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Buyer's Guide

by Daniel Harris,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 15, 2017

In order to attract and retain customers, businesses need to make sure that they’re following best practices in customer interactions. If these interactions take place over the phone, call recording needs to be in place for adequate quality control.

While call recording is nearly universal in contact centers, there are a number of ways to implement it ranging from server-based to cloud-based strategies. Moreover, some solutions offer advanced options for businesses with specialized needs and businesses in specific industries.

We’ll take a look at the available options to help you decide on the right software to support your business’s call recording needs. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is Call Recording Software?
Common Types of Call Recording Software
Common Functionality of Call Recording Software
What Type of Buyer Are You?

What Is Call Recording Software?

Call recording software captures digital audio recordings of telephone conversations over a Voice over IP (VoIP) or public switched telephone network (PTSN). Many solutions employ packet-sniffing technology to detect audio calls and automatically record them. The software packages and stores the digital audio file so it can be played back and analyzed. This analysis can be done for any number of reasons, including training and quality assurance.

Quality assurance teams or departments often also implement similar but separate call monitoring solutions, which allow them to listen in on live calls as they're happening. Call recording software, on the other hand, differs in that it also facilitates the recording of calls to listen to after the call has happened. Call monitoring is almost exclusively about ensuring agents are providing a good customer experience, and is generally used alongside other quality assurance tactics like training programs and one-on-one agent coaching. Call recording is often used for a similar purpose, but may also be used for such purposes as record keeping and compliance.

Common Types of Call Recording Software

As we’ve mentioned, call recording can be implemented in a variety of different ways. Your implementation strategy should be guided by the volume of calls you need to record as well as the ways in which you want to initiate call recording.

Some businesses need on-demand, employee-initiated call recording. This allows agents to record problem calls in the moment, and other business users can use call recording for storing important conversations (meetings, interviews etc.).

Generally, however, call centers need to record either a statistically significant sampling of their calls, or all of their calls. This kind of call recording requires specialized solutions for contact centers.

There are three basic types of systems that offer different levels of call recording capabilities:

  • Standard office phone (PBX) system: PBX systems generally incorporate user-initiated call recording as a feature. Users can initiate call recording from software clients installed on their laptops and mobile devices or from their desk phones. Typically, this form of call recording only works for businesses with ad hoc recording needs. Call recordings are stored in various locations with this deployment model. Some systems dump recordings directly from IP phones to external hard drives or USB flash drives, whereas others store them on cloud servers accessed by users. This haphazard approach to storing recordings won’t work for contact centers that need to record and store all calls. If you’re only interested in user-initiated call recording, please reference our listing of PBX systems.
  • Best-of-breed solution: There are many "best of breed" or standalone call recording systems on the market. These systems identify and intercept phone call data that passes through the network. They then record, package and store the audio on a cloud server or a server located on your business’s premises. Some best-of-breed options are hardware-based, and generally require the deployment of a special device between your PBX system and network switch(es). Increasingly, cloud-based solutions are also hitting the market. Best-of-breed options support recording of a random sampling of calls or all calls, but may not support user-initiated call recording. Moreover, they don’t typically support recording of interactions that take place in other media (e.g., SMS text, web chat, email etc.).
  • Call center software solution: Call center systems are specialized phone and multimedia systems designed for the needs of both inbound and outbound contact centers. In addition to phone calls, contact center systems enable agents to interact via channels such as email, SMS text, instant messaging, web chat etc. Typically, contact center systems support both agent-initiated call recording and automated recording of all calls. Contact center systems can also record interactions that take place in other media, and can even record the actions that agents take in software applications for interactions that are primarily guided by software. Moreover, contact center systems include advanced quality management modules that offer capabilities such as speech and text analytics. These forms of analytics determine customers’ feelings about interactions by analyzing keywords and tones (in the case of spoken interactions). With quality management, it’s possible to evaluate 100 percent of your calls.

Common Functionality of Call Recording Software

On-demand call recording Employees can initiate recording, as opposed to the system automatically selecting calls to record.
Call recording rules Supervisors can set rules for which calls to record based on agent, caller ID info, extension etc.
Remote monitoring Enables users to listen to live calls for quality assurance without disturbing the conversation.
Pause and resume live recordings Lets agents pause a recording during the conversation (for example, if they have to put the client on hold to complete a task).
Online dashboard Provides details on a collection of recordings, including: date, time, length of recording and any other data fields assigned to the file. Many systems can filter recordings by category and subcategory.
Speech and text analytics Speech analytics enables the automated scoring and categorization of calls via analysis of callers’ vocal tones (frustrated, happy etc.) and keywords in the conversation. Text analytics allows for categorization of text-based interactions (emails, web chats etc.) via detection of keywords. These features are typically found in the quality management modules of advanced call center systems.
Desktop analytics Allows for the recording and analysis of agent interactions that take place in software applications. Supervisors define a workflow for using the application (e.g. a standard sequence of selections in a CRM system as agents move through the call), and can then track agents’ behaviors in the application and the time they spend using it.
Encryption and masking features for PCI Compliance Contact centers that deal with payment card data will generally need to avoid storing this data after processing to ensure compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. Speech analytics can be used to detect payment card information in audio files, and text analytics as well as other methods can be used to analyze textual data. Sensitive information in textual data can then be encrypted or deleted, and white noise can be added to recordings in places where callers provide sensitive information.
Quality management Quality management modules are found in call center suites, and some vendors also sell them on a standalone basis. They typically include call recording in addition to advanced features like speech and text analytics. These modules also supported templated evaluation forms to enable systematic manual evaluation of calls by supervisors, and push metrics from these evaluations to agent dashboards.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

Now that you know your call recording software options, you can determine which system is best for you.

Call Recording Solutions

Call Recording Software Solutions


To get a bit more specific:

  • Businesses that only need on-demand recording should go with a PBX system.
  • Contact centers that primarily operate via phone interactions should look into best-of-breed solutions, especially if they’re not looking to replace all of their software and hardware infrastructure.
  • Contact centers that emphasize coaching and training should look into systems with quality management modules or standalone quality management solutions in order to integrate these activities with the evaluation of call recordings.
  • Multimedia contact centers will need a full contact center suite with speech and text analytics, since basic call recording solutions don’t record interactions over channels such as email.
  • Contact centers in which agents heavily use applications such as CRM applications should look into desktop analytics to supplement call recording, as otherwise supervisors won’t get insights into how agents are interacting with the CRM system, only the customer.
  • Contact centers that deal with payment card information will need a solution that supports encryption and/or masking of this information, and they may need speech or text analytics as well in order to detect payment card information in recorded interactions.

Regardless of which solution you choose, call recording capabilities can provide invaluable insights into the quality of the interactions your contact center handles and the performance of your agents. This explains why call recording software is the top user-requested feature for call center software buyers that have contacted us. It’s also one of the top six user-requested features for VoIP buyers we’ve interacted with who are looking for a new solution.

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