A woman call center agent is smiling as she talks to a customer over the phone. She is wearing a headset and is typing notes on a desktop computer.
Most VoIP systems offer prebuilt integrations with a number of programs. However, the integrations and process vary by vendor, so be sure to ask when evaluating phone systems. — Getty Images/DMP

Connecting your Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone system to third-party applications enriches customer and employee experiences. It simplifies workflows by reducing app switching while tracking all interactions.

The integration process varies by vendor, with some providing native connections available via one or two clicks. Others require the use of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Let's explore the most common small business VoIP integrations, how well-known phone systems enable them, and what your teams can accomplish with integrated tools.

Typical VoIP phone integrations

Most small business phone systems offer prebuilt integrations with email programs and contact databases. The options may vary based on the subscription tier. In cases where the software doesn't connect natively, you may be able to use Zapier, which is a third-party app connector tool. Otherwise, vendors may provide APIs.

Here are a few standard integrations:

[Read more: 5 Efficient Technology Platforms Your Business Should Leverage]

How business phones work with other tools

Integrations can sync one way or bidirectionally. The latter is best when possible because it keeps both databases updated. For instance, companies can integrate their VoIP phone service with Outlook. Employees can update contacts in Outlook or the phone system, and it automatically updates in the other platform.

At a basic level, integrated tools let users click to dial from third-party software. If a meeting notification appears on their screen, they can click to start a video or audio conference. Likewise, if an agent needs to follow up on a help desk ticket, they can initiate the call without leaving the help desk platform.

Screen pops are another key function. Employees can view a detailed contact history before making or receiving a call. You can customize this screen according to your industry or the employee's role.

Think about integration capabilities and desired functionalities when choosing a business phone system. Do you want to start calls or video meetings from specific apps? Or do you need to log calls automatically in your CRM?

Benefits of business phone integrations

Connected technology platforms streamline workflows and reduce data silos. For instance, click-to-call buttons in CRM software or ticketing tools are easier to use than switching applications and transferring customers to another platform. With data-sharing capabilities, employees can see customer interactions across all channels, including email, text, and voice.

VoIP phone integration benefits include the following:

  • Better data insights: See call metrics with context from your CRM or help desk software to understand why customers contact your business and identify recurring problems or potential upselling opportunities.
  • Improved customer experiences: Give every team member role-appropriate permissions to view client data before and during calls. Personalized greetings and seamless call transfers provide consistent, high-quality experiences.
  • Increased productivity: Reduce manual data entry and app switching with business automation features and integrated workflows. Employees can call by clicking a number in an email, calendar event, or in the CRM.

How to configure VoIP integrations

Review documentation from the VoIP provider and third-party apps. Occasionally, the vendors will offer additional tips or information regarding the process and features.

For native connections, you can often log into your VoIP account and go to the app marketplace. Some tools will have one-click installs. Simply enter your credentials and verify access.

Alternatively, you may use API credentials, like an authentication token or API key. You'll enter these in the third-party software in the admin panel or integration settings.

After establishing the integration, it's time to customize and verify them. Confirm that you can call out from the third-party software and that it logs calls correctly. Review call records and automations for both systems to ensure functionalities work as expected.

[Read more: How to Choose a Third-Party IT Provider Specializing in Small Business]

Vendor-specific VoIP phone integrations

Think about integration capabilities and desired functionalities when choosing a business phone system. Do you want to start calls or video meetings from specific apps? Or do you need to log calls automatically in your CRM? Product demonstrations are a great time to ask about integrating services.

VoIP phone service providers offer the following integration options:

  • Mitel: Toggle Mitel’s MiCollab on to enable telephony in Microsoft Teams or view a co-worker's phone status from Outlook. Mitel offers user-friendly APIs and third-party integration tools.
  • Ooma: Connect Ooma Office Pro Plus to your CRM to start calls from Freshdesk, Salesforce, Zoho, or Microsoft Dynamics 365. Employees can preview customer information and create automated call records in the CRM.
  • RingCentral: With a large ecosystem of apps and over 500 APIs, RingCentral connects to many business tools. Its open APIs allow developers to build fully functional apps, resulting in full-featured integrations. RingCentral also offers software development kits and widgets.
  • Vonage: Explore customizable, no-code integrations for call notes, click to dial, and SMS logging. Vonage integrations offer advanced tools for real-time logging and contact management.

Don't forget user training and feedback

An integration isn’t complete without factoring in the human aspect. Connecting two or more systems creates new or different features. Guide employees on how to use the tools effectively, including best practices and tips.

Remember to ask your team for feedback. Some business phone systems and third-party tools support customization. You may be able to adjust settings or automations to fit different workflows.

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