Matching Recordings With Needs

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May 2010 | Volume 28 / Number 12
Call Center Technology

Matching Recordings With Needs

By Brendan B. Read,
Senior Contributing Editor

Call recordings are the ores of customer interactions. They contain vital customer service support, compliance, sales, collections, and agent and supervisor performance elements, which can be extracted by live monitoring and sophisticated speech analytics tools..

Yet with every cost being scrutinized by senior management,
obtaining call recording solutions entails a careful look at
the solutions, suppliers and delivery methods. Therefore to
make right recording choice you will need to balance your
needs with your resources. Fortunately there is an expanding
array of increasingly functional, affordable and flexible
wares and application methods from high-quality suppliers
to help you meet them.

Evolving Environments and Needs

If your contact center is moving, as many have, from TDM
to IP environments including SIP trunking, you will have to
switch out your old recorder, if it isn’t already IP-enabled, to
one that is. OAISYS’s (News - Alert) Talkument and Tracer call recording and
interaction management solutions now integrate directly with
SIP trunks to record calls. You can seamlessly capture call data
directly from the trunks, including outside party numbers,
start times and duration. You can also export call recordings
based on pre-defined business rules, using criteria such as call
durations or agents’ IDs, into speech analytics applications.

If you have or plan to buy Cisco Unified Communications
Manager, Telrex (News - Alert) has enabled its IP-based CallRex recording
software to support the solution using forked audio.
With forked audio, you would no longer have to set up port
mirroring within your telephony environment. A duplicate
audio stream is sent directly from the Cisco (News - Alert) IP phones to
the call recording server. Alternatively you can conduct call
recording with CallRex via packet-sniffing technology using
Cisco’s Skinny protocol.

If your firm is switching to virtual servers, which tap into
available computing power across multiple servers off one
hardware platform, there are recording solutions that can
function well in that environment. TelStrat, for one, has
adapted its Engage 3.2 solution to support Citrix, Microsoft (News - Alert)
Hyper-V and VMWare virtual servers.

Compliance, customer experience and quality and business
intelligence reasons may be driving your organization
to obtain 100 percent recording, as opposed to random
call sampling in the past. Technology improvements such
as less costly storage, smaller footprints and sophisticated
databases now make it more practical and affordable reports
Bruce Kaskey (News - Alert), co-founder, OrecX. He is already seeing 100
percent recording from his firm’s customers.

Yet before you launch 100 percent recording you should take
a close look at your switching and network environment. You
may have what KnoahSoft (News - Alert) president Ralph Barletta calls a
“heterogeneous environment” – one made up of products from
multiple vendors handling calls for centralized and perhaps
including satellite contact centers and for home agents.

“Calls can flow and are managed in a myriad of different
ways, each of which needs to be faithfully represented in a
comprehensive call recording engine to achieve 100 percent
coverage,” Barletta points out.

HD voice is coming down the pipeline for contact centers as
it enables greater voice range hence more natural sounding
acoustics compared with that delivered over TDM. It permits
agents to distinguish between similar-sounding names and
syllables much easier. These features reduces talk time, call
costs and boosts customer satisfaction. HD voice is also being
parceled as part of a unified communications strategy.

Should your organization be planning to deploy HD voice
they should factor in cost-adding network bandwidth and storage
plus more complex recording capture protocols and data
formats, Brian Spencer (News - Alert), president, OAISYS points out. His

firm’s products will be HD compatible as the standards around HD voice become prevalent and adopted within the market.

“Companies should evaluate the recording interfaces of their communications platforms,” says Spencer. “Many offer active connections to secure media streams for recording and some will recode the stream into an LD format such as G 729 that, while not having as high a fidelity, will suffice for the uses of the call recording system and drive a lower total cost of ownership.
If they don’t, firms should take a hard look at the various HD voice protocols that may be in use in your network and ensure that the recording solution does or will support them all. They should press any vendors to share their data management and storage requirements based on capturing HD voice and not the optimal, highly compressed formats that present lower total cost of ownership numbers in these areas.”

