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AT&T announced it was introducing a pilot system to its Customer Service Relations (CSR) for recording customers’ calls as well as analyzing content and voice, and in particular for deduction, which will also be based on parallel search in for information in social networks.

Nearly each private or public organization, in Israel and worldwide, which provides customer service over the phone to the general public, records most of the incoming calls to its customer service center. Some of these organizations record all the calls. The stated purpose of recording calls is “improving the service”.

What else do the major corporations (cellular providers, banks, health funds, energy companies, etc.) do with the millions of calls they have recorded and stored? How do the recordings take place and what, in fact, are the technological systems at CSRs?

The ihls_logo50 no slogen technology desk is going to set the record straight once and for all about the recorded calls at call centers

CSR recording systems for incoming calls have become a major and inseparable part of the array of support technologies at any major organization with a call center. They are used as a critical management tool by the service, marketing and executive divisions of these companies for the purposes of providing service, monitoring malfunctions, marketing and sales.

Nevertheless, the recording systems are only part, albeit significant, of the assortment of technological terms at the disposal of customer service.

The course of incoming calls to call centers begins with a call routing system, which applies some of the features of Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) systems in order to optimally direct calls to specialized and available representatives, but also in order to “buy time” and regulate call queues during busy times and even in order to “get rid” of those with whom the company may prefer, in some cases, not to engage.

Before the call reaches the rep, the customer’s details are uploaded from the company’s computer systems, including those that may be relevant to the call and to the customer’s “quality grade”. The call also affords the company the chance of an upsell, which the rep may pitch. Synchronizing the call to the rep’s station complete with all the customer details is critical, and among the tools at the reps’ disposal are online logs and journals which enable making records that may be printed and sent to customer by way of call summary.

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From the moment a call enters the call center, it is recorded by dedicated systems capable of handling hundreds and even thousands of calls. Each call must have an accurate time-stamp of its entry time and finish, complete with an indexed call description for future file retrieval in the form of an audio-file for various organizational uses.

These uses of recorded calls are many and varied, including genuine company attempts to improve service, but they are also used for practice and training, log record in case of dispute with customers – which is even admissible in many courts – marketing segmentation and so on.

Innovative recording and voice recognition systems (also) feature voice diagnostics enabling reps to identify a customer who is angry and disgruntled, and therefore requires attention, compensation and calming down, or a satisfied and happy customer whose call can also be used as a launching pad for an upsell. Recently, a producer of such call recording systems has featured fraud detection complete with a revolutionary marketing pitch promising the system for merely the cost of the relative decrease in the expenses on theft or fraud installing companies will have saved.

A mass of simultaneous incoming calls to call centers may be a significant sign or feedback for a malfunction (e.g., an energy company, a communications provider) or public order event (car accident, fire and so on). CSR systems that direct the calls to the various call centers are capable of tracing their origin and deduce (using additional call features) effective operative conclusions, thereby dispatching first response teams or better prepare for unfolding events. Since CSR systems are interactive, the organizations can quickly or even automatically add an announcement played to waiting callers telling them the event is addressed – thereby saving on resources on the one hand and saving customers’ waiting time on the other.

And now for the issue of privacy: each company has its own rules and procedures for using recorded material. Authorizations to play them are given to all sorts of employees (sometimes even junior employees), generally without the caller’s consent to use his or her voice, call information or other details divulged in the course of the conversation, for the purpose of training or some other sue.