They could be calling for any number of reasons—to pay a bill, to ask about a package being shipped, to ask for technical advice or support, or to have a good old-fashioned gripe about something they’re not happy about.

In the vast majority of cases, being friendly and helpful is a must for a call center agent. It's non-negotiable for customer service. But what you’re really measured on is whether you got the job done: did you solve the customer’s issue (in a timely manner)?

If you manage a call center, then there’s one thing that’ll help you make sure that your call center agents are performing. And it’s actually a simple one: record your calls.

But why exactly (and how) can you do this? Are there laws you have to follow? How can you make sure that call recording is actually helping your team’s goals?

How easy is it really to do? (Spoiler alert: Really easy, if you have the right tools.)

What is call center recording, exactly?

It’s pretty simple—call center recording is the process used, in call centers, of course, to record and monitor all inbound and outbound call activity.

Having these call center recordings lets you do things like confirm details at any time and coach agents by understanding customer interactions.

This can include the audio content of any call, as well as contact center screen recordings, which gives you a better look at agents’ workflows). That recorded call info is stored and you can later retrieve and review them if you need to.

While most people focus on the conversation between an agent and customer, you can actually also record what happens on the computer screen as the call is going on, which includes any notes or information that your agent enters. This allows managers or supervisors to use call recordings to see what actions the agent took alongside what was said, which can be very useful.

To record these calls, some contact centers use specific software or apps that integrate with their phone system—but an easier way is to just choose a phone or contact center platform that comes with integrated recording functionality.

For example, Dialpad Contact Center makes it easy to both set up basic call recording and organize recordings—all on your own, without expensive IT help. It literally takes a few clicks:

What are call recordings used for?

So why would you bother to record calls? Can it really make a difference in how you train your new hires and improve the customer experience? Yes and yes.

(And as we'll see later, you have to record calls while storing data safely to comply with local regulations. 

And we’ll show you a few key ways you can use the calls you’ve recorded and stored.

👉Dialpad tip: Interested in call center recordings—but worried about privacy and security? You're not alone! That's the cool thing about Dialpad's Recording and Voice Intelligence API—they allow you to automatically pause recording and/or transcription when your agents are taking sensitive information. (For example, when they open up a particular screen or field to take down healthcare information—and restart recording/transcription once they close that window.)

1. Customer service improvements

If your business is in any way customer-centered (and most should be!), then you’ll probably want to continually improve your customer service.

Listening to previous calls lets you check that the team is following your rules or protocols. Plus, being able to review recordings also lets you easily see any gaps in the customer service and what customers are complaining about most.

For instance, in Dialpad, you can create a playlist of customer call recordings that highlight where there’s room for improvement:

This can make it easier as you’re coming up with ideas on how to improve your customer service on the phone.

2. Training

One of the biggest problems that call centers have is a high staff turnover rate. Let’s face it. Call center agents burn out often and quickly—it’s not an easy job.

And if you’re managing a call center, this means you’re almost constantly training new staff. And ultimately, it affects your bottom line.

Training is important, of course, but recorded calls can be an easy way for new hires to learn on their own and understand the right and wrong ways to field calls. They can also help with advanced training for existing staff.

For example, Dialpad is especially helpful with training because not only does it allow you to record calls, it also automatically sends out a convenient post-call summary so that your agents can review how things went:

3. Dispute resolution

Wouldn’t it be great if every call went smoothly and 100% of your customers went away happy? Of course, that doesn’t happen for a number of reasons. And most call centers get disputes or complaints every day.

Having recordings of calls can help solve a lot of these disputes, especially in “he said / she said / they said” cases. (It’s also worth noting that a recorded call can sometimes act as a verbal contract.)

4. Compliance

Your business may be in an industry that has strict laws and regulations that it has to follow in every region you operate. Having recordings of the calls can protect you—and may be the difference between a minor disagreement and a lawsuit.

This also overlaps a bit with training, since you can use these records to check that agents are following the rules when it comes to things like identity checks.

5. Building a customer experience strategy

Last but not least, call center recordings are essential for understanding your customers. It sounds fluffy, but this opens the door for you to do more impactful things, like plan for more strategic customer interactions and target them more effectively for sales and marketing campaigns. (Not technically customer service related, but important all the same!)

