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Why should you take CTI with Salesforce serious?

Why is it important to start Computer Telephony Integration correctly from the start?

Companies implementing Salesforce Service Cloud often ask what is the best solution to have Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) done efficiently. They want to harmonise different channels in their support organisation, but what solution is best and what happens where when you want to streamline incoming calls, e-mails, web requests, chats... in one support team?

Integrate using your current on-premise communication solution?

You may have a Communication (Telephony) platform that has an AppExchange integration with Salesforce.  So you'd say, it will be piece of cake to get incoming calls integrated with incoming e-mails, web requests, chat sessions, etc.

However, when you have an existing Communication platform, and you already use an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solution, then there's more than only installing an AppExchange component in Salesforce.  You will want to automatically recognise the caller by his/her telephony number.  And you will want to do this against Contact data in Salesforce.

In this scenario, to get an efficient CTI solution, you will spend more effort in updating the IVR application.

And, integrating with Salesforce from an on-premise Communication platform requires other considerations.


CTI with Salesforce from an on-premise communication platform


  • You will want to make efficient and performant queries over the public Internet to retrieve Contact data
  • You will want to ensure secure data communication between your Communication platform and Salesforce
  • If your Communication platform is not fully available from the Internet, you will want to get a secure setup in place before you make the integration with Salesforce

During implementation time, many companies believe that communicating with Salesforce will be no problem, in practice there are often complaints that data dips are not performing very well.  This is not only because of the 'long-distance' communication between your Communication platform and Salesforce, but - for instance - also because incoming data has to be treated.  So, it's not only about communication but also about business logic that gets implemented in the IVR application, which needs to be looked at.

Integrated CTI functionalities

The purpose of setting up Computer Telephony Integration, is to streamline different support channels that you offer to your customers.  You want to ensure that e-mails, requests via your website or chat sessions get the correct attention compared with telephone calls.

Most on-premise Communication platforms want to manage all communication channels.  So, they will want to monitor e-mail addresses of your support team, or treat incoming web requests, to make the appropriate routing to the right agent.  As such, this is perfect.  You have a platform that automatically intercepts questions coming in via different channels.  And it allows to select the best suited agent to answer the question.  But, when you want to make use of Salesforce Omnichannel functionalities, it may require a different approach.  You will want to setup the best-of-both-worlds.  You will want to make use of the strengths of both environments.

Having your Communication platform in the lead for handling incoming requests, but still wanting to provide feedback via Salesforce may be a challenge in this scenario.  The risk exists that your user use two applications to handle the incoming question:

  • Salesforce to display the Customer or Contact details
  • An interface of the Communication platform to actually reply (using e-mail as example here) the customer

The Communication platform may still create a Case, but this will happen after the facts.  Answering to your customer will not be done in Salesforce.

Fat-client or Toolbar?

Using Salesforce, incoming queries may get answered via the Service Cloud toolbar at the bottom of the screen.  This provide nice and slick functionalities for your support team.

However, referring to having 2 interfaces available, it may be even worse than what is described here above.  What if your Communication platform only has a fat-client which calls the CRM application upon each incoming communication...Well, this would open a new Salesforce browser window with each communication. 


Your existing Communication platform will most probably have an integration with Salesforce available.  But HOW does it integrate?  That is important to understand when starting a Salesforce Service Cloud implementation.  WHY it is important to understand this?  Well, I hope this has become clear from this article.

The obvious next questions is: HOW do you go on from here?  That's a topic for my next article... Or, if you want more and personal information to kick-off your Salesforce CTI project? Then read this page and register for a free 30-minute call.