But call monitoring tools are not all created equal, and you should choose carefully, to make sure you have the functionality which your call center needs to ensure total quality.
Here are some features you must consider:
There are lots of reasons why you might want to record all, or a proportion of, sales or customer support calls. Ringover’s call center software makes it easy to capture all calls digitally and automatically, whatever you later do with that content. Provided you advise callers that their call may be recorded, you can store it for any reasonable period, and use it for a range of different purposes:
If you are short of supervisors on a shift, you can meet or exceed a quality standard by monitoring retroactively instead of in real-time (see ‘double listening’, below) — so long as your target proportion of calls are monitored on a weekly or monthly basis, you’ll still be complying with your standard.
Provided the parameters for supervision are clear, it might not require that highly skilled analysis of call recordings is needed — a first tier outsourced listening service can flag those where deeper investigation may be needed, and increasingly automated supervision tools are able to offer this functionality, as well as providing feedback along the lines of, ‘don’t forget to end each call by checking whether they need assistance with anything else’, or other personalized input generated by analyzing the recordings of particular agents.
Training and development
Teachable moments can arise on any call, whether they exemplify what to do or what not to do. Even the worst calls can have positive value, if they are turned into learning experiences. They can be used anonymously in group situations, or to provide one-on-one coaching to the individual involved — allowing them to get expert input on how a situation could have been handled differently, in case something similar arises in the future.
Compiling an archive of recordings can be a valuable asset for training and onboarding new hires, but also for experienced agents too. Many sales people in particular find it valuable to review both their own calls and those of their colleagues. How do top performers overcome challenging objections, deal with the drawbacks of specific products, and provide reassurance over common concerns?
The best sales executives learn continually from this kind of input, that used to take place via an apprenticeship of accompanying face to face sales meetings, but which increasingly now happens digitally — and this kind of professional development will see their conversion rates and commission payments go up accordingly.
As more and more highly regulated and sensitive conversations are now taking place on the phone instead of face to face, call recording helps you comply with statutory and industry standards related to this.
Indeed, the actual recording and archiving might be part of the compliance itself, forming part of a contract between the customer and the organization, such as when explaining the terms and limitations of an insurance policy. Even the voiceprint of the customer can now be referenced as biometric data in a compliance situation, provided that the recording is legally obtained — this might apply in a situation like banking, where a payment instruction is recorded over the phone that is later disputed.
In certain industries where incorrect or incomplete advice could cause a detriment to the customer, recordings can be called as evidence, and may even have to be archived for years in case they are needed for that purpose. “Your advisor told me I should buy that stock, and then it crashed!” Understandably it can feel formulaic and weird for an agent to read out statutory terms and conditions every time — “the value of this investment can go up and well as down /your mileage may vary” — but they absolutely must not cut corners here. Knowing that every call is being recorded is a powerful incentive for them to behave in a way that will keep your business out of legal trouble.
From a compliance point of view, call recording also protects your agent, from any conflict resolution or dispute arising. People don’t always want to hear the small print, or accept that they take personal responsibility for contracting a deal — but if the recording is there to back up the agent, then the individual and the organization are both legally protected.
Double listening or live call listening, is the basis of call monitoring. Indeed, before we had the benefits of cloud-based and digital business phone systems, it was the only way of monitoring a call at all - to have a second secret listener on the call as it happened.
Obviously the drawback here is the resourcing that it takes, because to monitor in this way has to happen in real-time, and takes as long as the call itself. Typically, this was used on a random sampling basis for quality assurance, depending on resources — scanning say 3% or 5% of any given agents calls.
These random choices could always be overridden when there were specific areas of concern, like an agent who had some negative feedback or complaints, or was new or inexperienced. But double listening as a tool becomes particularly impactful in the 2020 call center when used in conjunction with the detailed analytics available in the Ringover dashboard, to gain real insight into an agents’ behavior. Rather than waiting for a complaint to highlight an area of concern, these advanced statistics mean a supervisor can use call monitoring alongside data about the agent’s time spent on each call, response time, call abandonment rate, first call resolution, and all sorts of metrics — which together paint a detailed portrait of effectiveness and productivity.
While feedback from double listening can be provided after the call is over, sometimes it’s more effective - or absolutely essential — to provide that feedback immediately, while the call is in progress. Ensuring great customer service or a successful sale applies as much to the call in hand as to future calls, so ‘whisper mode’ functionality enables this to happen directly and discreetly. This supports the agent without undermining them in the customer’s eyes, which always risks potentially reducing confidence in the organization itself.
