Does “Off-The-Shelf” Contact Center Integration Really Work?

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Though fairly complex, contact center integration is an essential component for any organization or business looking to run an efficient, seamless, and responsive contact center. Oftentimes, contact center providers will advertise “off-the-shelf” integration technology as an easy solution, offering pre-built integrations for common customer relationship management (CRM) tools and other types of software. 

While these integrations can certainly work, they may require a lot of research and testing before behaving as expected. For this reason, contact center operators should be wary of so-called “plug-and-play” contact center integrations, as the integration process is complicated and requires the right technology and steps to be done correctly. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort to find the right one. Plus, by familiarizing yourself with the various solutions that are available today—and by understanding what makes call center integration difficult in the first place—you’ll be able to choose one with ease. 

Why is Contact Center Integration Such a Challenge?

Contact center integration can be difficult for a number of reasons. 

First of all, since CRMs are typically designed for general use, it takes time and technological prowess to tailor them to the specific needs of your contact center. This is especially true when it comes to integrations, as taking a CRM that you’ve customized for your specific business and directly connecting it to another vendor’s contact center solution can be complex and time-consuming. 

For many contact centers, common integration challenges include:

  • Incorporating multiple communication channels successfully
  • Managing multiple API (Application Programming Interface) tools
  • Syncing siloed data and software
  • Tracking metrics across multiple platforms
  • Ensuring a seamless customer journey and positive customer experience

Even for tech-savvy contact centers with agile staff and cutting-edge technology, the combination of multiple integration challenges can be a tough nut to crack. 

The Good News About Pre-Built Contact Center Integrations

Although the solutions that are advertised as “off-the-shelf” don’t usually work so well, there are still many advantages to partnering with a contact center solution that has a pre-built integration with your CRM.

A pre-built integration typically includes connectivity between the CRM itself and a selection of third-party applications used by your contact center, such as the following:

  • Email automation systems like Mailchimp and Constant Contact
  • Social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram
  • Messaging channels like SMS and online chat
  • Inbound and outbound VoIP phone services
  • IVA (interactive virtual assistant) and IVR (interactive voice response) self-services

For example, a contact center with a full Salesforce integration would see all of Salesforce’s CRM functions synced up with contact center agents without the need for extensive custom development. This would give them seamless access to all customer communications and other key information in a centralized hub that requires minimal upkeep and/or technical knowledge to operate effectively. 

Altogether, there are many benefits to using a pre-built integration, some of which include:

  • Vendor familiarity with your current CRM
  • Reliability because most technical issues have already been resolved
  • Less stress on an IT team
  • Rapid and agile scalability
  • Improved customer service
  • Seamless communications across different channels
  • Better data accuracy and analysis 
  • Greater efficiency for contact center agents
  • No need for time-consuming and expensive customization 

For all of these reasons and more, a pre-built contact center integration can make sense for systems that don’t face many challenges with initial setup and compatibility. However, it’s important to remember to choose an integration that works for your specific contact center—and that’s not always easy to figure out. 

How To Pick the Right Contact Center Integration

A good rule of thumb is to start by doing research on your options, choose at least five of them, and then demo each of them thoroughly. Of course, this is potentially very time-consuming, but it’s always better to see them in action before moving ahead with a solution that may not actually work for your contact center.

The truth is, the differences between the various solutions can be very subtle—which is why it can be hard to choose. One option may be a few seconds faster than the others, and another one can have some features to make compliance a whole lot easier. Nevertheless, these seemingly small differences can end up making a huge difference depending on individual business needs—and that’s especially true for high-volume contact centers where minor inefficiencies and speed bumps can add up to thousands of hours lost per year. 

This is why it can’t be stressed enough to run live demos of your options. By seeing them live, experiencing their specific advantages, and confirming that they are compatible, you’ll be better prepared to select the right one on the first try. Otherwise, you might be stuck fumbling around with an “off-the-shelf” option that you’ll end up needing to replace. 

Choose the Right Contact Center Integrations for Success

Contact center integration can be challenging, but the good news is that there are options available that work well if you’re willing to do the legwork ahead of time. By researching your options and weighing the pros and cons of each, you’ll be able to choose a solution that can increase your call center efficiency and provide a superior customer service experience.

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