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Is It Necessary to Monitor Business Calls and Messages?

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Last updated February 29th, 2024 by Simon Rodgers in Monitoring

Call center with people communicating

Imagine a scenario in which you take a call from a customer who tells you that a customer service agent promised them a full refund. This confuses you because the reasons do not meet the criteria for a refund. However, you have no evidence to prove the customer is telling the truth. Now, if only you could check what had been said on the call.

Enter call monitoring. The global call center market alone is expected to reach $741.7 billion by 2030. But should you be monitoring your company's business calls and messages? What benefits will it bring, and how can you ensure you comply with any legal and ethical requirements?

What is call monitoring?

Cartoon people on a headsets

As the name suggests, call monitoring is the process of listening to calls and monitoring business messages. Its primary goals are to improve customer service and communication while offering protection to both your organization and the employee. You may combine different monitoring types just as you might look at custom monitoring solutions across your business.

It's most commonly found in call center settings but can be used when your employees are in contact with your customers.

Usually, call monitoring is carried out by specialized software offering various functions. While you may hear it called different names - such as call logging or agent monitoring - it is, in effect, all call monitoring. It can also be beneficial regarding training, as it lets new employees know what standards are expected and what not to do.

The different types of call monitoring

A grumpy customer service rep

Going back to contact centers, any call center management system worth its salt will have various options regarding call monitoring. The most common types you might encounter include:

  • Silent monitoring. With silent monitoring, a manager or supervisor can listen to an ongoing call without the agent or the customer knowing they are doing so. In most cases, this will be done to see how well an agent performs or ensure that your agents have the required knowledge to deal with calls efficiently.
  • Barge monitoring. By using barge monitoring, the person listening to the call can 'jump in' and communicate with both the customer and the agent. This will often be used when the agent is struggling or when a call needs to be escalated and needs managerial input.
  • Whisper monitoring. This allows you to listen to an active call and communicate with the agent without the customer knowing you are on the line. This can be very useful for training purposes as it lets the 'listener' coach the agent through the call. If an agent is new or is unsure about something, that 'voice in their ear' can help them work through a call successfully.
  • Call recording. This is usually done with all calls (where legal) and can be done in conjunction with any other type of call monitoring. It can help with new employees or for other reasons such as analyzing data or marketing purposes. Trainers may use recorded calls to illustrate how to handle a call (or particular situation) and how not to.

Is call monitoring legal?

Two pieces of paper. Illegal & legal written on them.

The million-dollar question could cost you that much if you don't comply with the various laws and regulations governing data protection and call recording. It comes down to the issue of consent, specifically the consent of the customer to have their call - and data - recorded. It's essential to note here that the laws around consent can vary from state to state, and you should look at what is required in the state(s) you operate in.

The primary legislation that allows call monitoring is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA). The ECPA lets organizations monitor all the verbal and written communications of their employees as long as they have a business-related reason for doing so. Knowing what federal and state laws apply can be the foundation of how you operate.

In most cases, Federal law requires one-party consent to record a call. But some states also require two-party consent. It's essential that you understand that laws and regulations apply not only based on where you are based but also where the customer lives. Non-compliance with any pertinent laws or regulations can lead to substantive penalties.

The benefits of call monitoring

Half-empty monitoring center

If you're considering buying a contact center solution that comes with call monitoring capability, you will want to know what benefits will come from being able to monitor any business-related communications. Organizations will use call monitoring for a variety of reasons, and those reasons can include several of the following benefits:

1. Coaching

Coaching and training is not something that only applies to new employees, but it is, of course, crucial for that group. With silent or whisper monitoring, managers (or trainers) can either guide an agent through the intricacies of a call or later give feedback to that agent. Recorded calls can also be used in other training scenarios, such as providing examples of how to or not to handle a call.

2. Intervention

Employees usually have good knowledge of the business they work for and the products or services provided. However, there can be calls where the query falls outside their knowledge base or even where the customer is upset and/or belligerent. Barge monitoring allows a manager to intervene in a call and assist the agent (and customer) in finding a solution.

3. Agent performance

As mentioned, coaching and training is not just for new employees. Your metrics may show that a particular agent is not performing as well as expected. Managers can utilize call recording to identify any shortcomings that may need to be addressed with further training. They can play back the call with the agent to focus on different areas of their performance and look to improve in the future. You probably monitor your web pages, so why not your staff?

4. Company performance

Monitoring metrics may not only identify knowledge and skills gaps of individual agents, but it may also highlight cross-company gaps. This could be down to insufficient training on new products or services or other reasons. Call monitoring can tell you if staff need extra training and/or coaching to bring the whole team up to your required standards.

5. Data

You gather data from several sources, and call monitoring can also be an invaluable source of data. It can help you make informed decisions in several areas and can help supplement the other sources you use. With an all-around view of data, it can help you identify any areas in your company that are problematic or causing customer issues.

6. Remote working

If any of your workforce is working a remote or hybrid pattern, you want to be sure there is no disconnection. Remote access lies at the heart of successful remote/hybrid working, and call monitoring can ensure that employees comply with relevant laws and work to company standards.

7. Ongoing learning

Things change, products and services change, and even people change. Call monitoring can help foster an ongoing learning environment where people know that they are being monitored and seek to learn things that will improve their performance and be ready to learn details when a new product or service is introduced.

8. Security

As well as laws and regulations about call monitoring, you may have to comply with laws about how your business handles customer data. These can include laws such as FACT (2003), the Fair and Accurate Credit Transitions Act or HIPAA (1996), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Call monitoring can help ensure that your staff is complying with all regulations when handling sensitive information and other security issues.

As you can see, call monitoring can offer your business a number of benefits. The purpose is not just to improve the efficiency and performance of your organization but also to improve customer satisfaction levels and the customer experience as a whole. Seeing those things as the goals of call monitoring underlines its usefulness.

With the wide availability of call monitoring software and systems, it can also be a cost-effective solution that can lead to improved efficiency and lower costs without breaking the bank. It's not reserved for the call center sector either; call monitoring can benefit any business where there is verbal or written communication between your staff and your customers.

The takeaway

Five ladies talking through headsets

Call monitoring is necessary in modern business with so much emphasis on providing quality customer service and experiences. It works for both parties involved: you as a business and your customers. It can also save you money on several levels, which your C-suite will always be happy with.

The important thing to remember is always to be aware of any relevant laws and regulations that govern your industry and apply to your location and the location of your customers. From training purposes to conflict resolution, call monitoring is more than a necessary tool; it's essential.

Simon Rodgers

Simon Rodgers is a tech-savvy digital marketing expert with more than 20 years of experience in the field. He is engaged in many projects, including the remote monitoring service WebSitePulse. He loves swimming and skiing and enjoys an occasional cold beer in his spare time.

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