Call recording for business

January 8, 2008

Helping call representatives improve: Step by step tutorial

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 1:07 am

Almost every business has employees that use the phone to interface with customers. These employees represent your company to your customers and the better job they do at making customers happy, the more loyal customers you will have. So how can you help your call representatives improve?

I’ll show you 3 ways to do this using a call recording system. I’m using VS Logger3.2, call recording software from Versadial in this example. These are simple methods for using a call recorder to improve your company’s customer service:

  1. Email example recordings to your call reps.
  2. Let call reps access their own recordings with custom notes.
  3. Use a grading system to help call reps improve systematically.

First you can email example recordings to your call reps. This is the simplest way to start. Simply have a supervisor or a senior call representative search through your call recordings every few days or weeks and find a good example of customer service. The recording you select should illustrate some aspect of good customer service and how you want things done. This call recording can then be emailed as a WAV file to all the call reps in your organization or department. This is a simple way to train your call reps on how things should be handled, and will also increase moral by giving praise to the call rep who’s recording was selected and creating a desire by others to be selected in the coming days or weeks. It can create positive competition among your employees for this recognition.

In VS Logger it’s easy to listen to all the call recordings for a particular date range…say in the last week, and then email a copy of a selected recording. In the screenshot below you can see a list of recordings in the left hand window. You just double click on one to listen to it. Once you’ve found your winner you simply click on the small letter icon in the top right and your email program will be opened with a WAV file of the recording exported and attached for you. Type in your message and send it to all your call reps in one easy step.

send recording as email

You can encourage more participation if you ask call reps to evaluate what they liked about the call. Or you could send out your top 3 recordings and ask them to vote for which one they think best represents good customer service. Here’s an example of VS Logger sending out the email with the WAV file attached. Note the small file size.

sending email

The second method is to give your call reps access to their own recordings and let them use custom notes. By doing this you let them review their own calls for information that might otherwise be forgotten, or entered wrong. In VS Logger a call rep could search through their own recordings, and add custom notes to important ones while they were on the call, or afterwards. They could then check the accuracy of the information they entered on the computer while on the call, or verify important verbal agreements. This is especially helpful when a client disputes what was said on a call. The call rep can easily listen to the past conversation and if necessary, email a copy of the conversation to the client to diffuse any conflict. It’s a very inoffensive way for a customer to realize they were wrong.

In VS Logger all you have to do to attach custom notes is to click on a recording to select it, then click on the little note pad icon in the upper right corner. Once you’ve added a note to a recording you can search by any keyword in that note to quickly find it again.

add custom note

The third option is to implement a call grading system. In this scenario a supervisor listens to a percentage of all calls and evaluates them using a simple grading process that allows call reps to see what they need to improve in. This program can be used to provide performance reviews on a regular basis by generating an average score for the review period and comparing it with the average score from previous periods or department averages. The key to this method is that it is very quick for a supervisor to grade on several key points like friendliness, asking for data, upselling, etc. Call reps can look at all their calls and see their average scores. This allows them to decide to improve in their weakest areas or can provide ideas for management on what types of training would be most effective.

VS Logger makes this easy as you can quickly make your own grading criteria and then to grade a call you simply selected it, and click on the “A+” icon in the upper right corner. A grading menu appears at the bottom and asks you to rank each call based on the criteria you selected, then saves your results.

grade calls

April 4, 2007

Call recording for Security

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 10:31 pm

This last week, Steve and I attended the huge ISC West trade show and convention in Las Vegas. There were over 16,000 people in attendance and even with 3 days we were unable to go by every booth at the show! Security has progressively become a more and more important topic for companies and the attendance at this show displayed the myriad ways companies are using to protect themselves, their employees and their profits.

