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The Truth About Call Recording

It’s time to tell the truth about call recording. A ubiquitous feature, seen as a necessity by any regulated business or contact center that takes itself seriously, it remains one of the most undervalued and underutilized.

Why is Call Recording Undervalued and Underutilized?

In a nutshell, the costs of call recording have always far outweighed the benefits. Companies have spent too much money on solutions that failed to deliver the promised improvements in quality assurance, compliance, security and agent training.

The advent of cloud-based call recording solutions changes all that. Yet in spite of the many benefits that cloud offers over on-premises solutions, call recording remains marred by unsubstantiated misapprehensions, making it hard for contact center decision makers to make a clear choice that’s right for their business.

Call Recording Can Drive Revenue

The Myth: Call recording is a necessary evil, difficult and expensive to install, operate and maintain, with little connection or value to the business.

If that sounds all too familiar, then you are not alone. The very nature of traditional call recording solutions has long presented a challenge to the contact center. Often driven by compliance requirements, the potential for all of that captured information may have occurred to the business, but ultimately it has been seen as a cost, another line on the balance sheet with a negative number by it.

There are some very good reasons for this:

  • Installation is expensive, and on-premises hardware requires regular upgrades and constant maintenance
  • Integration with existing telephony platforms has been complex and fraught with technical difficulties where the customer has found themselves to be the system inte­grator between the vendor of the recorder and the PBX
  • On top of that, call recordings need to be archived, often becoming a full time job for IT staff who could be better deployed elsewhere
  • The difficulty of accessing archived recordings meant that, in spite of its potential as a quality assurance and training tool, call recording had little connection with any other business processes and therefore very little value
  • The longer a company recorded and stored calls, the bigger the headache they faced to manage and find media for playback

This complexity obviated the core benefits offered by call recording, which can offer a fascinating window into the reality of the interaction between the customer and its customers. All too often this approach is, let’s face it, an exercise in point­lessness. Which is a real shame, because the potential of call recording to transform the contact center is undeniable.

The Truth: Using cloud recording delivers both return on investment and drives revenue

  • Rapid deployment: Deployment is measured in terms of days rather than months. Customers de-risk their deployment and ensure that they are no longer the responsible party for making things work. Complex black box hardware is not required and time spent on technical design can be spent on user training and driving up adoption rates, which in turn improve ROI.
  • Easy integration with CRM systems: As customer experience management becomes everyone’s priority, contact centers are getting increasingly sophisticated in the way they track customer interactions. Because they are not based on dated, proprietary software, most cloud-based call recording solutions plug straight into your CRM systems, making recordings instantly accessible at the desktop, for anyone who needs it. No lengthy, expensive, risky IT integration project is required. More­over, users can now access call recording in the context of the customer’s interactions with the company, giving the recordings direct context and enabling the company to quickly deal with inquiries, complaints and escalations, and turn situations that would otherwise have a potential impact on customer loyalty to their advantage.
  • Customer workflow: Once the problem of access to call recording is solved, the contact center can build business processes that empower staff to be proactive in managing issues. By introducing alerts and personal­ized exception rules, managers can identify those cases where further action is needed to head off problems before they become complaints.
  • 360 degree service visibility: By integrating call recording with contact center workflows, managers can get a much more objective view of performance, enabling them to focus on key metrics such as first call resolu­tion. This can be tracked to create an objective view of performance and allow the business to identify areas for improvement at an individual, team or contact center level. The benefits for agent training are also immense, particularly with innovative technology such as screen recording helping to improve the responsiveness and ease of desktop and knowledge base applications.

All of this should have been possible with legacy call recording solutions, but the technology prevented it. With a next generation cloud solution, it is all available out of the box.

No longer the long, expensive and high-risk integration jobs, nor the headache of inordinate man-hours dealing with maintenance or sorting out complex archiving strategies and managing backup media. Call recording can now fulfill its potential as a way to track and improve business objectives, driving revenue rather than sapping profits.

