How VoIP Recording Impacts Customer Service

It's becoming inevitable that voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will soon be deployed everywhere, from offices and homes to carriers' backbones. The move from traditional circuit-switched to package-switched network technology will have a significant business impact. While much has been written about how VoIP can decrease the cost of phone service, the business value of implementing a VoIP system does not stop there.

Benefits of VoIP Technology

VoIP reduces cost, complexity and administrative overhead because control of telephony applications is managed by software running on PC servers rather than on a dedicated telephony switch. However, VoIP allows organizations of all sizes to exploit advances in telephony infrastructure that could affect a business well beyond simply reducing telephone charges.

For multisite enterprises with separate voice and data networks, VoIP provides a means of integrating the networks, reducing costs and achieving better utilization from the shared infrastructure. In the call center, for example, the true value of VoIP includes recording conversations.

With a VoIP system in place, enterprises can implement recording technology both within the call center and throughout the entire organization. This improves customer service efforts, optimizes the workforce and improves related business processes. Further, the insight that's gained from call recordings is shared with other parts of the business.

In addition, VoIP is extremely easy to use. Interactions with customers can be recorded automatically at the touch of a button. These conversations can then be shared via e-mail or retrieved at a later date using a variety of selection criteria in order to gather information that can impact customer service and the entire organization, from upper-management to the sales force to call center agents. Analyzing these recorded interactions is becoming essential as businesses seek a competitive advantage from a better understanding of their customers and a more effective approach to internal and external communication.

Organizations are also using VoIP to improve customer service by instituting a home-based agent model. By some accounts, there are approximately 100,000 virtual contact center agents in the U.S. VoIP technology allows calls to be routed seamlessly and inexpensively to agents working in the central facility or to their counterparts in satellite locations.

Improving Customer Service

The demand for call recording has increased dramatically in recent years as businesses face the competitive challenge of improving customer service, optimizing the workforce, improving business processes and complying with new legal requirements. Because it's software-based, VoIP recording can be less expensive than digital recording. Also, no complex installation is necessary because recording requires only a server to run the software and a data switch for port mirroring (a method of monitoring network traffic). Since a VoIP call recording system is managed and maintained like any other software program, the incremental cost of adding remote sites is negligible.

A challenge that businesses continue to struggle with, however, is the demand for timely data needed to develop business strategies. As a result, the fundamental definition of a "customer" has changed. Once narrowly thought of as an individual or organization that purchased goods and services, the definition has broadened to include all key enterprise departments that have a stake in the success of the organization. As a result, internal departments rely on one another to meet customer demands.

For example, marketing relies on sales for external customer feedback. In turn, engineering relies on marketing and sales to translate market needs into actionable product development information. VoIP delivers to the enterprise a degree of intelligence that, until now, was typically available only within the call center.

Using a VoIP system -- especially in the case of call recording -- allows individuals and departments throughout the enterprise to access and act on data associated with every interaction within the company. A wealth of customer and business information is immediately and cost-effectively available for analysis and action throughout the organization. Traditional, circuit-switched phone models can't efficiently provide businesses with this capability -- if at all.

Businesses evaluate returns on investment when making capital purchase decisions. Investments in a VoIP system can produce a significant ROI if an enterprise fully evaluates options for maximizing the customer service and other business benefits of VoIP. While it may be the future of business telephony, the overall value of VoIP extends far beyond simply saving money on a phone bill.

Greg Sherry is the director of marketing and business development at Witness Systems, a global provider of workforce optimization software and services. Contact the author at

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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