By Steve Martin
Who are your best agents? Do you know? Are you sure? Do your best agents (at least the ones you think are your best) have the longest or shortest handle time? Does handle time even have anything to do with the level of service provided to your callers? If these are your best agents, do they handle all calls with the same level of competency? Do they close all sales and always upsell and cross sell? How can you share their skills with the rest of your agent population? This is just an incredibly small portion of your business that will open up with call recording.
But what should you record? Everything? A sample? Should you give agents the ability to record-on-demand? The answer all depends.
What do you want to measure? Do you need to have all calls available, just in case, or will a random sample be enough? What data do you need to have indexed to those calls? What would you like to have indexed to the calls? It may be easy and sometimes it’s cheap or even free.
Call recording systems can provide virtually any type of recording you may need, although not all systems can provide all types (for instance, total, sample, record-on-demand, selective, business rules driven). Your telephony environment also affects how a system can be implemented as well. However, there are always ways to get what you want. Just be sure that whomever you talk to listens to your complete list of requirements before they launch into the benefits of their system. Be sure you discuss the benefits of each type of recording in your application. Don’t be afraid of paying for total recording; in many cases it is less expensive then random sampling.
Your contact should be able to fully describe the integration without too much change to your existing systems. For example, if you don’t have a Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) package, then you shouldn’t have to get it; there shouldn’t be additional wires sitting on your agents’ desk or filling your IT department with servers. If they can’t break it down to terms that you can get your arms around, thank them for their time and move on. It’s not that complicated.
If you already have a recording platform in place but want to incorporate a quality package, your current provider may be able to supply it. If not, there are packages available that can be added to any existing recording package. Some may not totally integrate with your recording platform, others may. Some items a quality package needs to include to produce actionable results include:
- Customizable forms that will enable you to incorporate your existing quality evaluation (you are using one, right?).
- The ability to grade questions by yes/no, pick list, sliding scale, or text to accurately evaluate a specific skill.
- The ability to weight questions/sections.
- Subsection scoring to target general skill sets for training. Subsections also break down the call into manageable pieces.
- A reporting package (graphical display of data, relevant templates, and trending reports).
- The ability to deliver results to your agents, in a timely manner.
Regarding the output of a recording system, how do you benefit from it? Regardless of whether your center is an inbound, outbound, or blended environment, the skill and knowledge level of your agents affect every metric in your call center. Improving the skill and knowledge level of your agents will positively impact each and every metric including:
- Handle time
- Time in queue
- Customer satisfaction
- Service level
- Hold time
- First call resolution
- Call escalations
- Agent retention
- Whatever else you measure
Keep in mind that there is more to this process than just recording and evaluating agents’ interactions. If you record calls and have your supervisors or quality staff evaluate them, don’t stop there. At this point, you have only collect data and parked it. This is where the real power of the system is realized. Now you need to be able to pull that data in a format that means something to you and deliver it to someone empowered to act on it. Who needs training?
But that’s not all. There is a wealth of information here. These are callers. What are they saying? If you listen, you will be able to:
- Proactively address developing trends
- Better understand callers and their issues
- Enhancement your service or your clients’ businesses
- Adopt process changes (reducing handle time and maybe even call load)
- React to new features and services
- Comment about competition
- Develop better, more targeted training
Indexing calls with caller data can provide great information that can be shared across the entire enterprise. Plus, if management or clients want to hear what callers are saying, it is easy to access and play.
The great thing about this information is that it is real. No third party survey, no questionnaire, just callers talking to your agents. Listen to your agents’ tone of voice, what are they asking? What are they saying about your call center and services? In their words, where does your company really stand with them? Now you got something really useful!
[For vendor information, see Call Recording / Voice Logging Software.]
Steve Martin is President of RedLetter which helps small and mid-sized centers obtain recording, quality monitoring, and workforce management systems for their specific application. He can be reached at 513-575-3680.
[From Connection Magazine – September 2005]