Video cameras, and alarms are what most business people think of when considering security. However these are really only useful for the rare catastrophic situations that thankfully don’t often occur. Call recording provides more day to day security and liability protection. For the majority of businesses, crime is a rare problem, however, angry customers, lawsuit threats, and inappropriate phone calls are a much more common occurrence. For some companies these security threats are weekly or even daily. For this reason a call recorder can increase security and reduce your liability right away!

One of our customers runs a cement company and uses his call recorder to easily diffuse argumentative customers every week. Usually this happens when an order is made over the phone and later the details of the order are disputed by the customer. Our customer simply emails the recording of the call to the client in one click with our software and the situation is over. This saves him from having to eat costs and from losing clients every week. Of course this customer also has an alarm system and video cameras guarding his site but these security measures are only employed once every few years as opposed to the call recorder which pays for itself every week. This is the reason why I believe call recording should be the first item on your company’s security check list.

February 7, 2007

How to install a call recording kit: step by step

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 7:17 pm

Installing a call recording system might sound intimidating, but it is really not that difficult with most systems. Most vendors will offer preconfigured systems, and in this case the only work is in setting up the software and connecting your phone, radio or VoIP lines. However you can save a good deal if you install a call recording kit in your existing PC. I’ll walk you through the process step by step with pictures along the way. You need no special knowledge to do this. If you have a preconfigured system simply skip through to step 19.

Step 1: Gather your PC, the recording card, and a USB card. Two components you may be less familiar with are: #1 punchdown block, for connecting your phone lines. #2 The Telco cable for going between the punchdown block and your PC.

 

Step 2: Open up your PC.

 

Step 3:Look for the PCI slots on the Motherboard.

 

Step 4: Here we will install the usb card on PCI slot #1 and then the call recording card on PCI slot #2.

 

Step 5: To install the USB card, unscrew and remove the slot protector.

 

Step 6: With the slot protector removed you can now proceed.

 

Step 7: This is the USB card. Notice that it has a USB connection that will be inside the PC as well as the usual connections that will be accessible on the back of the PC.

 

Step 8 Firmly press the USB card into the first PCI slot and screw it firmly into place where the slot protector used to be. Later you will plug a USB key into this spot.

 

Step 9: This is the call recording card.

 

Step 10: The call recording card is installed next to the USB card. Remove the slot protector and press the call recording card firmly into the PCI slot. Then screw it into place the same way you did the USB card.

 

Step 11: Once you’ve installed the card the back of the PC will look like this. You can see the USB card with 4 slots and right above it is the Telco connector from the call recording card.

 

Step 12: This is what the Telco cable looks like. With Versadial call recorders all the cabling needed is included with the call recording system. Other call recording cards may use an Ethernet connector for recording VoIP, or 2 to 4 regular RJ-14 phone jacks.

 

Step 13: Plug the Telco cable into the PC and press firmly. One it has snapped into place lock down the two wire fasteners, one on the top and one on the bottom to keep it firmly attached.

 

Step 14: This is the USB key that will plug into the internal slot on the USB card you installed first. This USB key holds the software licenses that allow the call recorder to be easily upgraded when you need to expand capacity.

 

Step 15: This is how the USB key will fit into the USB card.

 

Step 16: Here is the same USB card installed in the PC. Carefully plug in the USB key.

 

Step 17: Make sure the USB key is firmly pressed into place.

 

Step 18: When the computer is started and you begin configuring the software, check to make sure the light on the USB key comes on. This will let you know everything is connected properly.

 

If you have a preconfigured system such as the VDL-PC, VDL-IND or VDL-MPDR start here:

Step 19: Now that you’ve installed the USB card, call recording card and the USB key it is time to connect the Telco cable to the punchdown block. This is the punchdown block. You can see the Telco plug in black and a number of wires coming from it up to one side of the block.

 

Step 20: Attach the Telco cable to the Punchdown block and secure it in place with the attached Velcro closure. Now the Telco cable is connecting the call recording card at the back of your PC to the Punchdown block.

