This is a continuation of my last blog Telephony in IT Service Management.
Whilst my last blog entry looked at statistics, this blog entry will look at how Computer-Telephony Integration (CTI) can be used to make the job of the Helpdesk or Service Desk easier by discussing some of the common applications.
I’ll start with computer dialling. This is where you have a button on your ITSM tool that says ‘Dial’. You click it and the ITSM tool takes the number from the customer database and dials the customer for you, connecting you on answer. You may be thinking ‘so what?’ but I’ll say this – it is a really good time saver, and something you can very quickly get used to.
Another application is commonly referred to as ‘screen popping’. Whilst computer dialling is concerned with outbound traffic, screen popping addresses inbound traffic. What happens is this: when a customers calls you, the ITSM tool detects who is calling and then ‘pops’ a screen the tells you information about the caller, such as their name, which company they work for, and ideally shows you their recent Incident history – so they can be greeted with ‘good morning Mr Smith – how can I help you?’.
Screen popping works using a piece of data called CLI (Caller Line Identity). This is where someone calling a number makes their number visible. If you have used a mobile phone and observed the caller’s number being shown on the LCD display of your phone, then you’ve seen CLI in action.
What typically happens is this: your telephone system detects the incoming call, obtains the CLI data, and then passes this to your ITSM tool which scans its own database and identifies the caller – and this allows the ‘screen pop’ to take place with the right data.
If you deal with internal customers only then obtaining CLI information is usually unproblematic. If you deal with external customers, then CLI might not be available to you – some companies ‘hide’ their number when making outbound calls (though this unwelcome practice seems to be less common today than a few years ago). Another problem might be a large company applying the same CLI data to all outbound lines from their company, making it impossible for you to tell the actual individual calling.
If you are a Serio customer, you might be asking what Serio can do with CTI. The answer is that both outbound calling and screen popping are supported, but dependent upon your phone system having the right hardware and software capabilities. I’ll post later about what you need for CTI in terms of system requirements.