CallCopy (News - Alert) avoids the storage issue, says Ray Bohac, president
and CEO, by giving users the option to step down the recording quality prior to storage. If they are running speech analytics, it will fully index against the HD voice, and then run compression prior to storage, allowing users to save substantially on disc space.

“Calls can flow and are managed in a myriad different ways, each of which needs to be faithfully representedin a comprehensive call recording engine to achieve 100 percent coverage.”
– Ralph Barletta, KnoahSoft

Compliance Standards

There are strict compliance regulations and standards that many recordings must meet. One of these is the Payment Card Industry (PCI (News - Alert)) Data Security Standards (DSS) 3.2. It prohibits storing sensitive authentication data, including card validation codes and values, after authorization even if encrypted if that data can be queried i.e. mined. If these recordings cannot be mined, storage after authorization may be permissible as long as the appropriate validation has been performed in accordance with the standards.

There is an array of recording solutions that comply with PCI-DSS 3.2 for credit card information and which provide hardened security for other data types. dvsAnalytics’ Encore Voice Recording solution does not allow sensitive data to be queried and it removes all such portions. For example, when a credit card transaction occurs over the phone, Encore detects the event and inserts tabs into the recording where the sensitive information was provided. That portion of the call can be either immediately scrubbed, or encrypted and removed later. This feature enables organizations to remain in compliance while also retaining non-sensitive information, including customer names, account numbers and call result codes.

The VPI (Voice Print International (News - Alert)) CAPTURE PRO call recording solution uses desktop screen analytics to detect events and data directly from application screens, such as an employee entering sensitive credit card authentication data into a field on-screen and tags them to the recorded interactions. VPI CAPTURE PRO retains non-sensitive data and makes them available in interactive reports.

TelStrat ensures that the voice files used in coaching will also be encrypted. Engage Coach will be so capable in 2Q 2010; Engage Capture is already encryption-enabled.

NICE Smartcenter encrypts voice and screens as close as possible to the time of the information creation and to their physical locations to reduce potential security breaches and increase data security. Once encrypted, the media is kept encrypted throughout its lifecycle. Data is also written encrypted to local backup tapes, as well as to any NAS/SAN or CAS storage supported by NICE Storage Center.

KnoahSoft’s Harmony 3.0 includes Advanced Encryption Standard 256-bit encryption to protect recorded and archived data. AES 256-bit it says is the most reliable, efficient and strong encryption algorithm available.

Harmony 3.0 also features tight integration and synchronization with Active Directory for authentication and single sign-on. There is enhanced password policy setting, including automatic expiration, syntax settings and lockouts for unauthorized
passwords to protect against computer-generated password attacks and poor password selection and management
by employees. It also has, in addition to sensitive data elimination, audit trail information that helps trace and block system intrusion attempts and it can watermark recordings so that no recording tampering can occur.

Deployment Options

There are several call recording deployment choices. The principal one has been either to buy these solutions standalone or bundled into workforce optimization (WFO) suites. The former supplies best of breed and could be more cost effective as you may not need all of the features in the suites. The latter offers easier integration, management and support because these components have been tied together.

The suite approach appears to gaining marketplace traction; there are more offerings with enriched call recording applications available. One of these is Calabrio’s (News - Alert) One WFO suite, which includes two new applications: Calabrio Call Recording 8.0 and Calabrio Quality Management 8.0. The Calabrio Call Recording 8.0 offers a network-based recording architecture, live voice monitoring and role-based alerts. It also integrates into the Calabrio Speech Analytics.

There is another approach where recording and other WFO solutions such as quality monitoring and workforce management can be purchased and installed as easily-fit modules on anas-needed basis. These modular solutions are offered single-vendor or multi-vendor, whose participants have pre-integrated the pieces. For example OrecX’s solutions are available via modules.

