Call Recording: Essential Technology for Service Providers

11 April, 2016

Technology that enables Call Recording (also known as phone recording or voice logging) over VoIP networks — broadly, VoIP recording — is widely available and in some cases integrated into existing systems.  VoIP recording from a technical standpoint is executed either by sniffing the VoIP network using packet filtering technology or duplicating the voice packets and directing them to a recorder, with the latter technique becoming more and more popular.  The advent and broad acceptance of the SIP Recording protocol (SIPREC) standard has allowed for the VoIP recording process to become much more efficient and powerful, with greater capacity to gather useful or interesting meta-data about calls.  Regardless of its back-end technological processes, Call Recording is a valuable tool for many business, and as the cost-based barriers to use drop and its potential value to customers rises, it is a technology every forward-looking Service Provider should adopt.

In spite of this, however, VoIP Recording remains far from the norm, particularly for Small and Medium-sized businesses outside of particular industries.  This is in large part a consequence of the complexity of the legal framework in which Call Recording operates, which has to be assessed by potential users at the level of international, federal, and state law.  However, as interesting new voice analysis and transcription software emerges on the market and price of complexity of Call Recording technology drops, the benefits of VoIP Recording for the average SMB are beginning begin to outweigh the perceived legal risks. In 2016, Service Providers should have this tool as an option in their offerings, but must remain mindful and inform their clients of regulatory constraints.

Right now, Call Recording is broadly employed in several industries, notably Call Center and Finance.  This is easy to understand, given the strong incentives that the business processes of each industry provide for Call Recording.  For Call Centers, recording provides an important tool for quality assurance, allowing call center agents to review their past calls to analyze their own performance and managers to do the same for agents, as well hone business practices.  Furthermore, it provides them with tools that facilitate risk management and training, as well as — when combined with analytics software — the ability to anticipate client issues and optimize client-agent interaction on an individual basis.  Although certain business practices in the Finance Industry — oral contracts in particular — lend themselves to Call Recording, it is regulatory concerns and compliance that drive finance’s use of the service.  In the wake of the Financial Crisis of 2008, the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulatory Bill brought certain sectors of the Finance Industry under heavy regulatory scrutiny.  One element of this regulation requires that entities engaging in certain types of transactions (swap trading, for example) record and make searchable all communications related to any completed transaction.  In practice these firms must automatically file and record all communications, including voice calls, in order to ensure compliance with the law.

Outside of these industries, however, Call Recording is not particularly widespread.  This has to do in large part with the complex and stringent regulation regarding voice recording in the United States and abroad.  In the US, businesses considering Call Recording must ensure that they are compliant with both state and federal law, and furthermore, that they are compliant with the regulations of the states in which their services may be used.  Given the significant variation in legislation from state to state (see here a comprehensive Call Recording reference, but seek legal advice for definitive counsel) regarding voice recording, and the stringency of the law in certain large jurisdictions, for many businesses the potential liability simply outweighs the potential benefits of Call Recording.  In California, for example, there has been a marked increase in recent years in the number of class-action lawsuits relating to third-party voice recording, which in theory could apply to Service Providers employing third-party cloud-based Call Recording software.  Additionally, industry specific regulation like HIPAA (which specifies strict guidelines regarding the secure storage and retention of certain medical records which can include recorded calls) complicates the situation further, and imposes greater burdens on a business engaging in Call Recording.

In short, businesses without an existing compelling quality assurance or regulatory interest in Call Recording tend to avoid its use owing to perceived legal risks.  New technologies and developments in speech recognition and analytics, however, are beginning to dramatically increase the value that call recording can deliver to businesses.  Voice Base, for example, delivers an analytical service that allows businesses to procedurally assess voice calls on the basis of keywords and phrases, as well as engage in Sales Optimization, while Nice’s speech analytics service can highlight call participant emotion and talk-over, a key indicator of caller dissatisfaction.  A final (though far from the last) suite of complex speech analytics services is Eureka’s, which integrates transcripts of live and recorded speech with the client’s textual communications, allowing for a holistic analysis.
Although the most compelling use cases for these products remain driven by compliance and client-service, they nevertheless have the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of and add value to business processes in which voice is the principal medium.  Although not perfect for every client, as the value of Call Recording grows with advances in voice recognition and big data cognition, more businesses may come to find it worth the risk, and every Service Provider should have it on offer for those who do.

Posted Under:VoIP Logic Blog