 

Step 21: In this closeup of the punchdown block you can see on the right side all of the wires going to the Telco cable. These come in pairs. We’ve labled phone line #1 as the first row and second row, then phone line #2 as the third and fourth rows. The wires on the left come from a regular phone line.

 

Step 22: Here is another closeup of the Punchdown block. I’ve put numbers above columns 1, 2, 3, and 4. Columns 1 and 2 are connected underneath the punchdown block, and so are columns 3 and 4. The easiest way to connect your phone lines is to direcly connect into column 3 since it’s already attached to column 4. However the advantage to connecting to column 1 instead is that you are now more flexible if you need to make changes later on. This could save you some rewiring later. If you connect to column 1, remember that means you’re also connected automatically to column 2. So you can put what is called a bridge clip across the gap between 2 and 3. The nice thing about the bridge clip is that it’s easy to slip on and off.

 

Step 23: Now that we’ve decided to connect to column #1 we slide each wire for this phone line into a metal V slot. Notice that we’ve lined up the two white wires on the 1st row, and the two blue colored wires on the 2nd row.

 

Step 24: To push the wires down into the metal V slots use a punchdown tool.

 

Step 25: Slide the punchdown tool over the metal V of the slot which has the phone wire in it. It will slide the wire down to the bottom and strip plastic off the sides in one movement with a “click” sound when it reaches the bottom. Do this for the two wires of each phone.

 

Step 26: This is a bridge clip.

 

Step 27: Snap the bridge clip into place between columns 2 and 3. Remember to put a bridge clip in for each of rows. This will connect your phone line to channel 1 on the call recording card. Repeat this step for each phone you want to connect.

 

Step 28: Bridge clips can be removed easily for testing or to move a phone line to a different channel.

 

That’s it. You’ve installed the call recording kit. From here you will install the software and set up your preferences.

February 3, 2007

Report from the CalNENA trade show

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 12:54 am

Jan 29 and 30th I was at the CalNENA trade show. This regional show is targeted to 911 and emergency call and dispatch centers for police and fire departments.  Call recording is mandatory in the U.S. for these government agencies so I focused on explaining the unique benefits that my employer offers.  I will be at the APCO trade show in Longbeach CA at the end of this month, which is a similar audience and the ISC West trade show in Las Vegas, NV at the end of March. ISC West is a huge security-centric trade show. If you want a free pass to the exhibit hall, let me know and I can get you in. At our booth we can show you a live, working call recording system as well as the software in action. We’ve got competitors at these shows as well so you can get a look at several options for call recording.

January 26, 2007

How important do you rate “ease of use?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 11:51 pm

When you are looking a purchasing call recording software, how important is “ease of use” compared to the other factors? The other factors would be things like “number of features”, “price”, “speed & power”. Our software developers are always looking at this balance and trying to find the right mix. What do you think?

January 12, 2007

Will the iPhone open new doors for call recording?

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 12:11 am

Ok, I’ll admit to drooling on my monitor a bit when I watched the Macworld expo keynote on the Apple iPhone. However it was not because of the design or the features outlined, but because of the possibilities! The iPhone seems revolutionary to me because of one big reason, and no it’s not the touch screen…it’s the possibility for real 3rd party app development. Up till now phones have been a closed and locked environment, but the iPhone could herald a new chapter for phones as real computing devices. At this point much is unclear about how 3rd party apps are going to be treated, but if anyone has the clout to crack the cell phone iron curtain it is Apple Inc.

