What is call monitoring?

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A team leader monitoring the call of one of her call center agents
outbound call in progress

You want your call center agents to provide the best customer experience to your callers. To do that, they need proper training, coaching, and support from your organization.

One of the best ways to provide these is for managers and supervisors to monitor your agents’ inbound or outbound calls in real-time. This is to listen in on, or if needed, enter the conversation. They can even take over the call altogether.

A call center agent getting feedback from his coach

Call monitoring definition

What is call monitoring?

Call monitoring is a call management function that refers to the process of listening to calls with the goal of improving customer interactions.

Usually, it's the call center agent's coach or supervisor who listens in on live calls; but the quality assurance team or the contact center manager may use it for call quality monitoring after the call was completed as well.

It's one of the many ways contact centers can manage and plan their agents' training to make them more efficient and productive.

Can calls be monitored?

If you’re wondering if your business can legally listen in on the calls between your agent and your customers, then here's the answer.

Under federal law, you can monitor phone calls provided that they are business-related (for example: training and quality assurance). Some state laws, however, take it a bit further and require that all parties agree to the conversation being recorded or monitored. That's why it's best practice to notify customers that the call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes and get their consent via the interactive voice response (IVR) system before the automatic call distribution (ACD) and call routing feature kicks in and transfers the call to an agent.

What is a call monitoring system?

A call monitoring system is a system or software that allows you to observe your call center agent's calls. It's included in many business phone systems or cloud-based call center solutions.

In particular, RingCentral has a very flexible call monitoring tool included in their contact center solution. More than just a call listening software that simply lets you listen in on calls, it also gives you the ability to take specific actions that can help resolve issues occurring within the call. These actions can be taken via some advanced  call monitoring functionality like call whisper, call barge, and call takeover:

What advanced call monitoring features can your call center leadership use?

Call whisper diagram

Speak to an agent to help handle the call

Call whisper

Most call monitoring solutions allow the person monitoring your agents’ calls to speak directly to the call center agent without the customer hearing. With only the agent hearing them, supervisors and coaches can give verbal assistance without affecting the call.

Call barge diagram

Join the call to help facilitate the call

Call barge

This feature, in contrast to whisper, lets the person listening in to join the conversation. In this case, both the agent and the caller will hear and talk to the coach or supervisor, which is pretty similar to conference calling.

It's usually done when the agent has trouble handling the caller's concern and isn’t picking up whispered instructions very well. Since the coach or supervisor is already listening to the call, they can step in when the caller asks for a supervisor or manager. It’s more efficient than using call forwarding to route calls to the next available supervisor.

Call takeover diagram

Take over the call and free an agent

Call takeover

In cases where the agent is making mistakes that can be detrimental to the customer relationship, the person listening in can also completely take over the call. In this case, the agent is cut off from the caller, who will now directly speak to the coach or supervisor who took over the call.

Call recording diagram

Call recording

Instead of listening in on active calls, your quality assurance team can instead choose to review the agents' previously recorded calls from the call logs. They won't have the ability to affect the call anymore, but it's a useful tool for evaluating agent performance and identifying trends in customer inquiries.. With RingCentral, you can record calls automatically or on-demand.

How does call monitoring software work in your business phone system?

Activating this capability can be different from provider to provider. In the case of RingCentral, the call center monitoring software feature is enabled by the IT department or whoever has call center system admin privileges.

  1. They can create call monitoring groups and add users that will be given the ability to monitor calls. These are usually coaches, supervisors, QA analysts, and managers.
  2. Once the monitors are given this designation, they can then add the users you want to be monitored. These are the agents or employees under the umbrella of the monitors.
  3. Once the call monitoring group is created, the users given the monitoring privilege can now listen in, whisper feedback and instructions, or barge in and even take over calls.

People with admin privileges can also manage, set parameters, delete, and change configurations of each call monitoring group.

A young call center agent whose call is being monitored

Benefits of call monitoring

Why is call monitoring important?

Call monitoring is not just about evaluating agent performance. It's about improving agent performance.

  • Optimize coaching and training. There is nothing like getting feedback while you are doing your job. You can quickly assimilate the instructions you are given into the task you are performing. And that is what's happening with call monitoring. Coaches can listen in, whisper direct critique and instruction, or barge in or take over the call if they need to.
  • Minimizes escalations. By getting direct instructions from their coaches and supervisors, agents are more likely to resolve customer concerns themselves rather than escalate cases to a superior. These direct coaching sessions also improve agent performance, which reduces the number of escalations in the future.
  • Manage remote employees. With modern businesses moving towards remote work setups, the ability to still provide direct coaching and supervision to agents is key.
  • Training new agents. Call center agents who are new to the job need more help. The luxury of providing personal instruction where the coach can literally be in the new agent's ear can't be discounted.
A sales team supervisor listening in on her new sales agent’s call

Who uses the call monitoring feature of a call center software?

Call monitoring is for small businesses,  mid-sized businesses, or large enterprises; whatever your business size is, your organization can benefit from the ability to directly monitor your employees’ live calls.

Even if customers nowadays contact businesses through different types of channels like social media, live chat, text messaging, email, or even video conferencing, the traditional phone call is sometimes still the preferred way of connecting to organizations.

And as long as your employees interact with customers through voice calls, the luxury of having different options for training and guiding your employees in effective communications is worth it.

Here are some examples of how organizations use call monitoring to help improve employees interact better with customers.
Technical and customer service teams

It's where call monitoring is mainly used. These customer support teams usually take on long call queues because of the high level of inbound calls ranging from simple account queries to complex technical assistance requests. With these conditions, call monitoring is one of the tools used by the QA teams to ensure that agents meet the call center quality standards and directives.

And it's not only used for in-house teams. A lot of companies outsource their customer and technical support team to external contact centers. Call monitoring helps these contact centers meet their clients' demands in terms of quality of service.

Sales teams

Sales departments typically use call monitoring to train new agents. Whether it’s for inbound sales where leads contact sales or outbound sales, where the agent calls leads; coaches have the ability to provide direct feedback and instruction to sales agents. For example, they can give insights on how to approach specific cues from prospects.

They can also do it in reverse. Instead of the coach listening in on the new agent's call, the new agent can listen in on more experienced sales agents. This way, they can personally hear how experienced agents handle complex cases, counter a lead's arguments, and generally answer any questions thrown at them.

Marketing teams

While marketing teams rarely interact with customers directly, they can still use call monitoring. Many organizations' marketing departments use it to monitor how the sales team pitches their product or services to leads or potential customers.

Marketing departments want to ensure that the branding and messaging they are implementing in marketing campaigns align with what the sales team is communicating. If there is a disconnect, it is something that the whole company must address, or it will lead to lost leads and sales.

These are just some of the ways companies use call monitoring. It's a very flexible tool that can be employed by different businesses in a variety of ways. The possibilities are virtually endless.

What are you getting with the RingCentral cloud contact center call monitoring feature?

RingCentral's contact center platform takes pride in its versatility and flexibility. That includes its call monitoring feature that not only lets you listen in, whisper, barge, and take over calls but lets you enjoy these advantages as well:

  • Monitor calls from different devices including your mobile phone or computer through the RingCentral App
  • Monitor calls from business VoIP phones using simple key commands
  • Create up to 100 call monitoring groups per account
  • Enjoy automatic or on-demand call recording
Learn about how you can improve agent performance through a flexible and versatile call monitoring feature. Click the demo button and find out more about RingCentral's contact center solution.