their phone controls through the computer instead of dialing buttons manually. These include the ability to answer, hang-up, conference, forward and transfer calls.
Logging and notes Basic information is automatically logged in the CRM system while the call is in progress, such as the time/date of the call and agent handling it. Agents can also add manual notes directly into the CRM or accounting program.
Coordinated voice/data transfer If a call needs to be transferred from one member of your team to another, this function allows all onscreen customer information (e.g., screen pops) to be transferred when the line is reassigned.
3CLogic and Zoho CRM integration showing the “click-to-dial” function
3CLogic and Zoho CRM integration showing the “click-to-dial” function

 

CTI Benefits

Here are some benefits that explain how CTI can empower call center agents and companies to have more productive customer interactions:

Top Benefits of CTI Software

Top Benefits of CTI Software

 

CTI Implementation Options

CTI can be implemented in one of two ways:

  • As a best-of-breed application
  • As part of a call center suite that has CTI capabilities built in, in addition to other applications (e.g., automatic call distribution or workforce scheduling)

It’s important to note that best-of-breed CTI software is a relatively niche offering. It could be a good option for companies with older phone systems who aren’t ready to buy a new one just yet, but still want to reap the benefits of CTI sooner rather than later.

The vast majority of buyers are better off with the second option: You’ll need an established phone system for calls to be able to work on your computers at all. It’s easier to implement a phone system that supports CTI from the start, rather than trying to retrofit or replace it later on.

Also worth noting: Some of the more basic CTI capabilities (e.g., click-to-dial and even screen pops, in some cases) can be achieved with a PBX system as an alternative to using CTI with a call center system.

Integration Considerations

Once you’ve decided on an implementation model, you can evaluate vendors. As we’ve explained, CTI is intended to be used with computer programs that call centers are already using, such as existing CRM or accounting systems. It’s important to ensure that any CTI vendor on your shortlist can interface with this existing software. You can usually find this information listed on vendors’ websites.