To Form a More Perfect Integration / or An Integration by Any Other Name

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I’ve always loved language and words.  I especially love to find particularly precise and powerful words  I’ve read countless papers regarding the debate between inalienable and unalienable rights in which  some believe the founding fathers passionately engaged.  This kind of debate is fascinating to me.  I won’t attempt to recreate language theory in this post, but suffice to say that words often act as handles to concepts or objects; and everyone loves a good handle.

I love integrations.  But I hate the word, “integration.”  It can be powerful, but it’s far from precise.  So it’s not a great handle.  It’s too large and attaches to way too many things.  

In an effort to be more precise, I’d like to offer some alternative vocabulary to describe common integrations that we often run into in the contact center:

Agent Interface Integration:  Agent Interface Integration (AiinT) moves the call control interface into the main customer issue or sales handling application.  Examples of this are the salesforce.com Connect CTI Toolkit, and Rightnow Technologies’ media bar.  The end result is that the agent doesn’t have to toggle between applications, and timesaving features like auto-search and click-to-dial are built right in.  It’s a good thing.  I always say that if you can make your agents happy, they have a good chance of making your callers happy.

CRM Record Integration:  Implementing an integration where the CRM records or artifacts are created automatically based on the agent and call events is like magic beans or fairy dust for workflow compliance.  Examples of this include automatic creation of the call record or the disposition record.  Additionally I’ve helped implement systems that created the new opportunity on the backend and popped the opportunity a few seconds before the call is connected to the agent. This is one of the best investments you can make; it enables the agent to view the record a second or two before the call connects, not after.

Data Integration:  This is simply getting the data out of one system and into another.  In the contact center world there are three typical scenarios:  First, there are those that just want all their data out so they can put it into their own system; often they are consolidating data business-wide in order to get holistic reporting, so it’s typically historical data.  Second, there are situations where discreet data points are required to power some external software or expert system, usually consuming some KPI like average hold, handle time, or transfer metric.  Lastly, there are reporting and management systems that require real-time data for their proper function; like WFM or console dashboards.

I’d love any feedback, especially if you have any experience with contact center integrations.