This summer may be the opportune time for contact centers to take a renewed look at their recording strategies. If their organizations are switching over from PSTN/TDM to IP, which will require in most cases buying new recording tools, it makes sense to utilize this occasion to rethink how they want to use recordings.
With the demand for products and services increasing, there is a redoubled focus on retaining and building new as well as on existing customer relationships that requires staying on top of quality issues. There is a growing realization by senior management that call recordings contain valuable information about customers’ behavior, desires and wants and agents’ performance that can be mined with speech analytics. Thieves also see the value in recording-captured data, leading to ever-stricter regulations and standards, such as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) data security standards (PCI-DSS) that demands tougher controls to prevent unauthorized access.
Just on the horizon, the growing popularity of text-based communications – chat, e-mail, SMS and social media – require screen captures and integrating them with call recordings. This unification, along with exchanges gathered from websites and automated voice systems obtains complete and captured multidimensional views of customer/agent interactions. Down the road the IP transition will enable a shift from narrowband to wideband a.k.a. HD voice that enables greater voice range hence more natural sounding acoustics compared with that delivered over TDM that in turn will permit more information to be obtained from voice conversations.
“The need and market for contact center recording is not going away; if anything it is getting stronger,” reports Jim Davies, research director, Gartner (News - Alert). “There is increasing desire for quality monitoring to ensure performance, a need to improve customer experience, and compliance with stricter PCI standards that combined with the TDM to IP shift are boosting investment in recording systems.”
From Random to All
These trends are prompting more contact centers to employ a strategy of recording 100 percent of calls. Random sampling is no longer adequate in today’s (and tomorrow’s) environments.
Matt Storm, NICE Systems director of Americas marketing reports that a survey of his firm’s customers reveals that of those having less than 100 percent coverage, 57 percent expect to increase that amount by sometime in 2010, with more than one-third of those planning to deploy 100 percent recording.
“Respondents said regulatory compliance is a primary driver,” reports Storm. “Greater recording coverage also helps to improve the quality management process by providing more call samplings for evaluation and allowing managers to investigate specific performance issues such as script compliance or excessive transfers and hold times. Speech analytics also delivers the highest return on investment when able to process higher volumes of recordings.”
Brian Spencer, president, OAISYS is seeing more small-midsized businesses (SMBs) especially increase the types and volumes of calls being recorded. Until recently, he says the SMB conversation around voice recording consistently started with a specific compliance or liability requirement; quality control was a secondary benefit if not an afterthought.
“Businesses have become more keenly aware of the call recording drivers, and are taking the necessary steps to implement effective compliance and risk management programs,” says Spencer. “More than ever, companies want to understand what influences customers to continue doing business with them.”
Protecting the Data
All contact center recording strategies must include an analysis of methods to best comply with regulations and standards to prevent or more accurately limit exposure and illicit acquisition of corporate, customer and employee data. This issue also feeds back into customer retention; few events are more damaging to a company’s goodwill and sales than having its customers’ data exposed through failing to follow the laws and procedures aimed at protecting them.
One of the most important of these rules is the PCI-DSS 3.2 standard, which it says prohibits storing any sensitive authentication data, including card validation codes and values after payment authorization even if encrypted. It also bans using any digital audio recording after payment card approvals. Where technology exists to prevent recording of these data elements it should be enabled. If these recordings cannot be data mined, storage of card validation codes and values after authorization may be permissible as long as appropriate validation has been performed. The physical and logical protections defined in that standard must still be applied to these call recording formats.
Another key regulation is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It requires organizations to safeguard patients’ health information from unauthorized access. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama March 23 that will enable some 32 million more Americans to afford health care will also create much more data that must be protected in compliance with HIPAA regulations.
“The burden of responsibility for ensuring compliance standards are met lies in the hands of each organization, however, there are a number of ways that recording solutions can enable customers to become or stay compliant and/or do not prevent them from being able to meet certain policies,” says Aspect (News - Alert) product marketing manager Kathy Krucek.
“The main areas of how recording solutions do that is through providing security around recordings via encryption and providing the ability to not record sensitive information (e.g. for PCI DSS compliance). Also, by providing various storage/archiving strategies to allow organizations to keep recordings for a period of time and then automatically being able to purge them where they are required to do so after X number of days (e.g. for HIPAA compliance). Each organization must understand their own industry guidelines and company legal and HR policies to evaluate recording solutions that ensure these can be met.”
One route to consider is going above what is stated in the regulations and standards, which are in most cases are the minimum stipulations to enable these rules’ goals to be accomplished. Jim Shulkin, director of marketing, Envision Telephony points out that in the case of PCI-DSS 3.2 if a contact center routinely requests card verification codes then one potential best practice is to pause the recordings to prevent this data from being captured. Yet even if the codes are not recorded centers should consider recording file encryption, routine deletion of recordings when permissible and keeping a record of all those who play recordings. In some cases organizations have even put monitor screen guards in place to prevent data from being visible to others on the call floor. Pausing or deleting recordings is not always realistic, he points out though, as many organizations and industries have their own regulations prohibiting the deletion or alteration--removing the sensitive data--of these records.
“The PCI DSS specifically dealing with call center recordings is evolving as the technologies to both query the data and reasonably secure it becomes more mainstream and widely attainable,” says Shulkin. “Plus, many brand-conscious companies that are bound to PCI compliance prefer to go above and beyond the stated standards where possible in order to insure customer data protection to their own higher corporate standard.”
Out of Center Recordings
Recording interactions is no longer just for contact centers. Increasingly these tools are being deployed in other parts of enterprises, reports Ray Bohac, president and CEO, CallCopy.
Accounts receivable, legal, sales and senior executives are realizing the value in recording their interactions. Their reasons include proof of promise-to-pay, identifying ways to increase conversion rates or up-sell opportunities, compliance and risk management and simply wanting records of conversations.
There are a few differences between in-center and out-of-center recordings Bohac points out. At the most basic level, the applications used outside of contact centers are the same as those inside it. Where they differ is how they are used. For example sales teams can perform peer reviews of sales calls or presentations through call recording playbacks.
Out of center recordings use the same recording hardware and software as for contact center recordings but that depends on the organization. CallCopy has implemented solutions for organizations that wanted to maintain all recording on a single system, and are able to maintain separation between groups including customizable permissions and audit trails. Others prefer to use a separate hardware/software instance in the cloud.
When considering recording non-contact center calls, Bohac recommends getting full buy-in from all affected groups. Stress the benefits that each will receive by having access to recorded transactions to improve processes, drive efficiencies and mitigate business risk and liability. Consider on-demand recording as it can help avoid any feeling of “big-brother” watching. Also consider how other traditional contact center technologies, such as speech analytics and work-at-home capabilities can benefit the various groups.
“Advances in speech analytics technology have made it much easier to extract business intelligence from the abundance of interaction data via recordings,” says Bohac. “In addition, as telecommuting grows in popularity, having another managerial touch point and/or the ability to record interactions are a plus.”
Call recording strategies must also incorporate, and be incorporated, into those of other channels so that organizations can have a complete view and access to customers interactions. While these other methods: chat, e-mail, SMS, IVR and speech self and Web self-service still rank below voice as communications methods their use is increasing.
“I’m not seeing much true multichannel integration yet but it will happen as software suites broaden and organizational maturity increases,” says Davies.
Kristyn Emenecker, solutions marketing director, Verint (News - Alert) Witness Actionable Solutions says multichannel interactions bring together new dynamics between traditional screen recording and desktop analytics. For instance, it allows taking desktop analytics and trigger recordings of specific events such as an e-mail or text chat. It can also take key information from the screens such as transaction amounts, customer account numbers or other pieces of information and tags them to the recordings.
“With having more complete data to analyze, we can then marry it up to all communications associated with those customers: including such vehicles as text messages and e-mail,” says Emenecker. “This makes the quality and analytics processes more inclusive of all customer channels.” CIS
The following companies participated in the preparation of this article:
Aspect - www.aspect.com
CallCopy - www.callcopy.com
Envision Telephony - www.envisioninc.com
NICE - www.nice.com
OAISYS - www.oaisys.com
TelStrat - www.telstrat.com
Verint - www.verint.com
The HD Strategy
As contact centers move into the IP environment with new recording solutions they should also look down the road at preparing to handle HD/wideband voice. This new mode promises to greatly improve communication with customers
by hearing more what they are saying and in doing so obtaining literally unheard of information via recordings. It permits for example agents to distinguish between similar-sounding names and syllables much easier. These features will reduce talk time, repeat calls, call costs and boost customer
“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,” says Ed Templeman (News - Alert), director of marketing, TelStrat. “With 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.”
To date though, most HD voice is emerging in the area of walk-in retail centers or branches, reports Matt Storm, NICE Systems director of Americas Marketing. That is because each link: from the caller to the contact center agent must be in wideband HD – no PSTN – and to enable that outside the contact center to a consumer would be a challenge, akin to happened with TV when it went to HD.
“Until this takes shape outside the contact center to provide true end-to-end HD, we will continue to see very little of this in the industry,” says Storm.
While given current economic conditions, HD implementation time scale is likely three to five years, but recording vendors and customers would do well to be ready, Templeman points out. The impact of HD voice will be felt in increased network configuration, processing horsepower, and recording storage and archiving requirements, and in resulting costs. While more sophisticated compression algorithms will alleviate most of the burden, doubling the sampling rate and the frequency range means every part of a contact center’s network must HD-capable.
Given the cost and complexity contact centers should start now by making sure their PBX vendors supports the G.722 wideband speech codec standard at a minimum and/or can easily add support for future codecs, recommends Templeman. Key suppliers such as Avaya (News - Alert) and Cisco others now incorporate them in their telephony offerings. Contact centers should also make sure that HD-compatible phoneset offerings are available. When choosing recording solutions, they need look to vendors that are certified developers on HD-capable PBX platforms, have flexible, easily upgradable solutions, and have a history of reacting quickly to market demands.
“The true value of HD voice can only be realized when all portions of the network such as the PBXes, phones and recording systems support wideband,” says Templeman. “Even something as seemingly unimportant as a handset speaker can affect the result: if it was designed to match the limits of PSTN frequency response.”
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.