👉 Dialpad tip: Recordings are nice, but speech analytics can make it even easier to understand customer behavior. For example, Dialpad’s Voice Intelligence (Vi) technology helps you learn more from the conversations you have with customers. Not only does it transcribe your customer calls in real time (even more accurately than Google can), it also logs action items as they come up on a call:

The legalities of call recording

You probably already know that US laws can be a complex maze—especially when you have to consider both federal and state legislation.

That’s also true when it comes to recording calls in your contact center. But there is one well-worn phrase that you need to keep front and center:

“This call may be monitored or recorded for quality and training purposes.”

Not being aware of relevant laws and not complying with the requirements could end up costing you. In 2016, Wells Fargo had to pay out an $8.5 million settlement for not complying with California’s call recording law. (California has the strictest laws of this type.)

There are two main concepts (and one exception) governing the recording of any sort of telephone conversations, whether business phone calls or personal:

  1. One-party consent. 38 states and DC operate this form of consent for any type of recorded consent.

  2. Two-party consent. 11 states operate this where ALL parties must give consent for a call to be recorded

  3. Interestingly, Vermont has no law in place for this, so would be a one-party consent state under federal law.

Úsing the handy phrase (or a variation of), “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality and training purposes,” lets your customer the call will be recorded and that if they choose to proceed, they’re consenting to that happening.

Of course, you can’t always just automatically record inbound and outbound calls. That’s why with Dialpad, you can make sure you’re complying with the laws of different states by setting up exceptions for any locations you need to. There’s even the option of recording only the agent’s side of the conversation and not the customer’s—which can still help with quality control and dispute resolution.

Now, the other laws... Yes, in some cases, you need to consider other regulatory requirements beyond the simple idea of recording information:

  1. PCI compliance. Payment card industry compliance comes from the credit card providers, and governs what can and cannot be discussed or recorded. The PCI’s data security standards (DSS) includes; “12 key requirements, 78 base requirements, and 400 test procedures to ensure that organizations are PCI-compliant.” Yep. It’s a lot.

  2. PHI compliance. If your organization is in any way connected to healthcare, then this is something you need to consider. PHI (protected health information) is governed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). If you’re dealing with clients’ health information, make sure that any recording complies with these regulations.

If you do operate in this sector, it’s worth considering using a platform, like Dialpad, that’s compliant with HIPAA requirements.

3 types of call recording software

Not all call recording software is created equal, so you need to think about what type best will meet your business needs and will help with compliance.

1. Call center software

As the name suggests, call center software is a special type of software that can capture audio (and sometimes screen) recordings of calls to or from a call center. Most of these apps allow you to not only take the call, but also record it and store the recording—all in one convenient place.

Some solutions may even give you the option of monitoring calls live so that managers and supervisors can listen in to make sure that agents are providing a good customer experience. (Especially helpful for coaching new hires!)

Generally, it’s best to choose a platform that covers all your bases. Even if you’re a relatively small contact center at the moment, you’ll need a good, scalable solution if you plan to grow.

For example, with Dialpad, all the recording features you need are built right into the app and you can listen to all your recordings in one place:

No need to download a bunch of third-party apps and have multiple windows or tabs open.

2. A PBX phone system

A traditional, or some may say old-fashioned, system, PBX stands for “Private Branch Exchange.” These are private phone systems within a business that allows you to make and receive calls internally (and sometimes externally).

There are different types of PBX, like VoIP, ISDN, or analog—you can learn more about them here.

Typically, the admin of the PBX system can set up the call recording feature, and you can choose to have them start automatically on any highlighted extension or when you hit a record button during the actual call itself.

👉 Dialpad tip: If you’re considering switching to a cloud phone system from your on-premises or PBX system, Dialpad will help you port all your old PBX numbers over—no expensive IT consultants needed.

3. Other third-party software

The third type of call recording solution is, well, whatever your agents are using on their own because you haven’t given them a tool to use.

This is possibly the worst choice for a call center, especially if you’re already taking tens or hundreds of customer calls a day, because there’s no consistency. Everyone’s recording their calls using a different app, and there’s no easy way to access all your recordings in one place.

(And don’t get us started on the security issues.)