Call Recording Can be Reliable and Scalable

The Myth: It is impossible to make call recording systems resilient or scalable within a reasonable budget.

With a single point of data collection, and a single point of failure, attempting to make on-premises call recording solutions fully resilient can be cost prohibitive:

  • When the system is expensive enough on its own, justifying a backup in case of failure is not possible. So when failure does occur, there’s no plan B. Where the business is relying upon call recording for compliance to regulatory standards, that’s just an unacceptable risk.
  • And considering the amount of time and effort that archiving takes, even if there was a backup system recording concurrently, the idea of potentially doubling the effort by managing those backups is just absurd.
  • So with on-premises recording, you’re left with one system to do the job, and when it fails to do that job you risk running against industry regulations and potentially having no way to tackle customer issues.
  • In addition to this, when you do need to increase your capacity, you need to buy more expensive equipment which is likely beyond your needs or means. Imagine business is going well and you need to increase your seats from 40 to 60, but your system can only handle 50. You’re then stuck with two not very appealing options: either rely on a system that’s only supposed to manage 10 less seats than you have, or pay a premium on capacity for 100 — 40 more than you require.
  • What makes this worse is, the more equipment you have onsite, the more your IT team has to manage and the higher the likelihood is of something failing.

And yet, despite these fundamental flaws of on-premises systems, it is often cloud services that you hear concerns about with regards to reliability.

The Truth: Cloud recording is more reliable and scalable than on-premises recording.

Of course, cloud is the far more reliable option, and many people are beginning to understand that. In fact West delivers carrier grade reliability that is likely to exceed any onsite system. A cloud-based service brings significant benefits when it comes to reliability and scalability:

  • Carrier grade reliability: On-premises enterprise equip­ment can only go so far. In the cloud, the economies of scale enable an altogether higher level of resilience with calls instantly mirrored to multiple geographical data centers to ensure greater business continuity.
  • Constant maintenance: As any IT manager knows, the majority of technology failures can be avoided if they can be predicted. Unfortunately, the practicality of having an IT team watching every system they administrate 100% of the time is untenable. Not so with a cloud service. West UC offers a dedicated team watching the service constantly.
  • Backups: One of the great virtues of your data being stored in the cloud is that having a plan B is no longer a hassle. In fact, you can record each and every one of your calls at least twice as they transit through our network, so it’s quite likely you’ll have a plan C too. That means that not only will things go wrong less, when they do go wrong it’s less of a problem.
  • Hassle free scalability: With a cloud service, you pay for what you need. That means if you need capacity for 60 seats then that’s exactly what you pay for. Not only that, but we allow every customer to flex up to twice their contracted capacity without any prior notification or communication. That means if you do scale up temporarily, there’s no extra strain on your IT team. Ultimately, this all means that where scaling a reliable call recording system was once an expensive headache, by using a cloud recording service all of that hassle and risk is taken off your hands. This leaves you with the opportunity to focus on your business’ success without the concerns that growing is going to impact your costs and service resilience.

PCI and Call Recording are Not Sworn Enemies

The Myth: As contact centers in a multitude of sectors process millions of card-based financial transactions on a daily basis, PCI DSS compliance is a challenge for any call recording solution.

When PCI and call recording collide, the results can be messy. The conflict being that whilst as a business you need to record and evidence financial transactions, PCI DSS requires you not to record the cardholder’s details.

It’s principally a data storage issue, as it is prohibited to store credit card numbers, expiry dates and three-digit security codes, due to the potential for fraud.

The generally accepted knowledge dictates that avoiding these problems is a huge headache. In technology terms you might have the option of recording via IVR, muting conversation for certain fields, you also want to avoid screen recording. All of these options are expensive to integrate and fraught with operational issues, causing a minefield for contact centers.

As a result of that, many continue to be non-compliant while others struggle with increased average handling times (AHT), callbacks for failed payments and considerably more post-call admin work.

