Voice Logging: Luxury or Necessity?

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Peter Lyle DeHaan

Voice logging, that is the recording of calls in a call center, was once viewed by many as an optional product that was relegated to the “want” list, but never important enough to advance to “need” list or become a “must have” technology. The original use of voice loggers was to resolve the too common “he said – she said” dilemmas. All too often, the caller says one thing, the agent has an opposite account of what transpired, and the client is left in a quandary as to whom to believe. Invariably, clients side with the callers and dismiss the agent’s point of view. All that the call center can do is to apologize.

With a voice logger, this once inevitable outcome is no longer a certainty. Quite simply, when the “he said – she said” issue raises it’s ugly head, the supervisor simply accesses the recording of the call and can know exactly what happened. Users of voice loggers report that in over 90% of the cases, the call center agent is completely exonerated. “Our voice logger probably rescues us from a serious ‘he-said, she-said’ dispute with a client a couple times a week,” said Doug Lindsey of Answerphone in Albany, NY. “There’s no telling how many clients that’s saved us, but I’d say a conservative estimate would be one per month. This result alone is enough to justify the $30,000 we’ve invested over the years, but a much larger benefit is the quality assurance monitoring we do on our staff.”

For that reason alone, call centers began to buy and install voice loggers. But then innovation began to take place and users realized that voice loggers were a critical quality assurance device and an excellent training tool. Voice logging allowed call centers to provide examples of what to do and what not to do. Voice logging could be used for trainee self-evaluation and discovery.

I can’t imagine how we conducted our business before we got our Infinity voice logger,” stated Allan Fromm, owner of Anser Services in Green Bay, WI. “It is a great tool for finding out what happened on a call and is also perfect for training purposes.” Moreover, he adds, “When a client questions a call, we can look it up and email it to them while they are still on the phone.”

“Without a voice logger, our clients were part of the quality assurance (QA) department, because they often noticed problems before we did,” added Lindsey. “We’re now able to be much more proactive and have fewer complaints as a result. We now monitor at least 10 phone calls for each agent at least every four weeks,” said Lindsay. “The result is that we give timely reinforcement training to those who need it, disciplinary action to those who deserve it, and have revamped our training system to help correct what seemed to be endemic problems.”

Chris Bell, president of MedCom Professional Services Inc., takes it one step farther, “Our supervisors say that voice loggers are the most important piece of equipment in our call center.” MedCom has two Exacom voice loggers. One logger rides on their PRI circuit and provides them with the opportunity to hear a call “from the time it enters the building until it is disconnected.” Their other logger records the agent stations and select outdial trunks directly. They use it to evaluate and monitor agents. Both loggers provide ANI or calling party identification. “Plus,” Bell proudly adds, “As far as reliability goes, we don’t reboot our Exacom call loggers from one year to the next.”

Fromm echoes the importance of monitoring and evaluating agents, “The agent assessment tool makes it so easy to provide meaningful feedback to our staff, and the Web interface lets our managers and clients listen to calls from anywhere.” Michael Stoll, president of Record Play/Tec, noted that one of his voice-logging customers is in Florida, but the owner listens to “the calls in Argentina, South America over a virtual private network.”

There are some legal issues about voice logging to be aware of, related to notification (either one of the two parties on the call or both) and they way in which that notification takes place. The sidebar on “Notification” gives some basic information, but each call center should check with their attorney for details and clarification before proceeding.

See our current listing of vendors that provide call logging and voice logging solutions.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Connections Magazine. He’s a passionate wordsmith whose goal is to change the world one word at a time.  Read more of his articles at PeterDeHaanPublishing.com.

[From Connection MagazineJune 2004]