Using CTI with Serio

This is a follow-on post on the subject of CTI in Serio (whilst the earlier CTI posts look at CTI more generally).

Serio CTI depends upon the capabilities of your telephony system (the ‘switch’) completely. It relies on your switch for data about incoming calls – not just Caller Line Identity (CLI) but for information about when events (like incoming call or hang-up) are happening, and getting this information in good time (remember, caller waiting!). Serio CTI relies on your switch for making calls, and for data on the progress of those calls.

So how does all this work? Well it’s all done with something called TAPI. TAPI is short for Telephony Application Programming Interface, an API (a set of function libraries and tools) for connecting a PC running Windows to telephone services. TAPI was introduced in 1993 as the result of joint development by Microsoft and Intel. TAPI supports connections by individual computers as well as LAN connections serving many computers.

TAPI functionality on your switch is what you need in order to work with Serio. Serio supports TAPI versions 2.1 and 3.0. In particular, you need a Telephony Service Provider (TSP). Telephony hardware manufacturers typically provide the TSPs - Serio do not provide these. With some telephony devices there are one or more additional software layers between the TSP and the hardware's native functionality. These are usually referred to as drivers and are installed as part of the hardware/software installation process.

One of the guidelines I have for this blog is this: avoid the use of jargon, acronyms, buzz words and anything else that detracts from the objective of this blog: to help people in practical ways with IT Service Management. However, re-reading when I’ve written here I’ve introduced TAPI, API and TSP and you may be thinking ‘that sounds tough’. Generally, you are looking to your telephony hardware provider to give you these tools and help you set them up – hopefully their packages are quick to install and configure (frankly though, this is not always the case).

It’s not just software you need also. With CTI, I think you only get the most when your Agents (those dealing with customers) have the right hardware – and that means headsets that work with the TSP. So that if they make an outbound call, Serio can simply connect them to the speaker at the right moment. Similarly for inbound calls we can simply connect without the Agent having to handle the receiver. I use a headset and would recommend them strongly for anyone using a computer whilst dealing with customers.

More info: see the CTI Roadmap in the HowTo Guide, part of the documentation distributed with the product.