Salesforce CTI SoftPhone: Learn the Lingo

June 10, 2009 Appirio

Jonathan Griggs

Implementing the Salesforce CTI SoftPhone can seem like an intimidating task. After all, you are connecting a telephone to Salesforce running in your browser. However, once you get to know the terminology you should not have problem setting up or administering it the SoftPhone. One thing I should point out before we begin is that not all CTI SoftPhones are created equally. Available features, like call transfer, conference, new line, re-skill, etc., will vary from CTI SoftPhone so some of the thing mentioned may not me relevant to your situation. Be sure to verify the capability of the SoftPhone you have.

Lets get started! Here are some of the more common terms that you will most likely encounter as you work with the Salesforce CTI SoftPhone.


A SoftPhone is a software program that you run on your computer to make telephone calls over the Internet; PC-to-PC calls for free, PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC. However, as I have been remind by many telecom experts that the Salesforce CTI SoftPhone is not a true SoftPhone. It is more like the dialing pad on your telephone and in order to place telephone calls you need a software program to connect and receive calls over the Internet.

Call Center

With respect to Salesforce, a Call Center regulates access to a specific vendors CTI SoftPhone system. It can be found in Salesforce by going to Setup > App Setup > Customize > Call Center. Before you can create a Call Center you need the Call Center Definition File for your specific SoftPhone (basically a CTI Softhphone configuration written in XML). Once the Call Center is defined users can be assigned it on the user record. They will now have access to use the SoftPhone, but don’t forget to configure the SoftPhone Layouts.

Call Center Agent / User

This refers to the person working at the call center that logs into Salesforce to answer or place calls. The Salesforce user must be assigned to a Call Center and have the SoftPhone Agent running on their computer in order to used the CTI SoftPhone.

SoftPhone Layout

The SoftPhone Layout is similar to a page layout, including how the layout is assigned specific user profiles. It defines what caller information is displayed in the SoftPhone in the left sidebar, what objects to search for phone number matches (Acounts, Contact, Leads), and how to behave if multiple matches are found.

SoftPhone Agent

Software that is installed and runs as an agent on your computer that bridges the interface between the web browser and the SoftPhone. If the SoftPhone agent is not running, then the SoftPhone will be not be shown in the web browser, but once it is started the SoftPhone should appear within a few seconds.

Station ID

Some telephony solutions require a telephone station/base (usually has a handset or a plug for a headset) installed at each computer where the Salesforce SoftPhone may be used. The stations are assigned a unique station ID and users will be required to specify this when logging into the softhphone.

Skills-based Call Routing

Calls are automatically routed to a call center agent based on a skills matrix that rates their competency to handle the call. The goal of the skills-based call routing is to direct calls to the most proficient call center agent that is not currently on the call.

Inbound Call / Outbound Call

An inbound call is the call center agent receives a call and an outbound call is the call center agent placing a call. Think of it from the perspective on being inside the call center.
Cold Transfer / Warm Transfer / One-Step Transfer
For a cold transfer, also known as a one-step transfer, the caller center agent blindly transfers the caller to a new phone number and disconnects from the call. A warm transfer is where the agent places the caller on hold, dials a phone number, brief the person that answered, and then completes the transfer.


As calls are ended a disposition or final outcome is associated with them. This could denote that the call was a sale, wrong number, resolution to a support issue, or a comment.


A brief audible introduction is played through your headset whenever a call is answered. It is meant to prepare you for the type of all you are answering. For instance, a whisper may say the type of call being received, like “support”, “product ABC”, etc. This is feature provided by the telephony system; not Salesforce.

Screen Pop

A screen pop is the population of caller information onto your computer screen as the call is being connected. In the case of the Salesforce CTI SoftPhone the caller information is displayed in the SoftPhone component and when Salesforce loads the caller’s record, e.g. Account, Lead, etc. This behavior can be override, but the CTI SoftPhone system can support this.


A marquee is a specific type of screen pop. It is simply a pop-up window/dialog that is shown whenever a call is answered. The information in the marquee could be the product being called about, display caller details, etc. This is feature provided by the telephony system; not Salesforce.

ANI / Automatic Number Identification

This is a telephony term that is simply caller ID.

DNIS / Dialed Number Identification Service

This is a telephony term that is the telephone number that is being called.

You should now know enough to dive into the Salesforce SoftPhone. The Salesforce online help should be a little easier to digest. An important point regarding CTI SoftPhones, if you are not receiving incoming calls…

Is your SoftPhone call status set to Ready for Calls?

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