Computer Telephony Integration System

Many companies are choosing computer telephony solutions to provide cutting edge technology for their communications systems. These structures basically mean that a computer can perform such functions as answering phones, identify incoming calls, route calls, play messages that have been recorded, and automatically pull up a customer's account information. By simplifying office communications, a computer telephony integration system can increase productivity as well as business efficiency. There are a wide variety of corporations and organizations that can benefit from this technology including customer service centers, order processing centers, or businesses that process reservations. Good communication is very important for any growing business. The Bible talks about the many blessings of communion with God Himself. "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." (John 14:23)

Boiled down in the simplest terms, computer telephony solutions entail running a telephone system through a PC and allowing computerized programs to handle basic call functions. Through the use of a computer telephony integration system, or CTI, routing calls can become automated and the computerized system can send phone calls out to the correct recipient without the need of a staff member to physically direct the calls. Call centers that direct calls to various customer service personnel can do so more efficiently through these applications. An automated and computerized system will evenly distribute the calls, or stage them in a queue until a representative is available. But beyond these basic functions, a CTI can also pull up a caller ID, look up the customer's records and pull this information up on an agent's computer screen. The system can connect to the customer's records by using their phone number to identify them. A CTI can even direct an incoming call to the most appropriate service agent. For example, if a representative has a great deal of experience or expertise in an area that would be beneficial to the customer, the call is automatically directed to that agent.

In most general terms, there are two types of the computer telephony integration system, first party call control and third party call control. In a first party call control situation, there is a direct link between the users computer and the telephone itself. Using this set up, the only computer that can reap the CTI benefits is the one that is connected directly to the telephone. A third party control center involves a telephone system that is connected to a separate device and allows more PCs to interface with the system. Some of the functions that are commonly incorporated in CTI are call information display that includes both the number of the party that is making the incoming call as well as the number that is being dialed on an outgoing call. Automatic dialing and predictive dialing are two other features. Another helpful tool is the ability to synchronize data transfers and phone transfers between two separate parties. Some systems can handle phone and web needs in addition to e-mail requests. Individual businesses can generally choose the services that best meet their needs. These features can help a customer contact center function more efficiently and increase customer approval. A major benefit of computer telephony solutions is that it can unify all the different means of customer contact such as e-mail, telephone contact, voice mail, fax and web contact into one integrated system.

Today's computer telephony solutions began in the mid 1980's. A major breakthrough was the development of screen population technology. Screen population, also known as screen pop, basically means that information about a caller is programmed to appear on a call agent's computer screen as that call comes through. This technology can apply to both incoming and outgoing calls. Standard caller ID that is used in home telephone systems are a simple example of this technology. The benefits of having this information appear instantly are that business can be conducted in a quick and efficient manner. Another benefit of this technology is voice broadcasting. Voice broadcasting involves sending out a pre recorded message to more than one recipient at the same time. This technology can send out phone calls in the thousands and has many applications including getting the word out in the event of an emergency. Other features of a computer telephony integration system could include automatic call distribution, automatic call back functions, call forwarding, call waiting, interactive voice response, location based routing, text to speech functions, and automated wake up call, all accomplished in conjunction with the user's PC.

When this technology is used as part of a telemarketing concern, a feature called predictive dialing can be very useful. With predictive dialing, a server can quickly dial an entire list of phone numbers. If one of those calls reaches a live recipient rather than an answering machine or not answered at all, that call is automatically sent to a ready service agent. Calls that go unanswered or are picked up by an answering machine are not routed to an agent. This feature can save time and increase productivity and efficiency. If a business owner is interested in setting up a telephone conference, computer telephony solutions can make this possible as well. Interest in this technology has expanded beyond the obvious call center applications to other areas of business and industry. Since many office communication methods can be brought together under the same umbrella, they can all be handled from one location if so desired.

