In this article, we will discuss:
- What is call centre recording?
- How it works
- Common types of call centre recording systems
- Benefits of call recording
- Best practices for call centre recording
If you’ve had telephone contact with a call centre during the last decade or so you will almost certainly have heard a piece of advice along these lines of: ‘calls will be recorded for quality assurance or training purposes’. You’ve probably listened to it so often now that it has ceased to possess any meaning.
But it obviously has significance, otherwise, why would you be told that call monitoring is taking place? A study reported that 90.3% of responding organisations said they were using call recording, and of the remaining 9.7%, almost half were looking to acquire it.
So let’s see what it is and why it’s important, before looking at some best practices, as well as touching on some of the features available in RingCentral’s call recording software.
What is call centre recording?
Call centre recording is the process whereby an organisation makes a record of interactions between individuals, usually the interactions that take place over the phone system. The interactions recorded will usually be between frontline employees and consumers and can be outbound or inbound communication. The recording itself will most likely be audio, but screen recordings and webcam footage of the employee are also possible.
How it works
This record of the conversation is automatically created by a dedicated platform and saved somewhere easily accessible by the call centre manager. There will be a raft of desktop tools available to the manager and they will have a range of metrics readily available that will assist them in making improvements to the call centre’s operation.
Common types of call centre recording systems
There are a variety of call centre recording systems available. Most of these will have the following features:
- Remote monitoring
- Real-time pausing and resuming of recordings
- Dashboards that contain a wealth of call data covering the basics like date, time and duration, as well as more detailed information, depending on the nature of the system.
- Analytical tools
- Encryption/masking tools to ensure customer information security
Let’s look at three common types of call centre recording systems.
Standard telephony system (PBX)
This has been the standard setup for telephony in the majority of organisations going back some time. PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is the system by which employees can make internal or external calls over a company network.
Up until a few years ago, this was mainly achieved via a cabled routing box that occupied physical office space. Nowadays, a virtual PBX is becoming the norm, wherein the system is cloud-based and operating with VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
There are all sorts of reasons why virtual is becoming more popular, including better accessibility.
Calls can be recorded via any device connected to the PBX, and the resulting audio file can be stored on drives in the office or on cloud servers. Most call centre managers will prefer the cloud-based alternative, as it results in a greater monitoring range and higher levels of convenience.
Call centre software
This is software that has been designed with the needs of call centres in mind, specifically having to deal with a large volume of calls, often in a single location.
Some call centre software will enable managers to record other channels of communication that customers might use, such as email and webchat. This is clearly beneficial in terms of getting an all-around picture of the centre’s performance.
Call centre software gives the manager a range of tools with which to analyse the spectrum of agent-customer interactions. Examples of this include speech analytics that can report on the tone of a conversation and key phrases that crop up. Speech analytics can be immensely helpful, as this graphic illustrates.
Transcriptions of telephone conversations can be automatically captured too.
These are independent packages that identify and automatically store interactions, either on-site or in the cloud. They will generally not be able to support user-initiated recordings but may be able to handle random sampling if required.
They will not usually be able to monitor or record omnichannel activity, so emails, SMS, and live chat transcriptions will need to be captured using text-based screen activity software.
Benefits of call recording
Determine the focus for improvement
Sometimes, among the mass of interactions that fill every moment in a busy call centre, there can be a matter that impedes sales across several call centre agents. Perhaps there’s an issue with a product that a lot of callers are concerned about. Maybe something’s been worded unhelpfully in a marketing promotion which sales agents are then charged with navigating through to conversion or resolution.
Call centre recording will flag up where these issues emerge by grouping repeated subjects of interaction so the manager can accurately and quickly grasp the frequency and significance of the subject.
The manager can then get up-to-date information out to all agents so that they can more successfully deal with an issue if it’s a common customer pain point. With this tech in place, agents are given the power to deliver better customer support.
Store valuable records
The information that emerges during call centre conversations can have tremendous value in terms of future relations with a customer. It may reveal interests and pursuits that could be leveraged during future marketing efforts, for example. From a legal perspective, matters of confidentiality are paramount here.
Address disputes and complaints
Every company that deals with members of the public will have to deal with disputes or complaints from time to time. Although, some of these will be more substantiated than others. When it comes to complaints about the way a conversation with a call centre agent went, the business will have all the material it needs to decide where the fault, if any, may lie.
Ensure quality and compliance
AI can deliver information on customer sentiment, which managers can use, both in real-time and after the event, to improve customer experience going forward. Best practice can be ascertained and spread so that excellence becomes the norm. In this respect, call recording has become a very valuable part of quality management. Call recording systems can also tell the manager when compliance with procedural or legal requirements is taking place or not.
Sometimes a manager will encounter a member of staff who’s performing in an exemplary fashion. For example, the employee may be brilliant at sidestepping pitfalls such as call abandonment. Using call centre audio recording and screen captures, the manager can demonstrate examples of textbook performance, thereby seeking to disseminate best practice among the workforce.
Conversely, a manager may come across an employee who might be performing somewhat sub-optimally. Call centre recording software gives the manager the power to identify poor performers and to focus closer on where the issues are occurring.
The manager can then use the recordings to demonstrate to the employee exactly what’s happening and why it’s not desirable. Recordings can then be used in training to help with rectifying the shortcomings.
Make better decisions
Using the range of analytics at their disposal, a manager can make decisions based purely on data and not on biases.
Recordings are an objective representation of interactions that tell the manager all they need to know about how the customer experience (CX) is being affected, whether it be by something macro, like a product issue, or micro, such as an agent’s failure to grasp the nature of an issue which impacts on customer satisfaction.
