Call recordings are at the core of ensuring contact center performance, productivity, profitability and compliance through the vital information they collect and store from customer interactions. To help centers decide on recording solutions and strategies, Customer Interaction Solutions reached out to several industry experts and firms and asked them questions on:
* What is new in contact center recording needs and trends and their drivers
* Whether contact centers need to have recording tools that are HD-capable
* The need to capture customer interactions on every channel, voice, IVR and text-based means
Here are the highlights of their answers:
Keith Kress, marketing manager
The big trend in contact centers right now is the desire to derive more business intelligence [from recordings] from the vast number of interactions that happen each day. Technology, such as speech and desktop analytics, are able to sift through huge amounts of data to uncover patterns or trends that may have otherwise been missed.
We’ve mainly seen HD audio for internal communications within an organization, but not to the general marketplace. The adoption of HD is always going to be limited by the weakest link. The ability to record HD audio is nothing new for CallCopy, and is actually beneficial for us in many ways. For example, higher quality audio is better for our speech analytics engine. We recommend that any organization looking to implement a call recording application should “future-proof” their investment by taking into account future trends, such as more widespread adoption of HD audio.
Customers are really driving this through their expectation of having more than one way to contact an organization. So there is an obvious need to capture and connect all of these interactions, regardless of the channel through which they are received. CallCopy has developed tools, such as screen-only recording and API triggers, to handle multi-channel interactions just like any other interaction.
We identified session border controllers as a technology that many large contact centers will be using in the future, and integrated their support into our product development process. Integration with devices such as session border controllers allows us to capture and process data, leading to lower costs for our customers.
Frost and Sullivan (www.frost.com)
Keith Dawson, principal analyst
Recording solutions have become commoditized, with little functional difference between tools. That’s pushing prices down for bare recording, and making vendors work harder to develop value added applications that improve functionality. That’s where the real innovation is happening, and it’s what’s driving recording these days. We’re also seeing an interest in analytics and resurgence in interest in coaching applications.
What’s also innovative is what people are starting to do with what they record. This includes subjecting the unstructured voice data to analysis and marrying it to data from other sources (switch data, CRM data) to get a better feel for the overall contours of the customer interaction.
I have not heard any vendor or end user talk about HD Voice. Present levels of non-HD voice recording seem to be sufficient.
You have so many technologies that operate in silos that gather and report on interactions, that it’s a reasonable question to ask, in the face of all these channels, do you have a single view of the customer? And largely, the answer is no. Most centers don’t have a way to see the connections between whether a person on the phone has also sent a text message, or is an authorized user in a customer support forum. This involves marrying data from those interaction systems, the call handling side, as well as the customer data itself, from the CRM and agent-facing systems, and all the knowledge base and self-service or community data that the customer has interacted with before even entering the formal contact center.
And if contact centers are going to create a holistic service delivery process that touches all those varied inbound channels, they are going to have to have a process for knitting the data picture from these interactions together as well. And the figures for people who say this is either happening or going to happen in their organization are going up, slowly but surely.
MiaRec (www.miarec.com )
Gennadiy Bezkorovayniy, CEO and founder and Tatyana Polyakova, marketing director
We see mention further expansion of VoIP technology in the contact centers and in call recording particularly. The key reason for this is that VoIP can reduce operational costs, as well support a more centralized application management and integration with a variety of enterprise applications.
Another big shift in call recording we are seeing in recent years is that organizations are actively taking advantage of hosted call recoding solutions, as well as of other hosted/SaaS-based contact center solutions. Functionally-rich hosted call recording solutions eliminate the need for large up-front investments and are available on a monthly basis. At the same time, remote staffing in contact centers continues to rise. VoIP and hosted telephony infrastructure have made it possible to use home-based agents and to optimize costs. Consequently, call recording providers have to respond to the needs to track the call activity of remote agents. MiaRec expects HD Audio to become a commonplace in the contact center industry in next two to three years, when HD Audio is successfully adopted at all stages of a telecommunication channel between customers and contact centers. That includes customer-premises phones, telephone service provider's infrastructure, interexchange network and the call center PBX systems.
We see significant progress in adopting HD Voice by VoIP service providers, for instance, 8&8, Ooma, Verizon (News - Alert) and other providers constantly increase the customer base for their own HD-capable VoIP services. At the same time, leading mobile operators such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless are declaring adoption of HD Voice in the next one to two years. Orange (News - Alert), a mobile operator from UK, already launched HD Voice service in September 2010.
Contact centers focusing on high-quality customer experiences want to have a whole picture of customer interactions across all channels. Consequently, they need solutions to able to track and analyze customer interactions at every touch-point. Of vital importance is social media. It is not a secret that customers are more likely to share a negative experience on social media sites, than by contacting the company directly. Tracking and evaluating of all voice and non-voice interactions, including social media activities, provide contact center managers with better insights on customer service processes. They represent the opportunity for contact centers to improve their customer experience.
Brian Spencer, president
Many contact centers are now grappling with varied regulations and industry requirements along with their own business requirements. Think about how the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) affects the ability to execute a 100 percent record and retain policy. This is driving contact centers to seek sophisticated solutions that will seamlessly integrate into their existing information technology in a way that very finely controls media capture, access and data lifecycle management.
