Recent technology advancements have greatly improved the quality of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). In the past, using an Internet service to implement a type of voice telephone service was a poor substitute for traditional voice telephone service. The quality of VoIP was very unreliable, and the connection between two or more callers was difficult. VoIP was primarily a niche service used by companies seeking an inexpensive means for overseas calling.
Now, though, many small and midsize businesses are investigating or using VoIP. One of the most commonly implemented VoIP solutions is call recording.
Every contact center strives to address its customers’ issues quickly and to take orders efficiently. Many managers monitor and track the performance of an agent with call recording to ensure the quality of their business. But while every corporation would like to believe that quality assurance is the only reason recording calls is necessary, the reality is that some employees and customers may be dishonest or inconsiderate of the corporation’s livelihood.
A disgruntled employee, for instance, may decide to become disloyal to the company and strive to obtain what he believes is “fair compensation” for his distress. Call recording solutions can prove if this employee has shared important and confidential information with competitors or other damaging sources as retaliation.
The legality of employee monitoring
Over time courts have interpreted the law and made an exception if the interception of the oral communication was made with interception equipment furnished to the employer by a communication services provider and made within the ordinary course of business. But what falls into the ordinary course of business?
Complications and disputes begin to arise when personal conversations are monitored. For an employer to defeat this claim the company’s human resource department should institute a written policy that either clearly identifies monitored lines or expressly prohibits personal calls on monitored lines. Having the policy and communicating it clearly to employees may be the only deterrent to this abusive behavior, as the employee will not have the expectation of extended privacy. In some cases, however, employers have had to invoke this exception and present the written policy as proof that the employee was knowledgeable of the monitoring.
For example, in Briggs v. American Air Filter Co., Inc., the court deemed it acceptable for businesses to monitor employee phone usage due to the nature of the circumstances. The supervisor had previously spoken to an employee warning him not to disclose information. One day the supervisor knew that a specific telephone call was with an agent of a competitor, and he listened to the conversation. The court held that the supervisor’s actions were within the “course of business” as the call involved the type of information he feared was being disclosed and the equipment used to monitor the call was made with interception equipment furnished to the employer by a communication services provider.
In recent years, more and more e-mail correspondences and call recordings have been offered into evidence in the court of law. Both federal and state statutes govern the use of electronic recording equipment. If an individual or a company uses call-recording solutions unlawfully, a civil suit and sometimes a criminal prosecution can ensue. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the federal law allows recording of phone calls and other electronic communications with the consent of at least one party on the call. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia permit individuals to record conversations to which they are a party without informing the other parties that they are doing so. These laws are referred to as “one-party consent” statutes, and as long as you are a party to the conversation, it is legal for you to record it. Twelve states require, under most circumstances, the consent of all parties to a conversation. Those jurisdictions are California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
The importance of customer monitoring
Customers, of course, can have a damaging effect on a company if they become unhappy with the product or service. Customer service is an important aspect for every company, yet it is also one of the most overlooked departments. A customer may decide that he has been treated unfairly and scheme to portray the company in a bad light to the media, their lawyers, and potential customers. A call-recording solution can protect the company from unfair complaints and minimize the risk of frivolous lawsuits. The solution will capture irrefutable evidence of what was “actually” said and not what the customer “remembers.”
Call recording can also be beneficial if a disgruntled customer repeatedly calls the corporation. An alarm can be set to alert the contact center agent of the specific call and to automatically record the conversation. This type of event recording can protect the institution and improve customer service. The company can also flag and record 911 and expensive international calls to find the exact location where the call originated, which can be used if the corporation is sued by the customer or even one of its own employees.
Beyond the issue of personal dishonesty, the usage of VoIP call recording technology can reduce the complexity of handling government regulations. The burden of proof regarding any compliance issue is placed solely on the business. Therefore it is extremely important to be able to record a specific interaction in case it is questioned later.
Whenever compliance is questioned, the retrieval speed of the recordings is extremely critical. It is important that the system in place allows a manager to search for archived recordings with specific attributes, such as the date, the time, the user, the caller ID, the e-mail sender, and any other information that pertains to a specific participant.
VoIP call recording allows the call in question and the desired information to be retrieved quickly and with ease. The retriever can conveniently listen to the recording online using the service provider’s Web interface, or he can choose to have a link with the recorded call sent to a desired e-mail account. Because most calls are recorded in a .wav or mp3 format, a media player is needed to listen to the calls with a computer.
According to the Yankee Group, the number of VoIP users will jump to 10 million by the end of 2007. VoIP call recording is an essential player in the VoIP solutions industry, as it can save companies thousands of dollars in time-consuming and unwarranted lawsuits, as well as monitor employee and customer loyalties.
Sid Rao is the chief technologist of CTI Group (www.CTIgroup.com), a premier global provider of enterprise-wide software engines and systems in the information technology industry.