Beginners Guide To Recording


On average 68% of customers’ first contact with any company is still via phone, according to the Gartner group. For those companies that record calls there is a wealth of information that can be extracted from these interactions.

Why record?

1. Staff training and development
It’s a competitive world and providing excellent customer service is paramount to commercial success. Recording and monitoring calls is one of the best ways to train and coach staff on how to handle calls effectively.

2. Protection and dispute avoidance/resolution
Protecting business interests by proving ‘who said what’ in a dispute can be vital, saving an organisation time and money. Recording telephone calls can also avoid the problems associated with inaccurate order taking, lost delivery details or disputes concerning pricing.

3. Compliance
In many sectors recording telephone conversations is mandatory to comply with government regulations. Similarly, are customers being compliant in terms of the information they supply when receiving insurance quotes over the telephone? Having recording in place may prevent fraudulent information being given in the first place, whilst giving the company a lasting record of what was said.

What’s available?

The technology available today is broad ranging, starting from entry-level desktop recorders for the small office user, right through to the larger enterprise-level applications and hosted solutions. Small office recording solutions provide very basic call recording by linking directly into a telephone handset or line and capturing calls to a PC or CD.

Moving up the scale, to multi-line recorders, these provide the ability to capture and store many more calls centrally onto a specialist server. The more sophisticated multi-line recorders enable organisations to search for particular calls by date, time, call duration or customer details (with some integration work to the CRM database). These systems make call scoring far more accurate, by helping to provide a more relevant sample of calls for evaluation.

Hosted Call Recording in comparison enables organisations to record calls without the need to install and maintain expensive capital equipment on their premises. Billed more as a service, recording in this way means that an organisation can pay-as-they-go or on a usage or subscription basis.

Calculating your Return On Investment

With careful planning, system payback can typically be achieved in about nine months. When reviewing how to calculate your return on investment, you should factor in the following areas:

  • Increases in sales revenue from telephone transactions or improved sales techniques
  • Increases in first-time resolution due to improved customer service skills
  • Reduction in call handling times due to improved product knowledge
  • Increased efficiency: fewer agents can handle more calls in the same period
  • Recording identifies targeted training needs, which can result in reduced training costs
  • Company liability can be protected by proving call content to resolve disputes

Selecting a recording system

There are many considerations impacting choice when selecting a recording system. The following points should help you identify the type of solution you will need.

1. How many people do you want to record?
Are you recording everyone or just those in the contact centre, or those performing a specific task or operation?

2. Trunk-side versus extension-side recording
If you choose to record on the extension or internal side of the system then you will follow the agents’ conversations. Trunk-side highlights the customer side of their contact with your business. If you opt for extension-side recording then the type of PABX, ACD or call centre you are using becomes an important factor.

3. Do you operate a free-seating policy?
Where “free-seating” agents are employed, tracking and recovering calls to a specific agent becomes more complex. The recording needs flags and identification, so calls can be linked to agents, agent PINS or extension numbers. The indexing of calls and their retrieval from the storage source will then require the use of a PABX CTI link.

4. Do you require online storage and, if so, how much?
How quickly do you need to retrieve a recording? Speed of retrieval is dependent on how far back into the archival records a call has been recorded. While the call index can quickly identify which recorder, and even which tape to install into the recorder, the access time will include the physical act of finding the relevant tape and inserting it into the recorder. For calls that are still resident in the online hard disc storage the access time can be no more than a few seconds.

5. How long do you need to archive recordings for?
How long do you maintain your current logs and call transcripts for? Is it a requirement to do so?

6. How important is it to you if you lose recordings due to a system fault?
Does it actually matter if you lose recordings? If yes, what level of resilience or redundancy would be sufficient?

7. Remote access
Do you record telephone calls at more than one site or do you plan to do so in the future? Do you require the ability to locate, retrieve and play back calls from any site to a central site? If telephone calls are recorded at one site only do you want the ability to locate, retrieve and play back calls at a remote site/office?

8. Channel selection
Digital voice recorders have the ability to select individuals or teams of workers, staff IDs or extension numbers only to be recorded over a specified period, thereby drastically reducing the number of channels to be recorded. Would channel selection provide a more cost-effective solution to your voice recording needs?

9. Maintenance
Have you thought about maintenance and administration of the system once it is installed? It should not just be viewed as a passive piece of equipment. Problems often occur when moving office or extensions, adding users or upgrading/making changes on your switch. In some cases there is no longer a physical connection to the voice recording system but this still needs to be administered in the correct way to ensure problems do not occur.

10. Compatibility and integration
Voice recording systems are every bit as sophisticated and complex as their respective telephone systems and switches and so a good provider should be able to suggest a system that will be compatible with your existing infrastructure.

Purchasing a recording system

Once you have a clear idea of the type of system you want to invest in, there are a number of ways it can be acquired. For those organisations that prefer to have their system on site but still don’t want the upfront cost of acquiring it, many companies offer innovative financial arrangements for rentals, leasing and managed services.

Rentals should be considered for short-term recording requirements or as proof of concept when seeking buy-in! But don’t fall into the trap of turning the rental into a long-term practice, which, when calculated, shows that the system could have been purchased at less cost than the overall rental.

People, processes and training

People and processes should not be overlooked and technology should not be purchased in isolation from them. To get the most out of any voice recording system there should be a dedicated champion of the product. This person or team needs to understand how they can leverage the technology to deliver true business benefits and implement effective quality procedures. Training and consultancy can often help hone in on this and get everyone focused on the end result. If everything is done right at this stage significant financial returns and value can be gained.


Further Reading


Scott Miller, Business Systems.

Author: Jonty Pearce

Published On: 14th Mar 2010 - Last modified: 4th Jan 2023
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