Even if your team is small and scrappy now, the recording of calls is a big thing to plan for. There are legal questions, and also just huge impacts it can have on your customer experience as you grow. If you’re using option 3 right now, make a plan to get off of it as soon as you can.

The 6 top benefits of call center recording

As a manager or supervisor of a contact center, what are the actual tangible benefits that come from implementing call recordings? There are a few important ones.

1. More detailed records

Customer data is one of the most valuable resources you have access to. Your conversations with them can tell you what they’re happy with, what they’re not happy with, what they need, and much, much more. Don’t underestimate this information!

You can store recorded calls in your contact center’s CRM (customer relationship management) software so that you have access whenever you need it. Or, an easier way is to use a CRM that comes with a CTI (computer telephony integration) feature.

What this means is that you can dial customers and receive calls—right in the CRM—and that info is then automatically stored in that customer’s profile in the CRM. For example, Dialpad has a Salesforce integration that does exactly this:

With more comprehensive records, you can monitor and analyze a wide range of metrics that can help you build your contact center strategy.

2. Better real-time feedback for agents

With such high turnover in the call center industry, there’s a good chance that you’ll constantly have new agents in training. While some “classroom” training is pretty much required, it’s the live experience of talking to customers that offers the biggest benefit to new agents.

And if you want to use real customer conversations for quality management, then Dialpad is designed to help you do exactly that. For instance, when you review your call recordings, you might notice that certain questions keep coming up from customers—and these might be tricky to handle.

So, you create a Real-time Assist (RTA) card, which is kind of like a cheat sheet for this question:

You can set this card to pop up on your agent’s screen during a call when a keyword is spoken. In this example, a customer asked a question about porting their phone number, which triggered this RTA card to pop up with a tip for the agent.

Not only does this make your agents’ jobs easier, it also helps new hires find their footing more quickly too. All thanks to an insight you discovered from listening to call recordings!

3. Faster resolutions for customer complaints

Mistakes happen. Confusion happens. Being able to go back and review previous calls can help you solve any potential issues quickly and easily.

For example, say a customer disputes a shipping charge. They insist that your agent offered free shipping on the phone. By reviewing the call recording, you can quickly work out what really happened.

Miscommunication is unavoidable, and may be nobody’s fault. There can be many reasons why someone misunderstands what was said during a call. Call reviews offer a smooth and (relatively) painless way of sorting these out without relying on agents’ or customers’ recollections of what happened.

4. Easier quality assurance

Whether you’re running a contact center or a talk desk, one of your primary objectives is to provide good—or ideally great—customer service. But how do you assess that?

Reviewing recorded calls allows you to see and hear the quality of your customer support directly. This way, you can easily understand both the strengths and weaknesses in the approaches and scripts used by your agents.

Using call recordings for quality management also allows you to plan different aspects of call provision. You can tailor automated responses in your voicemail, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), or even announcements for being on hold or waiting times.

(Or you might be reviewing a call and realize that you can customize a script more effectively for a certain customer question.)

5. Tips for product improvements

Recorded calls can not only help highlight areas where contact center agents could perform better, they may also highlight more general things your company could improve.

A regular general review of calls can be a great way of listening to customer voices. (Both literally and figuratively!)

For example, say you just launched a new product to the market. Your call center is then receiving numerous calls complaining about a certain issue. By reviewing a sample set of those calls, you can nail down exactly what the issue is, report back to the relevant product team, and get it resolved quickly to boost customer satisfaction and retention.

6. More secure legal compliance

The advantage of having a call recording feature goes beyond just call monitoring and making sure your business meets required regulations.

In case a legal dispute or litigation involving your business does crop up, any calls relating to the subject may end up being valuable evidence if and when the matter comes to court.

Call center recordings: A key tool for contact center managers

No matter how big or small your team is, call center recording is essential in running a modern contact center.

From quality control to compliance, a good call recording solution can go a long way in improving your customer experience—and without adding headcount. Before making a decision as to which call recording system best meets your team’s needs, make sure to outline what your actual recording needs are.

How strict are the recording laws in your state or country? How many calls are you taking a day? How many recordings will you need to store and organize?

Try to find an all-around contact center call recordings solution that not only lets you make and record calls but also integrates with the tools you’re already using. (Your CRM is probably the big one here.)