IP Telephony Solutions

Among the standard office hardware, VoIP phone equipment is slowly but surely becoming the norm. Voice-Over-Internet Protocol telephones carry the speaker's voice over digital bandwidth frequencies, rather than the standard analog phone waves. There are numerous ways that this can be done. IP telephony solutions, or internet protocol telephone capabilities, range from the inexpensive, personal telephone to specialized office hardware. Not only are the options many, the reasons for the rise in voice-over-internet technology are also numerous. Just like the DSL internet connections steadily eclipsed the sluggish, out of date dial-up systems, so internet phone systems are making their mark on today's telephone user.

The technologically savvy have been interested in sending and receiving spoken messages over the internet since the 1970s. By the 1980s, this type of technology was available to end users. This simply was not good enough. How were we supposed to place calls using internet telephone protocol? By the early 1990s, telephone software packages allowed telephone users to send and receive internet based voice messages. The initial drawback was that these software packages did not yet have the capability to convert public switched telephone network, or PSTN, calls into digital data. This limited owners of VoIP phone equipment to only talking to each other. However, the late 1990s brought the growth of the ip telephony solutions industry. These researchers created a switch that could transfer a piece PSTN analog data to a digital voice receiver. Now there are two types of PSTN to Internet Protocol converters. DID, or direct inward dialing, allows the PSTN caller to be directly connected to the internet telephone user. The access PSTN to Internet Protocol conversion system requires the PSTN caller to enter the internet telephone user's extension in order to be switched into the digital voice phone system.

The benefits of ip telephony solutions over the standard PSTN are numerous. Many calls can be transmitted easily over the same broadband connection. In the standard public switched phone networks, adding a phone and supporting numerous telephone calls sometimes proves expensive and difficult. Caller ID, automatic redial and conference calling, because of the speed and efficiency of broadband technology, are cheap or free using VoIP phone equipment. Security is also enhanced using internet protocol telephone systems. Typically, in order to secure a standard telephone line requires digitizing the voice data. Since this is already done over the broadband connection, only encryption is necessary to secure a voice-over-internet protocol connection. The mobility of this type technology is staggering. As long as a user has a stable broadband connection, they are able to make multiple, clear telephone calls.

Though, VoIP telephony solutions are not without its challenges. Because the data travels through bandwidth, it is often difficult to traverse firewalls or other network protection devices. Finding available and reliable bandwidth may prove difficult in some areas even though they have functioning PSTN telephone lines. Just like visual and audio media over the internet, voice data over the internet can be subject to delay. Differences in the delay time can produce a jitter effect. Jittering can be helped by storing the voice data in a jitter buffer. Though, a jitter buffer will increase the overall delay. Using a jitter buffer avoids buffer overrun. Buffer overrun happens when the buffer is emptied before new audio packet has come in. Internet protocol telephone equipment is also susceptible to echoing and losing audio packets due to internet congestion and poor PSTN to Internet Protocol conversion. Because this technology sends audio information over the internet, it travels as voice and data input. As such, it can get clogged amid the data packets currently on the broadband connection. A standard telephone system is free from this concern. However, researchers are working diligently to effectively address these concerns, as well as how to allow the telephones to work better over satellite internet systems.

Looking at VoIP phone equipment, the viewer would have little indication that the system is any different than the PSTN analog systems of old. Internet protocol telephones still have a microphone and ear piece, a keypad for dialing, a display (which is now common in analog telephones as well), processing equipment and a power source (such as a battery plug in). The only visible difference is that the processing hardware plugs into an internet router. If it does not, it may have an internal Ethernet card, which would not be visible just by looking at the telephone. Another piece of hardware that might be present is an analog conversion box. This piece of telephone hardware plugs into the internet and also receives PSTN analog calls. An analog conversion box is a rectangular piece of equipment that then converts the analog signal to a digital data packet to be received by the VoIP phone equipment. These types of converter boxes are typically purchased by individuals or companies that still house both types of telephones and want to receive calls on both.

Some of the differences internally are that ip telephony solutions almost always offer dialing using name or ID. This is a bit different from the standard mobile phone feature, as an internet protocol telephone does not require you to save the ID or name in an SIP list. "Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak, and answer thou me." (Job 13:22) Many internet protocol systems offer local and network directories as well as the weather, school attendance, live news reports and other information available on the internet.





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