Detailed data is delivered in a clear – and crucially – real-time format, so well-informed and timely interventions are made possible.
Best practices for call centre recording
If the advantages to call centre recording are many, the pitfalls can be legion, especially in terms of confidentiality. For this reason, there are a number of best practices that should be adhered to, which we’ll dig into now.
Be up-to-date on laws and policies
It should go without saying that a company really doesn’t want to be found in transgression of the law. It can be disastrous for client confidence and is, of course, plain unethical, especially when it comes to laws governing privacy.
The most well-known provision for client confidentiality in the UK (and EU) is the suite of safeguards known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
It’s a wide-ranging and massively important collection of measures that were brought in in 2016 and has transformed the working landscape for a great number of organisations. This is the case regardless of where the business is based. If it does business in the UK or EU, then it has to comply with GDPR. This is why US companies are heavily engaged with it.
The impact it has had on call centres has been revolutionary, with the onus squarely now on the business to establish that client permission has been granted for data capture.
Transgressions can result in a fine of up to £17.5m or 4% of worldwide turnover. Wronged clients can qualify for compensation sums of over £10,000. All of this added to the catastrophic PR that a failure to comply delivers. So, you really need to be on top of this.
Other areas of significance include the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI – DSS) which governs the encryption of financial records that must be in place.
Get consent from both parties
As briefly covered, customer calls trigger an informative message that precedes any further interaction informing the caller that a recording will take place. If the caller continues with the call, then this amounts to implied consent so the business is in a position legally to record the call.
Or are they?
The business also has to acquire permission from the other party on the call, in this case, the agent. Obviously, to be required to do this as every call begins would be a little obstructive. Consequently, the employee’s permission is sought as part of the terms and conditions accompanying the position.
Once the contract is signed by the employee, it’s understood that they’ve granted permission for their calls to be recorded. This agreement must exist before the call can legally go ahead.
Constantly review recordings
There’s an ever-fresh influx of information as a result of call centre recordings. Most of this information has tremendous value to the organisation, so do be sure to analytically review the recordings on a frequent basis.
You might choose to do this with the employee in question, and ask them to give their opinions on how things went. This will make them feel more involved, which can help with employee happiness, and will possibly give you more of a detailed picture of the exchange. Knowing what the employee was thinking and how they were feeling is extremely valuable in terms of giving you ideas on how best to support such conversations in the future.
The other aspect of constant review is that one of the tenets of GDPR expressly forbids the accumulation of data on an individual that isn’t strictly limited to business needs. If you’re amassing recordings of calls that never get analysed, then you’re stockpiling data with no commercial purpose. And if the data has no strict commercial purpose, then you have no justification holding it.
Build a quality monitoring department
Another way of demonstrating a company’s GDPR credentials is to establish a department devoted to monitoring that information.
This has the added advantage of removing the burden from managers, as, with the best will in the world, call monitoring can sometimes become a little routine. In addition, it’s often tricky for managers to give adequate time and attention to the task.
A team that’s focused on monitoring and analysing data will be able to stay on-task, especially if the personnel of the team are refreshed by rotating the duty through the workforce. They’ll be able to assess quality through the analytical tools at their disposal and be capable of rating calls accordingly, assuring that KPIs are attended to.
This gives another benefit to the organisation: the knowledge that one’s performance will be subject to peer review. This, in most cases, prompts people to higher performance levels, and operational excellence will hopefully result.
Meanwhile, the manager can get on with other duties in the knowledge that they’ll be updated as soon as anything requiring their attention surfaces.
Choose the right technology
A successful call centre needs a system that can handle large amounts of traffic consisting of both inbound and outbound calls. However, on top of this, it needs various other features:
- A smooth integration with the current workflow.
- Compatibility with other relevant areas of technology, eg the company’s CRM.
- Valuable agent performance insights have to be generated in a speedy and easily understandable fashion.
- As well as speech analytics and other such tools, there should be features such as waveform playback to more clearly identify silences and cross-talk.
- Insights have to be readily accessible by those who are in the position of monitoring the calls.
- Routine tasks need to be automated, thereby speeding up processes.
- Regulatory compliance should be present throughout the system, and not just as an afterthought.
- Scalability is always important – you need a system that will grow with your business.
How RingCentral can help
RingCentral call recording solutions can optimise organisational functionality in a number of ways. Firstly, both on-demand and automatic recording are offered. The former is simply activated by dialling *9 on the user’s handset, or by pressing ‘record’ on the RingCentral phone app. The latter, available to RingCentral MVP Premium and Ultimate subscribers, records all outbound and inbound phone calls. It’s disabled by default and can be enabled through the administrator.
Automatic recording offers the following options:
- Create user groups for whom automatic recording always takes place.
- Route users in queues into automatic recording.
- A recurring tone to be played on the call, to remind all parties that it’s being recorded.
- A message played for the recipient of an outgoing call, informing them that a recording is taking place.
- Users can mute sections of the call so as not to capture any confidential information such as payment card details.
In addition to these features, RingCentral stores all recordings of interactions together in one place, allowing for management and team leaders to go on an interaction journey through the ups and downs of call flows, or to share or delete the entire interaction with ease. RingCentral also provides a focus feature, displaying when the employee was focused on a particular interaction, and an option to skip the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) portion when reviewing a recording.
Call recording clearly has a major part to play in a call centre’s success, and RingCentral can provide the solutions to all of your call centre needs.
Originally published Sep 01, 2022, updated Sep 21, 2022