If there are reasons you should not record your calls, why is everyone doing it?
The answer is easy. There are many good reasons to record your calls. For some it’s not a matter of choice – industry regulations mandate that they record some or all of their customer transactions. For other companies call recording and desktop screen capture are vital parts of quality, coaching, and training programs. Using the recordings in this capacity can yield tremendous returns in regard to agent development.
Many industries have federal and other regulations that make call recording a necessity. Financial institutions need records of all customer transactions, including telephone calls. Retailers, telecommunications companies, catalog houses, and ecommerce businesses need to record sales verifications.
Sales / Upsell
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) have specific language that impacts call center operating procedures. The TCPA covers regulations regarding general consumer contact, most notably Do Not Call requirements. The TCPA does include provisions regarding the use of recordings in outbound calling, but this is different than the recording of a phone call.
The TSR has provisions requiring written or recorded verification for up-sell and cross-sell activities and for certain types of payment authorization. Many companies do not realize that the TSR applies to inbound calls as well as outbound calls. For upsell and cross-sell, where an item is sold in addition to or instead of the item that the customer was inquiring about in their call, the seller must be able to verify that full disclosure of the terms of the sale has been provided. This may be through written authorization from the customer or through audio recording.
Written disclosure is rarely the preferred method, as it prolongs the timeframe to close the sale, giving the buyer time to reconsider and cancel the order. Recorded verification enables the seller to close the sale on the spot. Also covered in the TSR is the need to have a customer’s express agreement to be charged. The rules for this verification vary slightly depending on the method of payment; Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) and debit cards have more stringent policies than credit cards. Express agreement to be charged is required when a free trial period is followed by an automated payment cycle, regardless of the method of payment.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, also known as the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002, is a federal law implemented in response to corporate accounting fiascos such as Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and Adelphia. The Act is wide ranging, with a strong focus on accounting oversight. Call recording is beneficial to companies working to meet Sarbanes-Oxley Act requirements, as it provides an auditable source of transactional information.
Most companies providing sales and service support via the telephone can benefit by using recorded calls to resolve disputes. For companies that are recording to meet industry regulations, these same recordings have potential for use in dispute resolution.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) does not require call recording, but a recorded call may be used to settle a claim against a collector’s behavior in relation to the act. While the perceived need for this recording is subjective, the benefit from being able to effectively resolve or settle this type of dispute is clear.
Recorded calls can also be used to resolve disputes regarding insurance claims, where a recording of the primary claim is leveraged to validate what coverage was granted or denied, based on the information provided by the caller at the time of the claim. Each insurance company will likely have specific policies regarding the need for recording and acceptable use of recorded calls.
The Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) is effective in preventing many billing disputes by requiring full and complete disclosure of the terms of the sale, and express verified consent for payment. However, as many a call center manager will tell you, customers are prone to forgetting that they gave consent and agreed to the terms of sale. Using recordings in billing support is an effective way to resolve disputes. And, in the event your agent did err in his or her sales efforts, the ability to properly determine the correct course of action for the customer is paramount to retaining that customer.
Quality and Training
It may be the most well known recording of all time. Many can recite its words by heart. It is heard daily by millions:
“This call may be monitored or recorded for quality and training purposes…”
One of the more critical – and more variable – aspects of a quality program is the composition of the form itself. We recommend starting the process by designing the reports you would like to see. Keep in mind that you can gather data while you are evaluating the call, so do not limit the scope of the evaluation form to agent performance. The more information you can gather about the call itself, you can better identify trends in performance relative to specific call scenarios. For example, if you are taking billing calls, use your evaluation form to identify what products or services the call pertains to. As you collect more data, you may see trends emerge indicating a need to educate your agents or your customers on a specific product or service.
Using pre-recorded calls in the training room is a more effective tool compared to live monitoring. With recorded calls you are able to ensure that the content of the call is appropriate for where you are in your training curriculum. By doing this type of observation in the training room and not on the live call floor you are able to provide a more consistent learning experience, because all agents are learning from the same calls and the same agents. You eliminate the randomization and the wild cards inherent in live monitoring.
In part two of this series will explore reasons not to record your calls, specifically state laws regarding two-party notification. We will also discuss ways to keep your recorder compliant.
The information presented does not constitute legal advice, and we strongly encourage anyone seeking more detailed information to enlist the services of a lawyer who is versed in the requirements for your industry and/or state.