So what does this mean for someone interested in call recording? Imagine being able to install a small remote client piece of software on your iPhone that not only records your own cell phone calls but allows you to sync with your corporate recorder and archive your recordings whenever you were in WiFi range. This could solve a huge problem facing many businesses today. That problem is recording the calls on their corporate cell phones. One lawsuit is all it takes to convince most businesses that call recording is mission critical. So the implement a call recording system, but come up against a wall when it comes to recording their business cell phones. Cell phones and landlines use a different protocol not to mention the fact that there is usually no way to conveniently tap into cell phone lines because there is no base station at the corporate office. Cell phones are now the de facto standard communication tool given to management and sales staff…just the people you really want to safeguard with automated recordings. However there is no company out there that offers a good solution for recording cell calls. What the iPhone could do is open up the closed cell phone environment to allowing 3rd party apps to no only be installed to record as the user or business wishes, but also to sync with computers via WiFi. This would create a seamless recording environment regardless of the multiple carrier formats and systems because they would all have WiFi or something like it as a connection. The iPhone won’t come out till June 2007, and likely it and the competition won’t seriously change the cell phone landscape for at least a year but the possibilities for cell call recording are now looking up.

January 3, 2007

Is 2007 the year for VoIP recording?

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 10:06 pm

Is this the year that VoIP phones will overtake your traditional phone systems? If you are considering VoIP and call recording there are few things you should consider about VoIP recording. First, setting up VoIP recording CAN be much simpler than traditional call recording. The reason for this is that one single connection to your router or hub is all you’ll need as opposed to multiple phone tap cables. The setup can be done by just about anyone instead of requiring a telephone technician. However, VoIP is new and no single established standard exists, so there are many incompatible VoIP standards and not all types of VoIP can be recorded at this time. Check the VoIP PBX or VoIP phones you plan to get against the compatibility of your call recording solution before you buy!

December 5, 2006

Comparing different call recording solutions

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 7:58 pm

 Here is a common problem. You’re business has decided to add call recording or upgrade their current call recording solution and you start soliciting information from various vendors to find the best solution for you…now how do you evaluate and compare the different call recording offerings?

This can be an overwhelming process as you are often comparing apples to oranges and trying to figure out what you need and all the industry tech jargon as well. I know, right now I’m in a similar process of choosing a Webinar service provider and it can be confusing at times. Here’s some things I’ve found that have helped me in the process of comparing differing solutions:

#1 Figure out what features you absolutely have to have and compare the various solutions on these points first. Give each offering a score based on how many of your essential features it has.

#2 Use non essentials as tie-breakers. After comparing on just the essentials if there is a close tie, only then look at secondary features the two solutions do not have in common. Weigh these features based on how important they are to you, even assigning them a value on a scale of 1-10 and then add up the points and see which solution “wins.”

#3 Usability is the trump card! Don’t be afraid to ask for multiple demonstrations or to ask lots of questions. At Versadial, where I work we routinely do live demonstrations of our software for potential customers. No matter how good a solution sounds on paper, make SURE you feel comfortable using it! Often this “human” element of how it feels using the software ends up being more important than the list of features or costs! It’s like buying shoes. If they look great, but they don’t fit then you’ll rarely wear them and be uncomfortable when you do! Get comfortable “wearing” your software solution through the demos, and free trials! This has always been the final and most important test for me. You may find that the solution with the best looks in step one does not always end up being the best choice because it is not the easiest to use. Remember, the more comfortable you are with the software, the more you’ll use it, and the more you use it, the more value you’ll get out of it.

comparing call recording solutions

November 27, 2006

Grokking the situation through call recordings

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 6:14 pm

OK, I admit I had no idea what “Grokking” meant 2 hours ago. (Thank you Wikipedia for bailing me out.) While I was reading the Federated Media blog I encountered the word which means to understand something so fully it becomes part of you and changes your perspective. Read the Wikipedia entry for a more full description of “grok” and its semantics here. What I’m getting at is that call recordings have this purpose at their core…to put you in the situation as if you were actually there. This is one of the big reasons why businesses record their calls. Let’s say a customer calls in and speaks with a service rep and there is some sort of problem. Rather than have the service rep try to describe the conversation based on their memory and then have a supervisor make a decision based upon that limited and likely biased information, with a call recorder that particular call can be easily found, and listened to by the supervisor who now understands the situation as if they were there! Now not only can a decision be made with all the facts, but the supervisor might better determine the root problem, and ways to address this in the future. This kind of problem solving requires the kind of up-close and personal understanding that only call recordings can provide. Business people have to make judgement calls all the time with limited information in “he said, she said” scenarios. Here is a simple way to not only make more accurate judgement calls, but also to understand the situation as it transpired and find ways to solve it at the root. This is why I chose to use a word that’s new to me to describe what call recording can do for your management process.

