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Telephony and CRM: Chalk and cheese or BFFs?

7th Oct 2014
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Apples and oranges, chalk and cheese, telephony and CRM - it’s all completely different stuff, right? Those who work in telephony, and those who work in CRM are entirely different creatures.

Telephony specialists are usually traditionalist gurus with their head in a world of networking and hardware, and no tolerance for meddling outsiders. On the other hand, CRM experts are Cloud-based software revolutionaries, who live in a world full of possibilities, and who often grow frustrated when other parts of a business hold them back from turning their blue sky thinking into a reality. So, what would happen if we could join the two worlds together?

Well, 60% of business interactions occur through the phone, and quite often that valuable data isn’t recorded into a CRM system, so it’s no wonder that a growing number of companies are seeking to integrate telephony and CRM. But getting these two tribes to play nicely when trying to implement such a project is nearly impossible - they both deal with such different technology and issues that working together can produce more conflict than solutions.

CRM: We need voice integration as part of our system.

Telephony: That’s not feasible.

CRM: But why?

Telephony: It’s complicated. You wouldn’t understand.

Because it is so difficult to break into the complex telephony network layer, developing the capability to make voice a part of CRM can cause disruption to existing systems that have large amounts of capital investment, and are nothing short of vital to daily business operations. Ideally, telephony should not work like this at all, but work more like email - in the Cloud. The right technology can effectively bridge the gap between worlds by using an over the top solution that fits directly over the complicated and disparate networks and applications.

Marrying administrators

Although there may seem to be little in common between the dusty wires and switches of a traditional PBX platform, and the glossy UX of many modern CRM systems, uniting the two is not as difficult as many would assume. No longer do telephony and CRM leaders need to clash, and the only people who need to worry about marrying the two are the CRM administrators.

This technology completely changes the customer experience capability for business. Having an important customer call and being automatically addressed by name and then routed straight to the relevant account manager, is no longer a distant dream of the future, but actually  easy to achieve. A telephony system can now query the CRM system as soon as it detects an incoming call, pulling out all relative and important information about that call and its participants - it can then tell a sales rep how close they are to closing a deal with a client before connecting the call, or it can automatically divert unimportant calls to voicemail during busy working hours.

Not only does this mean an improved experience for the customer on the phone, but it also streamlines workflows and empowers management. Having insight into how teams are using telephony can drive workforce efficiency, further improving the value of a CRM system. This puts the power of voice communications back into the hands of those who need it most – sales and customer service teams.

Having invested in CRM solutions, many companies are trying to balance the lack of data integrity issue whilst also driving sales productivity. For example, show me a sales manager or customer service team leader who really wants their staff to improve their data entry skills, and I’ll show you someone flogging a dead horse. Even the most junior of contact centre or travelling sales staff represent a significant investment in terms of training and development, and to occupy their time with entering rich data about each customer interaction is arguably a waste of time - they know this, we know this, and that’s why CRM systems are often affected by under-adoption and poor accuracy of data.

Today, there is no reason why skilled staff ought to occupy their time with the dull and wasteful task of reporting manually on their activities. Staff who feel that their time is being wasted will not be at their best when interacting with customers or prospects, nor will they have as much time available to do that in the first place. Integrating Cloud CRM and traditional telephony platforms can help tackle this issue, and modern technology means that it’s not nearly as difficult as either the telephony traditionalists or the cloud software enthusiasts might have you believe. In fact, key data from every call such as time of day, call duration, calling parties and even the call recording, if required, can be automatically populated into CRM. This applies to calls to and from mobile phones or landlines with no manual intervention, keeping sales and support staff focused on what they do best  and not tedious manual data entry.

While it might sound like quite a radical step, a SaaS implementation means CRM and telephony is quite simply a match made in heaven.

Paul Way is global head of sales and marketing at Natterbox.


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