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So, Your Company Wants To Start Call Recording?

When the team at Intelligentics began assessing our client’s phone calls, it was the early 1990s. How different things were in the early days of doing Quality Assessment (QA) of calls between clients and their customers.  Back then, we often used high-end cassette recorders plugged into a phone jack in the client’s utility room. From cassette tapes to voice-activation, to CDs, to digital audio files, to Voice Over IP (VOIP), and then to the Cloud a lot has changed in 30 years.

Like most things with technology and business, the largest companies have teams of people hired to figure out the best technology for getting things done and pockets deep enough to afford pricey systemic solutions. For small-to-medium-sized businesses, however, the initiative to start monitoring phone calls and doing some kind of QA program is predicated on having a way to record and listen to phone calls. (BTW: You don’t want to do any kind of QA program by live-monitoring calls. We’ll discuss why in a different post. For now, just trust us. You don’t want to go there.) It continues to amaze us how often companies struggle with this very simple question of “How can we record phone calls?”

A disclaimer: Intelligentics is system-agnostic when it comes to recording calls. Our expertise lies in how to assess the calls you’re recorded and how to get the best data intelligence and tactical information you want and need with a reliable methodology. Over time, we’ve used most of the major software solutions out there and typically work with whatever means our clients use to record their calls. To wax colloquial: “We’ve got no dog in this hunt.” We’d just like to offer you some sage advice from our years of industry experience.

First things first: You want to do is separate in your mind the technology of recording your team’s phone calls from any process or technology used in assessing them, scoring them, or reporting the results. For twenty years the big telecom companies have spent tons of money trying to convince us the best thing is to marry the recording technology and assessment methodology into one software suite they can sell you with their telephony system. It sounds like a no brainer to have a system that comes with your telephony system which will record calls and give you the software tools allowing you to build the assessment, score the calls, and report the outcome. You can go down that road, but you need to be aware of a couple of important facts:

First, once you pay the big price tag for the suite of software you’re stuck with it. We’ve known companies who ended up hating the QA software but it was a package deal on which the company spent tons of money. They’re stuck with a solution that doesn’t work for them, but they have to make it work. Technology once again becomes the tail that wags the dog.

Second, once you get into the nuts and bolts of using the QA software you may find that it doesn’t allow you to do what you really want. It was designed to generally do what the designers anticipated most companies would need. If you find it’s not working for you and you ask them to make changes you’ll typically hear “That’s a great idea for a future update” (Translation: “Maybe…someday.”) or you’ll hear “Sure, we can have our programmers customize something for you. Here’s a proposal for how many thousands of dollars it will cost you.”

Unless you have experience in QA and know exactly what you want or need, it’s best to start small. Forget the assessment for the moment start by simply finding a way to get a digital audio recording of phone calls that you can easily access. So where do you start?

Your telephone provider may be the best place to start. In some cases, there may be an existing technology that works with your system or switch. Many small-to-mid-sized companies have yet to make the switch to web-based or VOIP phone systems. The bad news is that older analog systems don’t make it as easy, but the good news is that the solutions that do exist may be simple and relatively inexpensive. Make sure that you let them know you’re looking for very simple recording and accessing functionality and don’t be surprised if they want to sell you more than what you need.

There are also third-party recording specialists like the Call Recording Center who are also platform-agnostic and who have simple recording options for both VOIP and analog phone systems. In some cases, a third-party provider can also scale their recording solution to record only the agents or stations you need rather than finding a system-wide solution which gives you capabilities you’re not sure you’re ever going to use (e.g. You want to record the Customer Service team, but don’t need to record extensions in the C-Suite or the HR desk).

A less common road that we have observed a client take is to hire a company to design a recording solution and program it from the ground up based on the client’s existing phone switch and technology. It’s pretty rare to see a company choose this option, but we have experienced it and it did work well for the client who chose that option for their current situation.

If you’re new to this process you may already be looking at your options and wondering whether you start with just audio recording or invest in technology to record both audio and video (e.g. You can see what the agent was doing on the computer screen as they took the call). Once again, our experience would lead us to encourage any QA newbies to start small and grow the technology as you develop your QA program and gain a better understanding of exactly what it is you want and need. Most often, there are a lot of quality gains that can be made with simple audio recordings and a one-time assessment such as our Inspect100. When we start small with companies and assist them in growing their QA program, we typically have tremendous long-term success. When companies dive into the deep-end with a major technology investment but no QA experience, it’s common to see companies abandon both the technology and their efforts for lack of tangible and/or sustainable results.

If we can answer any questions you might have, feel free to reach out and we’ll do our best to assist.