November 17, 2006

How to find the right call recording solution

Filed under: Uncategorized — callrecording @ 7:02 pm

OK, so let’s say you’ve been given the assignment to implement a call recording solution at your company. How do you do it? This is a common situation. In many industries call recording is mandated by law, or simply considered a cost of doing business. Some businesses may be upgrading from tape recorders or proprietary digital recorders that have become more expensive to maintain than to replace. Even if your company has never had a call recording solution in place you will still be in the same boat. Here are a few simple steps I’ve learned will make the process easier. I’ve learned these steps by talking to countless business people from all types of industries, with all types of experience levels in call recording. Trust me, it’s not that hard once you look at what you’ll need to do.

Step 1: Determine your requirements

There are many solutions out there and different ways to set them up. You’ll save a lot of time if you first figure out why your company needs to record. A company that only does call recording because it is mandated by law will only need a simple solution that is very reliable. A company that uses it’s call recorder to boost customer satisfaction, reduce costs, and train its personnel will need something more advanced. See what I mean by your company’s requirements?

Step 2: Gather the technical details

Whatever call recording solution you go with is going to require the answers to some technical questions to make sure it works with your existing phones, PBX, or network. You probably don’t know the answers to these questions off the top of your head, but if you know the questions now you can send these on to one of your IT guys or your Telecom provider and find them out before you start shopping around. The questions are: 1) What type of telephone lines do you have coming into your company? (called trunk lines. These could be T1, E1, ISDN, analog or another type) 2) How many trunk lines do you have? What is the brand and model number of your PBX (If you have one…) and your phone sets? Are you going to record VoIP lines, and if so what flavor of VoIP? (There are many types)

Step 3: What’s your budget?

Call recorders vary greatly in cost. Some companies get by with a tape recorder attached by an adapter to their phones for less than $100 a phone line, but what a pain in the butt to have to remember to start and stop that tape on every call, and good luck finding a recording when you need it. Then you have to remember to buy more tapes and change them out. There are also very, very expensive call recording systems that have all kinds of advanced bells and whistles such as voice recognition to flag recordings where people’s voices sound angry, etc. These can go for over $10,000 to hundreds of thousands. A nice middle of the road solution that is easy to use and has all the power most companies will ever need should go for between $2,000-$10,000 depending on how many lines are being recorded. Know your budget now and the search will be easier.

Step 4: Shop around using these criteria

Now that you know what you need, what your technical requirements are and what you are willing to pay you can start looking and easily filter out call recording solutions that don’t fit. Here’s a few things to look for when talking to reps from various call recording companies: 1) A live demonstration of the product. If you’re going to be spending more than a thousand dollars you should expect some sort of way to see what you’re getting first. At Versadial where I work we do a “live demo” where the potential customer can download the software onto their computer and run it by connecting into our server and actually do some recordings and try out the software while our staff answers questions and walks them through it over the phone. 2) A detailed quote including all fees and terms. Make sure you see the fine print. Small items like charges for installing the software on multiple computers (seat licensing) and mandatory yearly maintenance contracts to pay are common in the call recording industry so shop around and compare. 3) A guarantee to make sure the call recorder works when installed at your location and that you are happy with it. Don’t accept less! This is a purchase you want to be happy about and it should not be a problem for the company you are purchasing from to offer this kind of guarantee in writing. In this way if the recorder doesn’t work you can send it back within a month or so and get your money back minus the cost of shipping.

Happy hunting! If you have any questions about these steps just leave a comment and I’ll try to answer within a few days.

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