The fact that TDM is still the dominant form of connection to the public network will be the limiting factor to HD Voice in the contact center. Until a large percentage of the total users connected to the public network—consumers and businesses alike—it won’t be a contact center reality.
Most contact centers with which we are speaking are focusing the majority of their processes and technology around calls and e-mails. They have a more significant challenge than technology providers in driving culture change and acquiring the skills needed to assertively communicate effectively through social media—and the technology challenge is not easy! We expect this to be an evolution over time.
Bruce D. Kaskey, co-founder
Every day our customers face challenges brought about by new regulations, changes brought about by new management and changes brought about by new business opportunities. 100 percent recording is now the norm, basically because it’s so much easier to record and search for calls. In the past the cost and the difficulties sorting calls forced customers to pare down the amount of phones they wanted to record.
HD Voice is important because the calls become clearer, with less static and with higher quality for customers. And for those customers that deploy or wish to deploy speech analytics, this is important because of the improved performance it enables. OrecX supports HD Voice and the g722 codec.
All customer interactions should be recorded, saved and analyzed for customer satisfaction, compliance and risk issues. All these factors can help a business be more successful. The best way to quantify how and what you need to record or manage is, “What would be the risk if we did not record, store or manage this customer touch point?” Obviously if it’s the law, the risk is high, but what is the cost of losing a customer? Not knowing why you are losing the customer? How much does it cost to interact with the customer? How much does the customer up-buy by good customer service? Each customer or business must decide what interactions are the most valuable and how they must use it.
Ed Templeman, director of marketing
There is the need for robust recording and WFO (workforce optimization) solutions that are easier to implement and maintain and that reduce the initial and ongoing IT support and infrastructure costs associated with these capabilities. TelStrat sees this as solutions that allow much higher recording densities per server, or even a full WFO suite that requires only a single server.
The need for PCI-compliant solutions continues to expand, driven by several recent high-profile identity theft cases that stress the need to protect call recordings and customer data. TelStrat’s Engage Record fully supports the PCI standard and even implements measures that go beyond the requirements. Encryption, to AES 256-bit, is provided not just across public networks, but totally end-to-end, all the way to the playback client machine. TelStrat is upgrading other components of the Engage Suite, such as Engage Capture and Engage Coach to also feature full encryption.
The advent of HD Voice in contact centers promises to enhance customer/agent interaction with crystal clarity and a vibrant “in-the-room-like” presence. At double the sampling rate and more than double the frequency range of standard PSTN calls, HD Voice promises to alter the aural landscape for agents and customers alike. The increased fidelity will also allow greater accuracy in IVR, analytics, and other speech-related systems.
HD Voice requires an HD codec and, to realize the benefits, all portions of the network must support it. If any portion traverses the PSTN, HD quality is lost. This means that, while possible, practically speaking it will take a few years for anything but internal calls to achieve critical mass in the HD arena. That said, HD Voice is starting to take hold. Cellular networks in Europe, on Skype (News - Alert) and others are already offering it. Recording vendors and customers would do well to be ready when the time comes.
The majority of our customers are still interacting with their customers using voice. Our Engage Capture application currently allows recording screen-based interactions synchronized with Engage Record’s voice call content. Chat, texts, social media and other non-voice forms of communication are starting to play an increasing role as standalone customer interaction methods. The next logical step will be to capture, catalog, knowledge mine, and archive those interactions just as we do with voice calls today. To date though, we have not seen sufficient demand for such capabilities from our customers.
Scott Bluman, director, product management and Brynn Palmer, principal, solutions marketing
Bluman: The major trend right now in contact center recording has to do with centralization. As more centers make the transition from the traditional TDM trunks to VoIP-supported SIP trunks, they are also taking a closer look at their overall infrastructure and consolidating to more centralized server footprints. This reduces the number of servers and saves on costs. Because server capacity is increasing and costs are decreasing, we’ve seen our customers moving to 100 percent recording.
Bluman: We haven’t seen our customers deploy HD widely yet; Verint’s software can record audio utilizing high-definition voice codecs. There are factors that come into play outside of Verint’s technology. One is that network equipment and IVR systems don’t always support HD Voice. Adding to this, customers dialing into the contact center are, for the most part, on their analog POTS or mobile lines that do not support HD Voice end- to-end.
Even if the contact center transitions to HD Voice, the quality does not transfer to the other end of the line and there is no benefit. When customers start truly using HD Voice -capable devices, interfacing with the contact center from their computers–on Skype for example–or on a smart phone using Wi-Fi or G3/G4, we will likely see greater adoption of HD-capable contact centers. It will happen eventually because of the clear benefit of the call sounding better.
Palmer: Companies must fully realize that if they are going to have a 360 degree view of customers that they must monitor, record and analyze interactions that happen via chat, e-mail, texts and on social networks in addition to recording voice. To do that they must have the tools in place to collect the data at the enterprise level. They must also have the ability to quickly analyze the data and effective business processes to proactively address the findings and make real time adjustments at the right time to impact the business.
Companies are getting better at understanding the value of collecting data from the same source at the enterprise level and are now adopting speech, data and text analytics tools from companies like Verint to “listen” to the true voice of the customer. Organizationally, there has been a shift as well. Several of our customers have set up teams to monitor these emerging sources of the customer voice. These centralized teams focus on analyzing the findings and then sharing customer insights with other business units.
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell