The growing need for call recording as a result of compliance requirements, liability issues and demands for better customer service, naturally leads consumers to their IP/PBX Solutions provider or industry experts.
Why would a company record their calls?
- Staff training and development: It's a competitive world and providing excellent customer service is paramount to commercial success. Recording and monitoring calls is one of the best ways to train and coach staff on how to handle calls effectively.
- Compliance: Mandated, regulatory recording must be adhered to by law. In many sectors, recording telephone converstations are mandatory to comply with government regulations. Originally though of as a simple contact center issue, many regulations are now spreading throughout the Enterprise forcing companies to deploy recording in areas where traditionally no recording was necessary. Having recorders deployed can serve as a preventative measure in assuring full compliance, no matter what industry is involved.
- Liability: Recording limits financial risk for companies by providing a definitive account of transactions. Protecting business interests by proving 'who said what' in a dispute can be vital, saving an organisation time and money. Recording telephone calls can also avoid the problems associated with inaccurate order taking, lost delivery details or disputes concerning pricing.
- Verification: Companies record to ensure transactions are properly documented for substantiation.
- Quality Monitoring: QM allows organisations to reduce expenses, increase revenue and enhance the customer experience.
- Interaction Analytics: IA allows users to be proactive rather than reactive by gaining insight from various areas of business and from customers directly.
Different Types of Recording
VoIP Call Recording
Voice over Internet Protocol is sending a voice conversation over a corporate LAN/WAN and/or the Internet. The voice signal is split into separate packets (RTP) and then transmitted over a data network to the desired destination. The separate packets are reassembled at the receiving end and the digital information is converted back into a duplicate of the original voice signal.
Recording in a VoIP system utilises a commonly found feature of IP network switches called port mirroring. This feature provides the capability to copy data packets from one port on the switch to another destination on the network. In a Cisco environment this feature is called SPAN which is short for Switched Port Analyzer. Using this method, the switches in a network are configured to mirror data packets from a VoIP phone ports to ports on a VoIP call recording system.
Benefits of VoIP Call Recording
VoIP call recording provides specific advantages over traditional telephony recording approaches. These advantages often justify the costs asssociated with migrating to a full VoIP recording system even in cases where the there is a mix of VoIP and traditional telephony devices.
Some of these advantages include:
- Centralised Recording: Removes the need to implement recording capabilities at remote sites and provides for more efficient use of recording resources. System maintenance and support requirements are also lower.
- Faster Implementation: there is no need to re-wire or tap into traditional telephone wiring. Configuration is also much easier!
- Reduced Maintenance Costs: Moves, adds and changes can be implemented without the need for cable rewiring, punch downs or cross connects.
- Scalability: Adding recording channels can usually be done by simply expanding a software license.
- Remote Branch and Home Agent Support: The unique ability of VoIP telephony to easily support remote-branch or home agents greatly simplifies the process of extending recording capabilities to these locations.
Trunk Side Recording
This type off recording is available on any type of PBX. Compatibility with the recording system is not an issue. The phone lines deliver voice and call data to the PBX. This recording method enables all calls to be recorded without investing in a record channel for each phone. For example, if you have 2x PRI ISDN lines (providing you with 60 call channels) and 100 phone extensions, you will only need to record the 60 call channels instead of the 100 extensions as is the case with Extension side recording.
Another benefit to this type of recording is the ability to record your entire customers call. Even if the call is put on hold, transferred to three different extensions and then sent to a manager - the entire call is captured.
The downside to this configuration is that no internal calls are recorded. Since the recoridng system is connected in front of the switch, it doesnt see any of the extension to extension calls.
Extension Side Recording
An Extension side recording configuration requires the ability of the recorder to interface to the existing extension phones. It is critical to identify the make and model of each telephone handset, as well as the make and model of the PBX that is in use. Call data that can be collected is specific to the PBX type and the instrument in use. Typically call data that is presented to your phone display, any button being pressed, and lamp appearences can be captured and indexed to the call. This allows the recorder to trigger the recording based on specific events on the telephone and to permit recording on certain extensions on a multi-line phone.