An increasingly common alternative choice is premise-installed recordings versus those hosted, either by suppliers or by third-party firms. Premises-installed offers complete customization and control while hosted delivery avoids upfront capital costs and provides greater flexibility to add or subtract capacity in line with demands.

One premises-installed option is buying recording functionality bundled and pre-integrated into routing/switching platforms. Case in point: Interactive Intelligence’s (News - Alert) Interaction Recorder is built into the Interactive Intelligence Customer Interaction Center. It offers a full range of functionality including rules-based recording by entity, workgroup, role, or individual, screen recording and multimedia recording for calls, Web chats, e-mails and faxes.

Hosted call recording solutions are becoming more value-rich thanks to upgrades in their core engines. CyberTech International’s CyberTech Release 5.4 enables individual tenants to manage their recording system environments without depending on or waiting for third parties. It also offers full-featured agent evaluation, improved scoring rates, extended edit periods and added report types. The release also provides central management features, such as central configuration settings and configuration backup.

KnoahSoft’s Barletta cautions about acquiring vendor-hosted and switch-independent call recording solutions. He points out that trying to perform large scale hosted recording over WANs may be prohibitive from cost and performance perspectives. Instead if firms are going to have recordings hosted they should be on the same hosted platforms as the ACDs.

“A lot of contact centers want to move to IP but do not feel they have the IT knowledge to implement them and are looking
for companies that have expertise,” says Barletta.

Solution/Supplier Selection Best Practices

When buying and going live with call recording solutions, first, ask why you need to record (i.e. compliance, quality or risk), recommends Kaskey. Also find out what is the best and most effective way to record conversations. Then make sure the solutions can operate in your work environments. The only way to do that is to set up a test and run live.

“Demos, fancy sales literature and salespeople cannot duplicate or demonstrate how voice recording software will function in a live setting,” says Kaskey.

Jim Shulkin, director of marketing at Envision Telephony, recommends looking for a supplier that offers sought-after features and sophistication who delivers them in a solution that remains very intuitive and easy to use.

“Technology capability advancements unfortunately often go hand-in-hand with heightened complication and dedicated administration requirements,” Shulkin points out. “Maintaining usability and user-friendliness while delivering the promise of today’s recording and analytics capabilities, is key to organizations that don’t want their new investment in recording technology to go underutilized because it’s too hard to use.”

Small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are looking for call recording solutions should look for those that are scaled for them but which have all the features offered to enterprises, says Tony Procops, CEO of CyberTech North America. SMEs should also seek out those who are focused and experienced on serving them rather than as “also” to enterprise customers.

Fortunately there are more recording solutions that have been designed for that market. “The price to performance ratio has shifted, allowing us to provide feature-rich, easy-to-use and highly affordable call recording solutions to these customers,” says OAISYS’ Spencer.

CallCopy’s Ray Bohac says contact centers should be wary if a vendor does not consult with them prior to proposing a solution; one size does not fit all. Centers should focus on their specific needs and evaluate vendors based on them to avoid “functional overkill,” such as being swamped with talk of unnecessary features. They should also ask vendors to speak with multiple references, ideally ones that are similar to their centers in size and implementation.

KnoahSoft’s Barletta recommends that companies look for suppliers who have excellent track records for and can demonstrate affordability, flexibility, scalability and upgradability. They should also have strong integration capabilities, such as for linking recordings with external data sources such as customer satisfaction surveys and dashboards. At the same time suppliers should have a clear roadmap of where they want to go, such as social media, speech analytics and UC.

“Price will always be an issue when choosing solutions and vendors but it should be price in the context of a comprehensive suite of applications,” says Barletta. “And those vendors should be conscious of, and stay on top of trends so that when these technologies are ready for prime time your vendor partner avoids having to consider switching vendors down the road.”

The following companies participated in the preparation of this article:


CallCopy (News - Alert) TelecommunicationsLaboratories

Cyber-Tech International


Envision Telephony


Interactive Intelligence













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