Computer telephony integration (CTI) in a nutshell

Your computer + your telephone system — together as one. That should make life easier. That’s what a computer telephony integration does.


The use of computers to manage telephone calls.

That is the simplest definition for computer telephony integration you will find on the internet.

A Computer Telephony Integration system acts as a bridge between a computer and your internet telephony system. It makes it possible for the telephone system to interact with your computer and vise versa. As a result, there is better work efficiency and productivity in call center operations.

CTI systems are predominantly used in business communications where a huge number of inbound calls and outbound calls are handled on a regular basis. They help orchestrate telephony operations for customer interactions in a certain fashion so as to deliver a great customer experience. Also, when call volumes are high, which is often the case, there is a need to automate call flows to avoid the over-working of call center agents. A CTI system helps with all of this.

In addition to handling incoming calls, CTI technology can also be used extensively for outbound calling. For example, a sales rep on the road can connect to a CTI system using their laptop or a mobile app.

How does Computer Telephony Integration technology work?

Computer Telephony Integration works with the help of VoIP technology. VoIP is a voice data transmission protocol that uses the internet as the data communication medium.

Here is how CTI works. When a customer calls your office number, it will get directed through a computer telephony system (Freshdesk Contact Center is one such CTI system). The call will then get routed to the phone number or an IVRS (Interactive voice response system) menu. In case, if there are more call flows set up, the call will be routed accordingly.

Who uses Computer Telephony Integration?

A CTI software is primarily used by businesses in their contact center where there are large volumes of phone calls to handle on a regular basis. Within a business, it is usually the call center and sales teams that use it. While call centers use it for handling incoming calls related to customer support, sales teams use it for cold calling to prospects. The use cases for both scenarios differ widely. Similarly, a CTI could also be used by a business as a replacement for its on-premise business phone system used for inter-organization communication.

CTI Vs on-premise phone systems: The differentiators

A computer telephony integration software is considered to be the best replacement for an on-premise phone system.

An on-premise phone system suffers from a variety of disadvantages that not only slow down the business but also hurts its productivity on an everyday basis.

The following disadvantages of an on-premise phone system make it evident:

  • They are difficult to set up, often requiring a team of telephony hardware experts and a minimum of a week (sometimes even months) to set up the system
  • They are rigid in nature, meaning adding a phone number, tweaking a call flow, or even shifting the system to another place can prove to be a tedious process
  • They are prone to abrupt breakdowns caused due to cable issues, PSTN connectivity issues, telephony hardware failure, etc. In fact, a natural calamity can bring an on-premise system to a complete standstill. It will take an unusually long time to get it back on its feet.

Commonly applications of CTI telephony software

Compared to an on-premise phone system, a CTI software offers a host of applications that simplifies everyday customer interactions.

Call routing

A clout telephony software allows you to set up strategic call flows to suit your customer need and your resource availability. You can set up automated call routing based on time, skills, or even location. If your call center functions on specific working hours and is offline during the rest of the house, you can route calls that come after your working hours to an IVR or a voicemail. Similarly, you can route calls originating from a specific country to agents who can speak the language.

Call transfers

A CTI allows an agent to transfer calls to other agents or teams with more context enabling them to handle customer needs with more efficiency. A CTI system usually has an interface that resembles a telephony interface along with options for taking notes or attaching labels or even talking to the transferee agent before the call is transferred. This is referred to as warm transfers in call center terminology.

For example, during the call, if the agent had taken notes about the customer, their order details, or a written summary of their requirement, they can easily pass it on to the next agent or an expert who is going to take the call forward. This spares the next agent from having to request the caller information repetitively. The context during call transfer enables the agent to solve the query faster and efficiently.

Virtual phone numbers

Imagine the convenience of buying phone numbers anywhere in the world. That is one huge benefit that CTI offers to businesses. You can have your business in Amsterdam and establish a local presence in America with a US local phone number. There is no need to have a physical office or even a landline phone in the USA. in other words, CTI lets your business expand its telephony presence globally from wherever you are located with the help of virtual phone numbers.

Call masking

As much as it supports inbound calls, CTI also supports outbound calling as well. CTI offers Call masking with which callers can mask the numbers from which they are calling. It can be made to appear as if the call is originating from a known or recognized phone number.

This is typically applicable in sales scenarios where a sales rep has to call a prospect from his/her extension but wants the call to be appearing as if it is dialed from the company’s phone number. Call masking makes that possible.

