CRM Integration: how to streamline business activities without breaking the bank

We keep hearing about streamlining a business’ processes, and consulting companies start their pitch by promising just that. While putting order in your activities and training your employees is effective, technology innovations seem to do much of the job and save businesses important amounts of money and time.  We’re talking here about Computer Telephony Integration (CTI), specifically CRM Integration. But what is CRM Integration and what are the real benefits of it?

How does CRM Integration work?

CRM Integration basically means “linking” a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM system) or other similar business systems or databases with a business phone system (usually a Hosted PBX).

By integrating a CRM system with a Hosted PBX, everything that happens in the office phone system, such as call logs and call recordings, gets sent and stored in the CRM system. The integration is done via API, which is a set of processes and software components which allows sharing the information from the current platform with another application.

Depending on the systems to be integrated, here are a few examples of automation:

  1. Pop-up windows in the CRM system that show the account of the caller by matching its Caller ID with the phone number stored in the database, or offer the possibility to create new entries of Contacts, Accounts or Leads if the Caller ID doesn’t match an existing entry
  2. Automatically log incoming, outgoing and missed calls on the customer’s account
  3. Access the call recordings right from the CRM call log history
  4. Call customers by just clicking on their phone number in the CRM system
  5. Expand integration by linking it also to Outlook or Thunderbird email clients, to automatically archive emails and synchronize tasks, calls and meetings

Why does a business need CRM & Hosted PBX Integration?

Human workforce can be a business’ best asset, but also its weakness; integrating two of the core business systems will increase the efficiency, speed and accuracy of existing employees, avoiding also additional expenses with new employees thanks to the elimination of manual work.

An integrated CRM system enables you to get accurate reports on incoming and outgoing calls, generating correct forecasting of a business’ needs to support its customers, while also helping to evaluate employees using complete reports on calls made/ received, emails, tasks, projects, leads generated, etc.  It also increases customer satisfaction by eliminating the time spent to identify the caller’s account, which is extremely helpful for companies having an increased volume of incoming calls.

Tips and aspects to consider

Whether you choose to perform the integration in-house or have one of the two providers do it for you, you will need to ensure that both the CRM system and the Hosted PBX have API capabilities. Every good CRM out there has an API available, so make sure you choose one that allows API interconnection; the same applies to your Hosted PBX provider.

Consider buying an already integrated CRM & Hosted PBX system that will save you the hassle of hiring developers. One other big advantage of such a solution is that you no longer need to worry about hosting and maintaining your CRM system.

Open source CRM systems are more flexible and don’t have as many restrictions as the off-the shelf ones. If you want to go with a truly customized solution, choose an open source CRM system. Some of the best out there are Sugar CRM, SuiteCRM and vTiger CRM.

Whatever your choice in terms of CRM system or Hosted PBX, automating as much as possible of your activity is will result is remarkable improvement of your business processes and financial savings.