This recording type enables all calls to be recorded that are handled by the extension connected to the recording system - which includes inbound, outbound and extension-to-extension calls. Only calls handled by the phones connected to the recording system are recorded. As soon as a call is transferred out of the connected station/agent pool the call is no longer recorded. So you are able to record the internal calls, and within the recorded pool but unable to follow a customers call that is transferred out of the recorded pool.
Calculating your Return on Investment
With careful planning, system payback can be achieved within a few months. When reviewing how to calculate your return on investment, you should factor in the following areas:
- Increase in sales revenue from telephone transactions or improved sales techniques
- Increase in first-time resolution due to improved customer service skills
- Reduction in call handling times due to improved product knowledge
- Increased efficiency: fewer agents can handle more calls in the same period
- Recording identifies targeted training needs, which can result in reduced training costs
- Company liability can be protected by proving call content to resolve disputes
Selecting a Recording System
There are many considerations impacting choice when selecting a recording system. The following points should help you identify the type of solution required.
- How many people do you need to record? Are you recording all users, or just those in a specific area of business, or those performing specific tasks or operations?
- Trunk-side versus Extension-side recording. If you choose to record on the extension or internal side then you will follow users conversations. Trunk-side highlights the customers side of their interaction with your business. If you opt for extension-side recording then the type of PBX, ACD or Call Center that you are using becomes an important factor.
- Do you operate a free-seating policy? Where "free-seating" agents are employed, tracking and recovering calls to a specific agent becomes more complex. The recording needs flags and identification, so that calls can be linked to agents, agent PINS or extension numbers. The indexing of calls and their retrieval from the storage source will then require the use of a PBX CTI link.
- Do you require online storage and if so, how much? How quickly do you need to retrieve a recording? Speed of retrieval is dependent on how far back into the archive records a call has been stored. Whilst the index can quickly identify which recorder, and even which tape or media to install to the recorder, the access time will include the physical act of finding the relevant media and inserting it into the recorder. For calls that are still resident in the online hard disc storage the access time can be no more than a few seconds.
- How long do you need to archive recordings for? How long do you maintain your logs and call transcripts for? Is it a requirement to do so?
- How important is it for you if you lose recordings due to a system fault? Does it matter if you lose recordings? If yes, what level of resiliency or redundancy would be sufficient?
- Remote Access - Do you record telephone calls at more than one site or do you plan to do so in the future? Do you require the ability to locate, retrieve and play back calls from any site to a central site? If telephone calls are recorded at one site only, do you want the ability to locate, retrieve and play back calls at a remote site/office?
- Maintenance - Have you thought about maintenance and administration of the system once this has been installed? It should not be viewed as a passive piece of equipment. Problems often occur when moving office or extensions, adding users or upgrading/making changes on your switch. In some cases there is no longer a physical connection to the voice recording system but this still needs to be administered in the correct way to ensure problems do not occur.
- Compatability and Integration - Voice recording systems are every bit as sophisticated and complex as their respective telephone systems and switches and so a good provider should be able to suggest a system that will be compatible with your existing infrastructure.
Purchasing a Recording System
Once you have a clear idea of the type of system you want to invest in, there are a number of ways that this can be acquired. For those organisations who prefer to have their systems onsite but do not want the upfront cost of acquiring it, some companies may offer innovative financial arrangements for rentals, leasing and managed services.
Rentals should be considered for short-term recording requirements or as a proof of concept when seeking to buy, but do not fall into the trap of turning the rental into a long-term practise which, when calculated, shows that the system could have been purchased at a lesser cost than the rental.
People, Process and Training
People and processes should not be ovelooked and the technology should not be purchased in isolation from these users. To get the most out of any voice recording system there should be a dedicated product champion. This person or team needs to understand how they can leverage the technology to deliver true business benefits and implement effective quality procedures. Training and consultancy can often help hone in on this and get everyone focused on the end result. If everything is done correctly at this stage, significant financial returns and value can be gained.