Work smarter: Integrate Salesforce with your phone system

Your sales and customer service staff spend most of their time in Salesforce or another customer-relationship management (CRM) application and on the phone. So why not combine the two, and get more bang for your buck? Like peanut butter and chocolate, unified communications (UC) and CRM are better together. Integrating CRM with your ShoreTel business phone system puts the information your sales and service team needs—right at their fingertips.

That’s what Monumental Sports did. The Washington D.C.-based company, owner of the Verizon Center and an NBA, NHL and WNBA team, uses Salesforce and its ShoreTel phone system to keep fans, teams and staff connected.

“We have about 220 events a year—that’s 220 nights when we have anywhere from 500 to 20,000 people in our building,” says Gordon Armstrong, senior director of IT at Monumental Sports. “Thanks to ShoreTel, our staff can keep in touch with each other as well as the fans who come to our events.”

Like Monumental Sports, by integrating ShoreTel UC capabilities into your CRM application, your staff can streamline communications and save time by working in a single application while they work with customers, rather than jumping among several applications. Agents can start a phone call right from within Salesforce, which eliminates tedious dialing and allows agents to spend their time more productively.

When your phone system and CRM works together, your business works smarter. Synergis Technologies, an Autodesk solutions provider, has had that experience. “ShoreTel Sky Contact Center is a huge improvement in our ability to provide outstanding customer service,” says Frank Lavin, senior technical advisor for information systems at Synergis. Its salespeople are more prepared and productive now that they’re using ShoreTel Sky Connect for Salesforce. They can see customer account details and call history before picking up the phone.

Like Synergis, you can take advantage of advanced call routing so that incoming calls can be routed directly to an agent who is available and has the right knowledge to help the customer. Customer criteria such as account relationship, subject matter or the customer’s open issue can be used to direct calls to the right sales or support person. That makes your staff more efficient and helps them resolve issues more quickly. And agents can make calls, transfer and conference in supervisors or subject matter experts.

Your salespeople, service teams and staff can automatically view the relevant information about a customer or prospect when he or she calls. Salesforce can pop up the caller’s contact information so your staff can see recent activity with this customer and their service level. With this information at the ready, agents are better prepared to assist the customer without having to collect background information. Customers don’t have to repeat themselves and agents are more productive.

Integrating UC into your CRM system can also improve record-keeping, since voicemails, call recordings and surveys can be stored with the case record. That creates a more complete record of the customer’s history for compliance and measuring satisfaction.

Integration in the Cloud or On-Premises

Whether you prefer to deploy your business phone system on-premises or in the cloud, ShoreTel makes it easy to integrate with Salesforce and other CRM applications. The ShoreTel Salesforce Call Center Adapter allows Salesforce users to dial and answer calls from within the Salesforce application. They can click on an icon to dial and answer calls from the desktop, put callers on hold, initiate conference calls or transfer calls. Users can personalize settings to automate login and customize how records are opened and how fields appear on the screen based on their preference.

For ShoreTel Sky customers, integration means workers can start a call from within Salesforce.com anytime a number is available. Inbound screen pops provide instant visibility of who is calling, and presence monitoring means that workers can know if a colleague is available before transferring a call. They’ll save time with call records that are automatically captured and voicemails that are transcribed into text and added to the matching Salesforce contact record. And agents can transfer an entire user workspace, along with a phone call, for a better customer experience.

Virtualization brings efficiency and flexibility to UC

Virtualization is undoubtedly one of the hottest terms in communications and technology today. But behind all the hype are some very real benefits, including several that will positively impact UC deployments.

According to Nemertes Research, almost 70 percent of companies have already implemented a virtualized infrastructure to support their UC platforms or are planning to. It’s no wonder. As organizations have moved from standalone PBXs to IP telephony and unified communications (UC), the emphasis has been primarily on lowering costs but also to increase efficiency, flexibility and scalability of their communications systems. And virtualization can help achieve these goals.

What Can Virtualization Do For You?

While virtualization has been in place for UC applications that didn’t require real-time capabilities—namely voicemail and messaging—recent technology developments now make it an ideal solution for conferencing, call center and other applications that are sensitive to delays.

Virtual servers have been deployed by businesses large and small for a number of reasons, including gaining a better use of resources. Currently, most physical servers are operating at a fraction of their capacity, which is not only very inefficient but introduces a great deal of complexity as companies deploy many more servers than they actually need. Virtualization reins in this sprawl and helps to maximize existing resources.

In addition to gaining better server utilization, virtualization also allows companies to mix and match both virtual servers and traditional hardware on the same network. This flexibility allows enterprises to decide at what pace to virtualize and in what sequence.

For companies looking to the cloud, virtualization is a great jumping off point. Once functions are virtualized and not reliant on physical servers, going to the cloud is an easy next step.

Virtualization with ShoreTel

ShoreTel 14.2 brings all of the advantages of UC virtualization in one package to give businesses the flexibility they’re asking for regardless of business size. Whether organizations prefer a virtual, physical or combination deployment, they will reap instant benefits, such as increased scalability and reliability, higher application availability and decreased hardware and operational complexity.

This is achieved through the ability to virtualize all UC components, including call control, SIP trunks and collaborative applications, onto industry standard servers. This creates an attractive solution for small and medium businesses but can also be scaled to support up to 1,000 phones and 500 SIP trunks for large enterprises that need the increased capacity.

And by using standard virtual servers, companies are able to consolidate their hardware across UC applications as well as conserve on their energy consumption.

UC Makes the Virtual Leap

Virtualization may be the buzzword of the day, but it comes with very real and tangible ways to cut costs, maximize resources and simplify the entire UC network.

Companies that choose the virtual path are set to travel on the road to a UC deployment that grows with them and gives them options as their needs change in the future.