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Why Recording Customer Service Calls is Good for Business

A recent news item focuses up-close on an incident of exceptionally bad customer service and raises the question of how and if the company monitored the employee.

This past July, the website C/net published a story about the “worst service rep in the world,” which, based on the contents of the embedded sound file (and on YouTube and elsewhere), lived up to that description.http://www.cnet.com/news/could-this-comcast-rep-be-the-worst-service-rep-in-the-world/ A customer had called his Internet/cable provider to discontinue service. The customer service agent would not comply with the request but repeatedly asked why they wanted to quit. The customer declined to give a reason.

The agent became incredulous, demanding to know why the customer would want to leave “the Number One provider” behind: “Tell me why you don’t want faster speed,” the agent insisted. The customer recorded the call and posted it online. It is not known if the Internet/cable provider also recorded the call—or if they record their representatives at all. Listening to it is sufficient to make one suppose that they probably don’t or that if they do, they don’t review the recordings.

Unfortunately for the company, Time magazine and National Public Radio, among others, picked up the story and ran with it.

Why record your employees’ customer calls?

The C/net story is enough to make a call center supervisor/customer care director/etc. do one of the following:

  1. Feel secure and proud for having a modern, fully-functional call recording system with content that is regularly reviewed
  2. Experience mild panic, wondering both if his recording system is actually functioning and also what awaits him on those backdated recordings he’s not reviewed or
  3. Break into a cold sweat and shortness of breath, knowing he’s got no call recording system in place and wondering if the next “worst service rep in the world” story might be about his company.

Rather than doing damage control, which only confirms the gaff, it would have a much better effect on customers and public opinion to make the most of a call recording system to detect and prevent such occurrences and to create an effective, professional customer service force.

Guaranteeing quality service

Arguably the number one reason for call recording is to makes sure your representatives are delivering the level of service you expect. What if, in the customer service disaster mentioned earlier, the customer had not thought to record the call (let alone post it on the Internet)? Unless the company actively recorded and routinely reviewed calls, such a representative would be a “camouflaged hole,” creating ill will and bad word-of-mouth for the company.

Grossly ill-mannered reps are the exception, which might lead some to argue that casually monitoring employees, such as standing within earshot or only recording the employee’s end of the conversation, is sufficient for purpose of assessment and improvement.

But if you don’t record the entire content of the call, you risk the a scenario not unlike when police interview witnesses to an accident: Everyone saw it a little differently. Without the recording, you have nothing to review with. You will have heard the call one way, the employee another. And the ability for the employee to listen to the call is invaluable, as will be covered later.

Dispute resolution: no more “he said, she said”

Let’s again use the “worst customer service call”but this time the customer didn’t record the call. Rather, they called back, asked for and then vented at a supervisor for ten minutes, demanding they fire the rep. Last I checked, the customer is always right but that’s no reason to believe and act on their assertions. An audio record of the call, such as is made with VoIP hosted PBX call recording, is the only evidence one need to review to know what actually went down. When you can pull the call and hear both sides, you get the true picture.

This can be invaluable in terms of:

  • Determining how a dispute arose or when it began
  • Protecting against unfair customer claims
  • Legal matters such as allegations of policies or statements made verbally
  • Decreasing liability
  • HIPAA, tax or insurance matters

Training and developing staff

As hinted at a bit earlier, some of the best training a telephone representative can get is listening to a recording of themselves on the phone with customers. Such recordings are full of objective information about:

  • The volume and clarity of the rep’s voice
  • The speed at which they speak (too fast or too slow)
  • The rep’s ability to understand and appropriately respond to what the customer/caller is said
  • General professionalism

Attempting to train and/or develop call center employees without a document of their successful actions as well as their missteps is a bit like running blindfolded: You might get somewhere but it won’t be easy or certain, to say the least.

However, with call recording, you can develop your employees more easily and with certainty. In turn, your best agents can then be used to train the new or less refined ones.

Regulatory compliance

Policies and procedures may be originated inside a company or mandated by agencies outside the company (such as federal government). Either way, it’s important to ensure that telephone agents are adhering to any and all of them. Depending on what industry you’re in, this point could be the most important of all.

An employee that knows he/she is being recorded is more likely to comply with any company or legal policies or standards.

Order and payment verification

While a company may use electronic or written documentation, there is no substitute for a recording of the actual conversation during which an order was placed over the phone. This holds true as well for when a client or customer has authorized a payment. Should a conflict on the matter ever arise, having a record of those utterances could solve any problem.

Keeping the sales force, clients and prospects on the same page

Call recording is also indispensable in the area of sales. More so than handwritten notes or memory, an audio record of terms discussed, exchanges, agreements, etc.:

  • Contains all the details
  • Lets all involved know exactly what was said
  • Allows you go back and verify what a prospect requested or agreed to
  • Saves time because you can send the call to someone rather than restate it in an e-mail

Rewarding your star players

Much of the foregoing seems to be of a defensive nature but that’s not the entire picture. Call recording can be used to identify and acknowledge your best and most competent customer service people:

  • Acknowledging an agent’s good caller handling tends to breed continued good caller handling
  • Playing recorded calls at team meetings that demonstrate excellent customer service helps the entire team.
  • Voice prints of exemplary calls can be archived and used for future training purposes.

There are other good uses of call recording but you get the idea.

Lastly, the expense for call recording is minor. Disk space for recorded call storage is negligible. If you currently use a VoIP hosted PBX system without recording, it’s a nominal fee to add the recording feature.

The expense for neglecting it however could be major, such as in the case of the “worst service rep in the world.” That show how call recording is a necessary and sound investment.

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