For the past decade, there has been increasing desire within contact centres to improve upon customer satisfaction and experience, in order to keep customers loyal and profitable for longer.
Increasing customer satisfaction is consistently the no.1 focus of UK contact centres, outperforming other key areas such as decreasing costs or increasing sales.
Call recording and monitoring may have been around for a long time, but it is at the forefront of the battle to improve quality and thus customer satisfaction and loyalty. Sophisticated call recording solutions have the tools within them to recognise patterns and anomalies, allowing management to identify the issues that are impacting customer service, and to deal with them at an agent or process level.
Such recording solutions record every call that comes in and analyse them on an agent- or subject-level to identify areas for immediate action, such as whether it is a training issue, a process issue or a product issue.
This real-time analysis and, of course, the actions leading from it, can mean that customers’ hold time and call time is shorter because of increased agent efficiency, and customers call less often about processes that have been fixed as a result of the new system. Agent performance also improves as a result of the identification of training needs.
Effectively, the call recording and analytics can act as an exceptionally well-informed and alert team leader who can oversee the entire operation instantaneously, which is vital, as supervisors are struggling under the mass of tasks they have and need something to keep them organised, and contact centres need something to monitor the supervisors and, of course, prove compliance.
However, most contact centres still find themselves managing quality assurance (QA) with paper-based processes and bulging filing cabinets. Leading call recording solutions have the capabilities to allow QA scoring to be performed retrospectively as well as by listening in live, with automated scheduling of QA assessments, management of compliance obligations (with audit trails), leading to less reliance on paper forms stored in filing cabinets.
Agents can feed back and comment on their assessments, including requesting more training.
Management can use dashboards to give visibility of QA and operational performance by campaign or agent, quickly identifying non-compliant calls and assisting with coaching and appraisals.
Recording and analysing the effectiveness of interactions is a vital part of the customer satisfaction and quality mix, especially when it is used for multiple purposes – training, educating the upper management about what customers are saying, and for quality assurance. Agents have to be encouraged to feel that recording is there for their own benefit, improving the standard of service which they provide, rather than just being a “Big Brother” waiting to catch them out.
Call recording solutions help resolve HR issues, by:
- Reducing supervision time, by allowing the supervisor to choose which calls to review at a time which suits them
- Increasing the effectiveness of agent training
- Demonstrating the investment a company makes in its agents to reduce attrition and the cost of employing and training new agents
- Rewarding agents based upon customer-focused metrics, which creates a better culture in the contact centre and serves customers more effectively.
Call recording solutions help profitability, by:
- Managing costs and improving operations through reducing the paper trail
- Measuring agent and contact centre performance based upon key performance indicators which the business chooses, e.g. average revenues per call, customer satisfaction rating, etc.
- Changing the culture of the contact centre towards balancing concerns of cost with loyalty and satisfaction, which interaction recording allows a business to measure
- Feeding back into the whole enterprise, allowing knowledge transfer to occur rapidly enough to change a business’s direction immediately based on actual customer responses.
Call recording solutions can improve customer loyalty, by:
- Measuring the contact centre performance against metrics which matter to the customer, which will align customer demand with contact centre success
- Recording all interactions and analysing them in depth means business processes can be improved and customer response acted upon immediately
- Best agent practice can be identified and shared rapidly, and worst practice avoided
- Reasons for poor responses to sales and marketing campaigns or product launches can be identified quickly based upon detailed analysis of specific areas.
Using call recording to its best advantage
Call recording needn’t be about striking fear into the hearts of contact centre staff and punishing them for offering poor levels of service. As Alex Coxon finds out, the very best implementations are those that are agent-friendly.
Voice recording has come a long way from the tape spools of yesteryear. Today’s systems don’t simply allow managers to sit at their computers, bring up a customer account and replay the latest conversation with that person. Rather, they can drill down to the tiniest detail, spotting where a single word has been used correctly or incorrectly, and employing speech analytics to ascertain whether voices have been raised or if the agent was doing all of the talking in a particular conversation.
Having traditionally been a ‘grudge’ purchase – something that needed to be bought for compliance reasons or to satisfy the board that customer service is being offered at a consistent level – today’s call recording technology can be a much more valuable asset. From spotting call trends that could identify problems with a specific product or distribution channel through to enhancing training when integrated with performance management components, call recording can even be used to tape contacts going through an interactive voice response (IVR) system, thereby giving managers the opportunity to streamline and enhance self-service as they see fit.
“As a manager, the value you can now get out of these tools is much greater than it has ever been,” explains Rob Wint, marketing director EMEA at technology provider Verint. “They give you much more of an understanding about what’s going on in conversations. So instead of simply focusing on what’s being said, they help you to consider how what’s being said affects your business, revealing service problems that customers aren’t necessarily bringing to you in the form of complaints, and identifying if there is a particular product issue or business process change within a conversation that needs to be captured.”
But it’s not only managers and customer service that can benefit from these systems. Some of the best implementations – far from being viewed as Big Brother-esque tools designed to oppress agents – have been well received by ground-level staff, too.
“When quality assurance and training staff work together to evaluate calls and tailor training accordingly, this can produce a very positive atmosphere for agents,” says Dudley Larus, vice president for global marketing at solutions provider Amcat. “These forward-thinking call centres implement a quality process that isn’t punitive. They undertake regular reviews that aren’t focused on finding problems with a specific agent’s approach, but rather on working out how service might be improved across the board. They then use coaching to positively reinforce that message.
“The best use of call recording is when it’s part of a programme where a company wants to learn as much about itself as about what its agents are doing,” he adds. “Agents don’t exist in a vacuum, after all. They only exist in the environment that the company has set up for them.”
Steps to making things better
So what can call centre companies do to make sure they use voice recording to its best advantage?
Firstly, it’s not a good idea to consider using call recording for call recording’s sake. Instead, commit yourself to the goal of understanding what constitutes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ calls, determining why those calls are happening and then doing something about it through either agent training or business process remodelling. If you are planning to implement call recording, or are using it, to weed out ‘bad’ agents or only because it needs to be there for legal reasons, you simply won’t get the maximum benefit.
“Look on implementing call recording and the additional quality monitoring tools as a change programme,” advises Wint. “If you only view it as something that must be there for compliance purposes, then you won’t achieve return on investment (ROI) anywhere near as quickly.”
Secondly, consider giving your agents access to the call recording system. “What a lot of call centres don’t do at the moment – but something that we advocate – is to let agents utilise the voice recording directly,” says Paul Manyweathers, managing director at technology supplier Activa.
“So many businesses implementing voice recording see it as a management tool and dictate that it is to be used by management only, therefore giving only managers the opportunity to recall conversations,” he adds. “But we’ve seen some huge benefits when agents have been given access to their own calls. They start to recognise on a personal level where they’re going wrong in their call handling technique, and will also be able to build on the techniques they’ve employed in particularly good calls.”
Finally, whether you give agents direct access to their calls or not, do try to let them formally self-evaluate.
“How many times do you hear ‘I never knew I sounded like that’, from an agent?” says Manyweathers. “By giving them the opportunity to formally self-evaluate, they will be able to note whether they took all the information down correctly, whether they really should have escalated a problem to their manager, and sometimes whether they need to call the customer back in order to enhance that experience.
“What’s more, by giving them a score sheet on their own performance, agents can compare that evaluation with one from the supervisor. This will help build rapport and confidence not only in the technology, but also in the whole quality process. Essentially, it gives agents ownership of their own improvement.”
- Steve Morrell of ContactBabel
- Rob Wint of Verint