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Industry Research : Call Centre Voice Recording Market Developments 2004

As call centres have developed into multi-channel contact centres, the call centre voice recording market has followed suit. From its roots in liability and compliance recording within the financial services space, market-leading vendors have grown their functional product portfolios to include non-voice interactions such as web, email and text chat.

The majority of call recording implementations now utilise some form of CTI integration to ensure the integrity of the call indexing information (or 'tagging'). This is particularly important in compliance recording environments where the ability to retrieve specific calls is a key requirement. CTI implementations range from the relatively straightforward use of CT-Connect to complex Genesys integration environments where CTI is used to start and stop voice and screen recording as agents access specific screens on their desktop.

The migration of many call centre environments to IP is also generating activity in the call recording market. Some vendors' 'migration strategy' towards IP requires a 'fork lift' upgrade, where complete call recording infrastructures are replaced. Others require relatively simple hardware changes while others provide simple software upgrades. Most vendors can now support traditional TDM environments and IP on the same hardware platform.

In line with the move to IP most vendors are also developing their hardware platforms towards more 'open' environments. In this case 'open' tends to equate to Intel and Microsoft. This has led to significant cost reductions in call recording hardware as standard servers can be used even in large-scale environments. Many potential purchasers in compliance environments are assessing the suitability of these new products in a mission- and business- critical role. Some early adopters have successfully implemented these solutions and are realising significant benefits.

Other developments have led to the majority of voice recording applications being developed in a browser environment. This offers significant advantages in a 'hot-desking' call centre operation, where agents and team leaders can log on at any desk and have access to their relevant applications.

The integration of the call recording system with the agent's desktop application is becoming more common. This type of integration can be used to control the timing of voice and screen recording. The security checks of a financial transaction, for example, such as speaking or entering a password can be removed from the voice and screen recording. In addition the call indexing information can be enhanced with data from the desktop system, making it possible to search for calls with a certain account number or a specific product or sale value.

As call recording moves more and more into the corporate computing environment, integration with Storage Area Networks (SANs) and Network Attached Storage (NAS) has become increasingly important. These systems provide the capability to archive calls and their associated data to a company's corporate data storage systems. This archiving can be selective, allowing specific calls or types of calls to be archived for defined periods of time to specific media.

Several vendors are now claiming to offer the integration of tools from speech recognition vendors that allow word spotting, talk over analysis and voice stress analysis. These tools make it possible to detect when a customer uses the name of a competitor, when the call centre agent and customer are talking at the same time and when either the customer, agent or both have a level of stress in their voice.

The Move To Workforce Optimisation
Workforce Optimisation is the generic term used to package a set of highly specialised and business critical tools. These include: workforce management, voice recording, agent evaluation and agent analytics.

In 2003, according to Datamonitor, $695million worth of the global call centre budget was spent on Workforce Optimisation Technology (WOT). Datamonitor estimates this will total increase to $1.2billion by 2008. Quality monitoring will continue to draw the largest investment. Spend on agent analytics and eLearning technologies will show the fastest growth with compound annual growth rates of 26 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

Workforce Optimisation solutions form component parts of an inter-locking and inter-dependent solution chain for call centres. Their aim is two-fold; to improve the efficiency of call centre operations, and to maximise the effectiveness of agents working in the call centre. Call centres can adopt one or more of these solutions to create a workforce optimisation solution to tackle the problems they face.

Workforce Optimisation Solutions Fall In To Four Broad Categories:

  1. Quality monitoring, the recording and analysis of telephone and data interactions between customer and call centre agent
     

  2. Workforce management, the efficient scheduling of human resources in call centres. Workforce management includes agent empowerment, where agents are able to take more control over their work. Scheduling solutions, as part of workforce management, can give agents some influence over their working days, as well as booking holidays and addressing their own time needs in relation to work
     

  3. Agent analytics, the analysis of agent performance using data from call centre sources. Agent analytics aim to empower agents through greater understanding of their own performance. Vendors in this area even offer systems whereby agents can be rewarded for improvements and better than average performance
     

  4. eLearning, the online delivery of training to call centre agents to improve their performance in key areas

Currently the Workforce Optimisation market is fragmented and, with no one dominant vendor, there will be a race between call recording and workforce management vendors to own this market. Already there are signs of this happening as workforce management vendors add agent analytics applications to their product offerings and as call recording vendors add eLearning and agent analytics to their own product portfolios.

Future Trends In Call Recording And Quality Monitoring
The market for call recording and quality monitoring will continue to grow but within three to four years will slowly reach saturation point. As this happens, more vendors will look to analytical applications as a means of enhancing their product portfolios. Few vendors currently offer integrated solutions; the future will see a higher degree of integrated packages as vendors attempt to add value to their existing product offerings.

Logging and quality monitoring are currently the two types of applications call recording vendors are offering. As a result, call recording vendors are upgrading their existing products either by increasing their sophistication, which most vendors are now doing, or by developing the analytical capability of their products. Developing the analytical capability of their solutions simply means using analytical methods to view and review the data recorded by the solution. As the market for quality monitoring and logging applications is reaching saturation, agent analytics is the most obvious market extension opportunity for call recording vendors.

Datapoint And Voice Recording
Datapoint has a straightforward and honest approach to delivering these services. We are able to offer advise on the optimum voice recording solution, taking into account the uniqueness of each call centre operation. We have considerable experience of implementing quality management programmes and have helped customers avoid the many traps that are often associated with assessing and improving agent performance.

No matter how good the technology, only the effective development and deployment of the change management processes and the design of efficient processes will obtain agent buy in, deliver measurable benefits and increase customer satisfaction. Business consulting leads the delivery of our solution. Our approach is to understand the high-level business objectives and key performance indicators and define how these can be assessed at the point of the agent/customer interaction. With many satisfied customers to prove it, Datapoint has the capability and track record to deliver such services: on time, within budget and to quality standards.

Whilst some vendors focus on the technological features in their products, Datapoint believes that even the most technologically advanced, lowest cost of ownership solution available in the marketplace must be backed-up with the highest quality implementation and support services in order to deliver measurable business benefits. This coupled with our proven track record, with many large 'blue-chip' clients across a variety of industry sectors, provides the confidence that Datapoint is the correct partner in which to place their trust for this important investment.


About Datapoint:
Datapoint began in the late 1960's as a company bringing to market the earliest versions of the desktop computer. A decade later it began producing switches for the embryonic call centre market and developed a competency in telephony which is evident today. Today, Datapoint provides call centre solutions and services. Technologies are sourced from partners plus an operational/commercial component designed in house to leverage the practical benefits of the technology. In each solution area, a choice of technologies is normally provided to suit different requirements, and resource and time is invested to maintain the expertise in these solutions. Datapoint has operations in the UK and Spain.

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Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2004

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