Call forwarding

CTI makes it possible for for your phone system to become capable of advanced call forwarding capabilities. Call forwarding ensures that the inbound call is routed to the right agent who has the expertise and the know-how to help the caller solve their problems.

Call monitoring

CTI systems allow call center supervisors to monitor live calls that agents are attending as and when they are happening. Based on their observations, they can give first-hand feedback to agents thus improving their overall performance. Call monitoring can also be used by supervisors to identify call instances during which they have to interfere to avoid further issue escalations.

Call recording

In certain parts of the world and also in specific industries like BFSI, there are statutes that mandate businesses to record their customer interactions over the phone. Call recording helps comply with such mandates. Also, the recordings can also be further used for training and performance improvement initiatives.

Benefits of using a CTI for telephony operations

So far you have seen some (and not all) of the features that a Computer telephony integration can provide. Now, how do these features translate into benefits:

Here’s how:

Improved operational efficiency

Businesses struggle with improving their operational efficiency. Operational efficiency can be summarized as the swiftness, easiness, and productivity with which a critical business function is carried out.

A CTI telephony integration, they will be able to make use o call routing, call transfers, conferencing and a host of other telephony features that will make the business function better. There will be better communication and collaboration between teams which will result in a direct improvement of operational efficiency.

Performance monitoring

A CTI is akin to computer software. It can showcase the performance of your telephony operations with dashboards that capture real-time and historical information in vivid detail. For a call center manager or for a sales manager, this can help place a finger on key metrics that should be tracking periodically. The metrics will also pave the way to better decision-making as managers can easily see if the metrics are matching the OKRs.

Cost savings

Like with any other technological innovation, the obvious benefit of CTI is cost savings. However, in this case, the cost savings are real and tangible. To begin with, you can do away with all telephony hardware. No need for dedicated desk phones, cables to connect them, PBX hardware, and allied accessories to keep them safe and running. Your laptop, smartphone, or even a tablet device that connects to the internet can be used as your phone system. That results in direct, visible, and measurable cost savings.

Integrations: Extending the capabilities of a CTI software

A CTI on its own can act as a pillar that supports the telephony operations of a business.


A CTI system allows your phone system to be integrated with your helpdesk software. This creates a real-time connection between the customer service calls you get and the support tickets raised in the helpdesk software. In other words, your entire phone support details in one place for easy access, perusal, and action. Needless to say, it will help deliver better customer satisfaction that is way better than a siloed helpdesk system.

CRM (Customer relationship management)

In an outbound calling function, especially for sales and telemarketing, sales reps need powerful features that will cut down the time taken for reaching out to prospects. This includes features like contact upload, click to call, jotting down call notes while on call, call conferencing, etc. With a CTI you can avail all of these benefits within the Customer relationship management tool in a better fashion than with an on-premise phone system. What more, you do not have to be chained to your office desk. You can connect from anywhere, remotely, and collaborate with a remote sales team or a prospect.


If you are a large scale organization whose IT infrastructure is taken care of by a dedicated ITSM team, you will need your ITSM software and telephone system in sync. This will enable both system admins and users to get on a call without much ado to discuss an issue at length and come to a quick resolution. A CTI-ITSM integration helps with that.

In a nutshell

As a technology, computer telephony integration became popular and prominent in recent years. Erstwhile telephony technology that mainly constituted on-premise phone systems is inadequate to meet the communication needs of modern businesses.

Cloud has become the default choice as an IT infrastructure. It gives scalability, flexibility, and also offers functionalities that were not possible in the past. Computer telephony integration brings cloud capabilities to phone systems. They empower phone users with advanced telephony features that will improve communication and collaboration. In the process, they can also help your business deliver better customer satisfaction.

Illustrations by Mahalakshmi Anantaraman

Animation by Vinoth Krishnan

About Freshdesk Contact Center

Made keeping changing technology landscape and modern business needs in mind, Freshdesk Contact Center is a computer telephony integration that helps reimagine our everyday virtual phone system for customer support, sales, IT, and remote work. With Freshdesk Contact Center’s cloud-based architecture, it brings together the best of legacy features like IVR and advanced capabilities like automated call routing, custom call center analytics and reporting, mobile app, click-to-call, voicemail, among many other features to help you set up a state-of-the-art business call center. Freshdesk Contact Center offers phone numbers in 90+ countries, requires zero phone hardware, and is extremely easy to use.

If you want to find out more about what we do, check out our product website.