The Truth: Cloud recording can make PCI compliance a breeze.

Once again, the benefits link back to what you are essentially doing by introducing a cloud recording system: outsourcing the hassle to someone dedicated to dealing with it. With the West UC solutions this means:

  • A simple approach: The whole call is recorded, but no card data is stored. Rather than tell the agent their card numbers, customers can enter them via the keypad, and from there they are sent directly to the card provider, completely sidestepping the recording versus storing conflict.
  • Better customer experience: This approach makes the customer feel safer, but it also means your agent does not come off the line at any point, significantly reducing your AHT and avoiding those issues with failed payments. This interactive human to human experience leaves customers far more satisfied than transfers to impersonal IVR systems.
  • Business integration: If you’re an ecommerce business, you can integrate it with your online payments so those customers wary of making payments online can interact with humans or automated services 24 hours a day to make the transaction on the phone, maximizing your online sales.

This means that not only is compliance with PCI DSS easy, implementation means that you are not impacting customer experience, AHT, or any other KPIs in the struggle to meet regulations.

Call Recording Can Reduce Staff Churn

The Myth: Call recording is an expensive overhead that fails to fulfill its quality assurance promise.

The assumption goes, your call recording system is just that: it records calls. As we’ve discussed, with on-premises systems sometimes it doesn’t even do that. But as long as it does, it’s doing its job.

On-premises call recording systems have tended to be about getting the job done, in order to meet with regulations and ensure everything’s on DAT tapes and archived in the base­ment. How on earth could that have any positive impact on the business’ bottom line?

The more advanced visionaries may have bolt-ons, to score calls and feedback to agents on performance to inform structured training, but generally these are expensive, so achieving an ROI this way is tough.

The Truth: Cloud recording can impact your bottom line.

Finding, recruiting, inducting and providing ongoing training for staff is expensive. Staff churn is therefore the enemy of the contact center management team and has a huge impact on the bottom line.

Assuming the loaded labor cost of your agents is $30,000 and it takes three months for a new hire to be fully trained up to speed, those non-productive months cost you $7,500. Then there’s the cost of that training, and the cost of actually hiring them, including agency fees, advertising, and HR resource. Estimated at 12% of a first year salary, that’s $3600.

So each new agent is costing a conservatively estimated $11,100 and that’s before they even take a call. If you have 100 agents and a staff turnover of 20%, that’s a cost of $220,000 per year, without accounting for the impact on customer care, reduction in first call closures and general performance of the contact center. If you can just reduce staff turnover by just 5%, you’re saving at least $53,500 per annum.

With a sophisticated training and motivation program, achieving that is absolutely possible, and that training and motivation must include call recording. By integrating recorded calls with your training program, you are able to equip team leaders with knowledge of agent performance, and agents with direct feedback on how to improve. With West UC’s cloud recording service that is all part of the package.

Cloud Recording is More Cost Effective

The Myth: Cloud recording is a risky option that will involve an expensive rip and replace process or a forklift upgrade.

We’ve explained how cloud recording can drive revenue and improve your bottom line, but even if that’s accepted many assume that there will be costs upfront for a risky rip and replace upgrade.

The Truth: Cloud recording is a more cost effective option.

When factoring together the costs of on-premises recording solutions, you have to consider not only the purchase cost but also:

  • Professional services for installation and training
  • CRM integration
  • Hardware expenses
  • Annual support
  • Upgrades and hardware maintenance
  • Backup recording

When compared to a cloud-based solution, where setup is minimal, CRM integration is free, and costs are based on a per user basis, the expenses quickly contrast. Because call recording is cloud-based, there’s no expensive hardware, no upgrade fees, and storage fees are low. And resilient recording is built in for free. Cloud recording is not just cheaper overall, the costs are spread so you’re never unexpectedly hit with a huge bill.

