Redefining Customer Service


The now mature era of smartphone ubiquity has caused customers to self-identify much more frequently, allowing computer telephony integration (CTI), to produce a magical “wow” experience for the customer. Like most magic, there is a behind-the-scenes dynamic responsible for driving the experience. Brands using CTI will get ahead of brands not leveraging it, and here’s why.

Cell phones have become much more than a means to text, make phone calls, or deploy apps. Our cell phones have become our identity. By virtue of including a cell-phone number as part of an account registration, customers are enabling the association of a unique phone number with an individual. In the past, land lines could be associated with a household, but never an individual.

The other fortuitous customer behavior advancement for CTI is the fact that cellphones have become the voice channel of choice. If you have a land-line in your home, you are now in the minority. Most calls today are made via the same mobile phone used to establish an account. The vastly increased stability and utility of mobile phone use in almost any environment is an important distinction that has not received the focus it deserves, especially in terms of the positive impact on automatic call distribution (ACD) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems leveraging CTI. 

Here’s how it works. A customer calls an 800 number, and via dialed number identification service (DNIS) and automatic number identification (ANI) the customer is routed to the first available agent within a select group of a larger service team. 

That’s where the magic starts. When the customer’s ANI matches a registered phone number within the CRM, a CTI enabled ACD delivers a “screen pop” (along with the call) to the service agent. This screen pop can include the customer’s name, the most recent order, and any other actionable data within the CRM. The improved customer experience will drive tangible benefits, and differentiate one brand from another. All things being equal, deployment of CTI will lift an organization’s net promotor score, which means more customer advocates, which drives sales. 

CTI allows retailers to provide preferential service to the highest customer lifetime value individuals. As the Wall Street Journal reports in its “On Hold for 45 Minutes? It Might Be Your Secret Customer Score,” Customer lifetime value is being leveraged to prioritize customer service, and CTI is what makes that possible in a proactive mode. In addition, the sales and service staff love it, and staff retention rates go up.

Dynamically integrated ACD and CRM systems are not new. Indeed they have been around for decades, but the ease with which these now mostly SaaS systems can be deployed is novel. 

In business, the desire to achieve a 1+1=3 outcome is hyperbole 99% of the time. But there are times when technology provides an added functional value beyond the normal. When an ACD system is married to a CRM database via CTI, the outcome can be dynamic. What is surprising is how few retail organizations leverage CTI within their customer service and sales centers, or within their stores.   




John Jordan is the former chief customer officer at Total Wine & More, and the founder of Vanquish Ventures. [email protected]

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds