September 07, 2010
Call Recording the Experiences
By Brendan B. Read, Senior Contributing Editor
Today’s call recordings solutions can make a difference in contact centers, whether the rationales for choosing them are to replace outmoded tools and to accommodate expansion and/or boost customer satisfaction, bolster quality assurance, compliance and dispute resolution. The following examples illustrate just that.
Old School, New Recording Technologies
Call recording is a vital tool for healthcare providers, enabling them to provide and ensure quality service and resolve disputes; they must comply with stringent regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which means they must be kept up to date along with the other technologies used in these facilities.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), whose heritage includes becoming the nation’s first school of medicine, in 1765 and the first teaching hospital, in 1874, has a network of hospitals, university school of medicine, medical centers, outpatient facilities, clinical practices, primary care physicians and specialists.
In 2007 UPHS examined its network of six existing and planned contact centers, each with its own needs, and realized that it needed new call monitoring and recording solutions for them:
• A 220 seat center, handling over six million calls annually for appointments, completion of intake questionnaires, or transfers, was moving to a new location and needed new equipment and technology.
• A 100 seat center, which fields calls for specific hospitals, needed an emergency replacement as its technology was becoming unreliable.
• A 125 seat center, which serves clinical offices of approximately 20 different practices, needed to replace its PBX that did not have quality monitoring or recording capabilities.
• One 50 seat center, whose agents scheduled patients, needed emergency replacement. Its recording platform was at end of life and needed a reliable platform for HIPAA compliance.
• Another 50 seat center at one of the hospitals required a technology platform upgrade to include quality monitoring and reporting.
• A 50 seat center that is new construction, with planned expansion to 125 seats, for expanding clinical practice specialties required quality monitoring and reporting.
In early 2008, UPHS issued an RFP for a new set of recording solutions for deployment during fiscal 2009-2011. It turned to dvsAnalytics and its Encore call recording and quality management product. The healthcare organization found the solution to be the most user-friendly overall as it easily ran scheduled and custom reports, and was simple to locate stored records on for quick playback.
“As our research continued, we realized how the Encore reporting and quality management capabilities could leverage the overall effectiveness of operator and patient scheduling operations,” recounts Dominick DiPietro, UPHS corporate director, telecommunications.
With disparate types of technology across multiple sites, typically there would be integration challenges. Fortunately, Encore’s built in CTI (News - Alert) links for both VoIP and TDM allowed for challenge free implementations in all but one site. The site that posed the challenge had an aged switch, not supported by standard CTI integrations.
“However, dvsAnalytics responded with a solution, modified its standard integration to work in our environment and successfully completed the project within 30 days,” says DiPietro.
The dvsAnalytics solution, in its staged deployment is proving successful. UPHS, like other dvsAnalytics customers, receives regular software upgrades and plans to use these added capabilities such as encryption enhancements for HIPAA compliance, expanded agent and team performance reporting, SNMP alerts and additions to the Avaya integration interface to increase standardization across the various business units.
“Due to dvsAnalytics’ ability to meet our requirements and time frames, our plans have remained on schedule with no changes,” reports DiPietro. “We are looking forward to their new releases of best practice evaluation templates, expanded global search capabilities, enhanced reporting and speech and desktop analytics.”
Giving an Edge in Improving Customer Experience
Few markets are as competitive as wireless communications. There call recordings and quality monitoring can give savvy operators an edge by closely listening and responding to customers, thereby successfully retaining, cross-selling and upselling to them and equally as importantly, inciting them to become raving fans via social media. Recording solutions can also permit performance tweaking that shaves costs and keeps prices competitive and profits compelling.
O2 Ireland is that country’s leading wireless provider mobile communications provider. A wholly owned subsidiary of O2 plc, it has a 400-seat contact center handling three million inbound and outbound calls per year from and to its approximately 1.57 million Irish customers. O2 Ireland wanted to improve and excel its overall customer experience, allowing team leaders to evaluate, score and learn from each customer call quickly and with detailed intelligence. The firm needed a solution that would support a customer segmentation process by providing accurate customer intelligence to its managers, team leaders and agents based on calls received.
In 2008, the company researched and then selected Verint Impact 360. It says the solution would enable it to better understand and respond to customer requirements quickly and efficiently through the use of detailed voice and data capture. The wireless provider could also boost first call resolution that would reduce costs and heighten customer satisfaction. Impact 360 was also picked to support the introduction of a more calibrated and efficient staffing coaching and training.
To successfully implement the solution O2 Ireland worked in partnership with Verint Consulting by participating in a “Performance Optimization Workshop,” which links corporate, contact centers, agents and strategic objectives to a comprehensive evaluation form. This helped the firm decide on which areas to concentrate so it can deliver high quality customer experience. The output was a detailed evaluation form for the business, plus a definitions document, which clearly defined measurable skills and behaviors, as well as a blueprint for building the processes required to support its quality initiatives.
The definitions document provided specific examples for agents and team leaders to refer to during the coaching process. With implementing Impact 360, O2 Ireland refined the agent coaching process, and increased training focus and effectiveness through calibrated call evaluations for agents. Additionally, it aligned corporate, contact center, agent and customer objectives in a comprehensive evaluation form and detailed definitions document.
The investment was such a success that in six months, O2 Ireland launched a “Call of the Month” program. The company now evaluates calls as part of the normal review process.
Exemplary, or “best practice,” calls are submitted monthly to a team comprised of agents, team leaders and HR. Awards are then presented to three or four agents for outstanding performance. With Impact 360 both the agents and team leaders can easily select calls to replay and evaluate, and consistently coach other staff on how to deliver the “wow” factor to customers.
Enabling Quality Service in Tough Times
The economic downturn has hurt both consumers and firms providing financial services alike. By hearing out their clients and responding to their needs via cost-effective recording solutions, savvy companies generate both loyalty and profits that can only grow when times get better.
Benefit Consultants Group (BCG), located in Delran, N.J., is a third-party administrator serving the financial services industry for 50 years. BCG has over 125 employees with seven to 12 contact center agents, depending on volume.
In 2008 BCG was looking to deliver to their customers a superior level of customer service and make these traumatic times a little easier for their clients to handle, reports BCG CEO Bob Paglione. At the time, the firm did not have a solution for recording calls and costs were a big concern of implementing such a system. They were looking for one that could record calls but also have the flexibility to move the call recording option to various phones throughout their business; cost was an issue as was also recording ease of use and retrieval. BCG looked at several outside call recording products, but found they were very expensive.
Seeing that it already had an Alteva hosted VoIP phone system all what BCG had to do was enter a ticket to have the recording platform added and provide Alteva (News - Alert) with the phone numbers that BCG wanted on the platform. Alteva also integrated with Salesforce.com, its CRM application.
The Alteva solution offers easy-to-use Web interfaces, filters, descriptions and comment annotation that provides users with tools to quickly find recorded calls says BCG. Recordings are easily accessible; they are transcoded into the MP3 format, and are viewed and accessed via standard Web browsers and media players. Recorded calls required for legal, regulatory or compliance purposes can be easily transferred from the SmartRecord IP system to the user’s system individually or in batches. No hardware and software were required.
“Alteva’s solution allowed us to monitor calls that led to a better and improved quality of our service to our clients,” says Paglione. “Alteva Archive uses a toll free number to enable users of any phone to record their calls anytime, from any location. Call recording is a reliable service that comes with limitless, secure storage of user recordings and easy-to-use tools to manage the recorded files that can be accessed any time.”
STOPing Crime with Recording
“Crime never takes a vacation and we must always be available for our customers,” says Kevin Laugherty, who is director of product support at Satellite Tracking of People (STOP). STOP, headquartered in Houston, Texas offers a comprehensive monitoring system for government agencies tasked with supervising adult and juvenile enrollees in the community. Consequently, the company’s contact center, which has 20 agents, is open for business 24/7, handling approximately 350 incoming and outgoing calls daily. Their tasks range from order taking and basic troubleshooting and advanced technical support to supplying urgent outreach to emergency services agencies. Examples of the latter include providing notification that an enrollee has crossed a designated boundary into a prohibited geographical area or contacting an enrollee directly to warn of potential rule violations.
That being there means STOP needed to record 100 percent of its calls. Yet it was using an outsourced recording solution that was proving to be cumbersome, making it difficult to quickly locate and play back call recordings.
“The outsourced solution would automatically send us e-mails containing just the date and time of the call, along with attached audio files,” explains Laugherty. “If we needed to find a specific call though we would have to go through all the e-mails that were sent to us around the time and listen to them until the correct call was identified, which was often a long, tedious process.”
The outsourced recording solution also made it hard for the company to successfully pursue an effective quality assurance (QA) program.
“It was very difficult to conduct quality evaluations on our agents,” explained Laugherty. “Our supervisors could spend two or three days doing nothing but scouring e-mails for calls, saving the calls, printing off scoring sheets, manually completing evaluations, and calculating scores. It wasn’t productive and was very laborious.”
STOP began searching for a replacement solution in April 2009. In addition to full time call recording, the company also wanted a product that already included or could easily upgrade to add screen recording and analytics capabilities in the future. And after carefully evaluating a variety of call recording products currently available, STOP selected VPI’s VPI QUALITY in January 2010.
“The flexibility of the solution was a major factor in our decision to implement VPI QUALITY,” says Laugherty.