Call Recording is Not a Silver Bullet

The Myth: A call recording and quality management solution will automatically improve customer loyalty and staff retention.

Many contact centers will take the leap, and buy a next generation cloud-based call recording system. Installation is cheap, painless, and quick and they now have a shiny new system. Time to sit back and watch as customer satisfaction shoots up, and loyalty and staff retention improve.

The Truth: The right expertise can enable you to achieve your goals with a cloud recording solution.

Like any technology or system, with a cloud recording system what you get out of it is only as good as what you put in. Often contact centers won’t have the expertise in house to implement and maximize their new tool, or simply don’t have the bandwidth to dedicate time to reviewing and optimising the process on an on-going basis.

This is why West UC provides Success Management. Each of our customers are assigned a dedicated contact center professional with years of hands-on industry experience. This experience combined with a keen understanding of the customer’s business, allows them to work closely with the contact center in making the most of the platform within the context of that customer’s environment.

That means that no customer is left high and dry with their system, unsure of how to get the best out of it. Instead they have an expert on hand to help them really get the maximum value from the technology, and the contact center as a business.

What to Look for in a Call Recording System

We’ve revealed the truth about call recording, but how do you ensure that this is the truth in your contact center? We’ve put together a checklist of features to ensure are present in your system. None of these should be expensive bolt-ons, but come as standard.

  • Intuitive reporting and management information: Tailored management reports are essential to help you get the most out of your call recording systems. Find out what management information is available and how easy it is to tailor it to your specific requirements.
  • Full suite of quality management tools: The coaching tools available to trainers and supervisors have grown in number and sophistication, with many of them offering advanced features such as automated e-learning sessions based on an individual’s performance, as well as benefits such as free seating. Make sure a full suite of quality management tools is available as an integral part of your system.
  • Customer feedback surveys: Customer feedback is often the missing link in the quality management chain. Today’s most advanced systems offer automated phone surveys as part of the overall package.
  • Synchronized voice and screen activity: For quality monitoring purposes the ability to capture voice and screen activity offers a 360 degree view of agent interactions and workflows, enabling you to analyze performance and improve margins through streamlining.
  • Compliance: Does the system provide automatic compliance with the more complex technical aspects of regulatory compliance within your industry and region?
  • Search function: At the very least a search function should enable you to find files easily based on a number of definable fields such as policy number, incident reference or postcode as well as typical criteria such as CLID, dialed number and agent name.
  • Voice analytics: Many call recording systems now include voice analytics which automatically process, identify and tag calls with key elements of natural speech, helping you to automatically identify issues as they occur, produce historical reports, analyze call content to uncover actionable insights.
  • Training and help or support desk: It’s important that you understand exactly what level of support is available from your call recording provider. Will someone be available at the end of a phone call, if you need them?
  • Deployment flexibility & easy integration: It is possible to have a system that is up and running in hours, rather than months, thanks to the rapid pace of technological innovation and cloud-based services. Find out whether the supplier can deliver a fully working system within short timescales, with minimal disruption to your staff and working environment. Equally importantly, will the system integrate easily with your existing systems, such as payment processing sites, CRM systems and in-house booking applications?
  • Transparent pricing models/cost of ownership: Make sure that you understand the pricing system fully, that installation, hardware and total support and maintenance payments over the lifetime of the system are all factored in and that there are no hidden extras, such as paying for future upgrades.
  • TDM and IP recording: While the world is moving on from legacy TDM recording, your business may only be part way through that transition. You must ensure that your call recording provider not only has the capability for Voice over IP (VoIP) recording, but also has the capability to support your migration from TDM to VoIP without any functional or cost penalty.
  • Mobile phone recording: Some legislation, particularly in the financial services world, requires that calls with clients from mobile devices are recorded. It’s important too, that you can search and retrieve those calls using the same tools you use for your office or contact center calls for a fully joined-up view.

For more information about call recording, take a look at West Cloud Call Recording.

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