Whispered monitoring can be especially useful when someone is training in a new role, or simply encountering a new situation — product knowledge which comes from years of experience may not be at the mental fingertips of the newbie agent, but the veteran supervisor knows exactly the right answer to that difficult question, or how to pinpoint that obscure reference in the knowledge base. This leads to higher first call resolution and customer satisfaction scores, and reduces the number of support tickets and escalations in the system, while simultaneously upskilling the agent in real-time — all without the caller even being aware of the intervention, a definite win-win!
Occasionally though an agent might lose control of a call altogether. Perhaps they get way out of their depth and end up unable to provide any advice to a customer, or they cannot handle the aggressive/abusive tirade which can occasionally happen in any call center.
Or, they might be giving incorrect or non-compliant information, saying something which could damage the organization’s reputation or status, and it’s vital that the conversation is interrupted immediately, whatever happens to the transaction in hand (or the long-term employment of the agent). It might not be possible to salvage the sale, but misinformation can be corrected, and perhaps the brand reputation restored.
Call barging is one of those monitoring features which you hopefully will not often use — it’s a last resort, to deploy when good training in the first place or whispered interventions for the agent’s ear only do not suffice. But in those moments where you need it, you’ll realize how crucial this functionality is — when you simply have to jump in, to retain a customer or prevent a legal breach. So make sure that your call monitoring software of choice offers this functionality, and that your supervisors know exactly how and when to use it.
Presence and performance monitoring
At a time when your agents are increasingly likely to be making and receiving calls on your behalf from a remote location (like their own home), call monitoring becomes part of the matrix of data and analytics which helps you understand their overall performance, as both individuals and teams.
When you were operating in a traditional call center with everyone arranged in cubicles from which the shift supervisor had a more or less direct line of sight, it was easy to get a pretty instinctive overview of effort and productivity, even down to observing the physical behavior going on — you might have seen agents pacing up and down, ‘smiling and dialing’, using their whole body on the call, even when the interaction was voice-only. Whatever the outcome of each interaction the effort was vividly apparent, as were differences between two individuals — where one was clearly putting body and soul into every call, while the other was much more laid back and relaxed.
But which of them was actually more productive and effective?
In today’s distributed environments we have data instead of intuition, which is a good thing, because intuition is sometimes distorted by what is obvious (like what you can see). Your call monitoring software — which can be configured uniquely for you to monitor the metrics that matter, using Ringoverview’s on-demand dashboard customization for supervisor private view, or to design a motivational data visualization for your team to see in real-time.
Having that animated vision will be great for driving competitiveness on the virtual sales floor — who is going to smash the target, help the greatest number of customers, clear the most tickets today? You’ll want to choose carefully which metrics on which to focus attention, to nurture the behaviors you most want to cultivate (is whipping through tickets the priority, or increasing first call resolution regardless of how long each call takes?).
But for the manager, the advance statistics that Ringover’s call monitoring tools can provide go far deeper, and can be used to generate really detailed insight into the performance of individual agents, products, tools and events. Using analytics from the call monitoring suite alongside the logs and timesheets for each individual, the CRM data, and business intelligence in relation to particular products, you can really customize the intelligence you receive, to answer complex questions such as:
- Although Agent X makes fewer than average calls, she seems to be the expert in resolving queries with product A — how much money does that save us?
- Product B seems to generate large numbers of after-sales support calls. It’s a high-value item and it sells well, but is it really worth the hassle it creates?
- Agent Y seems to be a powerhouse of productivity, with off-the-charts call logs… but this isn’t reflecting in his sales output. What’s the real problem here, and how can we help him improve his conversion rates?
- Product C has a long queue of outstanding escalations. Is this an issue with Product C itself, or is there a lack of knowledge or experience about it in our tier one support team?
To ask, never mind begin to answer, questions like these, requires a deep understanding of the role of call monitoring within the data and analytics matrix of information your call center can gather, which is why its vital to choose the right call monitoring software, and to work with an expert when specify and configure it to precisely meet your needs.
Ringover’s deep expertise in call center and contact center application development and deployment, combined with integral commitment to the needs of our own customers, is the secret weapon that will help you not only set up your call center in the first place, but learn from the information it provides you — to ensure you fully optimize your customer satisfaction and experience at all times.
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