“We weren’t locked into anything. Other vendors wanted us to use their hardware, which wasn’t server class. With VPI, we could provide our own hardware. In addition, with the VPI system we could store our recordings on our enterprise storage system: a requirement that many other vendors couldn’t accommodate. Some vendors could archive, but could not keep all files available for searching. With VPI, we can do both. Price was also a major consideration and VPI was able to demonstrate a very strong value proposition.”
Shortly after being selected, VPI project manager began overseeing the implementation; installation was completed in March, 2010, and remote training took place in early April 2010. At the same time STOP was simultaneously implementing a new Mitel (News - Alert) phone system for its offices and contact center. VPI is Mitel-certified and approved: a key factor also in its selection. The firm did not have to make any changes to its phone system and could seamlessly integrate both new systems, which helped it provide continuous service to its customers.
In a few short months since roll-out VPI Quality has already been generating returns. STOP’s laborious, time-consuming searches through e-mails for call recordings are now a thing of the past. Random calls are automatically delivered to managers for review along with the QA form and the total is calculated.
STOP staff can now see via the solution’s QA statistics, how many calls were reviewed, where are the areas that need training improvements and where are the areas where it is strong and can share with other departments.
“In addition to contractual compliance, for us, 100 percent recording is important for liability and the safety of our employees,” reports Laugherty. “For example, if an agent contacts an enrollee to tell them the battery of their monitoring device is low and needs to be charged and the enrollee subsequently becomes threatening and abusive, we can contact the appropriate parties to address the situation.”
Recording the receivables, and service
Accounts receivable management, a.k.a. collections and customer service, are two of the most intense functions firms can provide via their contact centers.
In each of these areas there is the potential and the reality for often emotionally-intensive “I said/they said” conflicts, and in collections there is also the need to comply with strict regulations. That requires high-quality and flexible call recording solutions.
Penncro Associates is a multi-site financial services company that specializes in accounts receivable management and customer relationship management for clients. Headquartered in Southampton, Penn., it has four contact centers with approximately 400 licensed agents.
In 2006 Penncro turned to Noble Systems (News - Alert) and selected the Noble Recorder as its call recording solution. Carolynn Horrell, Penncro’s chief information officer of technology solutions, explained that the company had a need for one for compliance, training and quality assurance reasons.
Prior to installing the Noble Recorder it had no recording solution to speak of. The firm selected the Noble Recorder in large as it had been using Noble Systems’ Noble Solution for its contact centers since 1999.
Penncro uses the Noble Recorder for tasks such as delivering feedback to clients and to agents, improving internal processes and validating payment accuracy. It works by digitally recording agent calls and producing a high-quality online record within seconds. The file is then organized for storage. The record is archived within minutes and can be easily accessed with a log number for instant playback. Clients use their own log numbers, so that along with the use of interactive voice response tools, they can dial in and listen to their own recordings without the need for an outsourced third party verification service, which saves them time and reduces costs. The recorder also includes integrated quality assurance features that help companies build quality management programs.
“There are multitudes of reasons to leverage that recording,” explains Horrell. “Along with really making sure we’re doing the branding and are listening from a client standpoint.”
The Noble Recorder has made a difference in Penncro’s operations. It has enabled the firm to improve its collections by enhancing agent training, helping the company maintain compliance and resolving customer disputes. Horrell reports there have been times when customers have authorized a payment only to later come back and dispute it. Having the Noble Recorder allowed Penncro’s managers to go back to specific recorded conversations and verify that the payments were, in fact, authorized.
The recorder allows Penncro’s management team to review calls quickly and efficiently. During the review, managers look for average call duration, short calls, and long calls in order to locate outliers. Through this review process, they found what things are working well and where there is room for improvement.
“So you’re hearing the effects of your training and then you’re able to see how well your training has been transitioned to your floor,” says Horrell.
Horrell adds the screens of the recording solution provide ease of access in that there are a number of ways an account can be looked up and accessed.
“So there’s really quite a bit of ease and flexibility in looking for an account,” she says. “And when you’re researching something, it’s really critical that you have multiple elements to be able to hone in on and find that ‘needle in a haystack’ or that specific call.”
Penncro is now considering adding speech analytics to the Noble Recording solution. Powered by Nexidia (News - Alert) it would enable the firm to gain actionable business intelligence and make it possible to analyze call recordings to spot trends, identify the underlying reasons for customer calls, improve quality assurance, measure script adherence and determine training needs. The analytics tool uses the patented Phonetic Search Engine that enables an audio-video search for phonemes, the smallest unit of human speech that produces accurate and relevant results.
Horrell says from a business perspective the Noble Recorder is “meeting its mark” with the features and functionality available. And then speech analytics would take it to the next level, opening contact center operations up to a whole new and innovative way to use call recording and review.
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi