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Most companies take a very practical, direct approach to call recording. They record calls because they must, by law (particularly if they are in financial services or healthcare). They record calls because it’s necessary to evaluate agents’ job performance and find out who is ripe for promotion or raises, and who needs a pep talk.

Call center experts, however, say call recording in the call center has much broader applications that can help boost efficiency, save money, retain customers and increase sales. Essentially, it’s a way to monitor the quality of customer service offered and uncover areas that can be improved.

“Call center recording systems enable you to capture your customer interactions and learn what went right or wrong during the call so you can go back and fix any problems,” blogged Kevin Levi of open-source call recording company OrecX. “You can also use the call recording system to monitor agents to learn why they are successful and unsuccessful so you can go back and better train them.”

While old-style call recording solutions only allowed you to understand what the call center had done wrong in the past, recording today is more of a real-time activity that allows you to make changes on-the-fly so you can salvage customer relationships that are clearly becoming problematic.

Levi recommends that companies set up alerts for managers and supervisors or (if it’s a larger company) customer defection specialists who can immediately take steps to salvage a relationship if it shows signs of trouble. In addition, forward-thinking companies should query, identify and flag all recorded customer calls in which the customer has indicated dissatisfaction. You can then have your best agents reach out to these customers, perhaps offering a discount or other incentive, or ensure that you route these customers to personnel with good customer retention skills the next time they call in.

Call recordings can also be used to hold “rapid-fire” training sessions, or brief, mini training modules narrowly focused on a certain skill. Agents generally retain this knowledge better if it comes with a practical example (a real-world call) and is doled out in small doses rather than in long classroom sessions.

Companies can go even further with their call recordings by applying analytics technologies, which can yield all sorts of intelligence about operations and customers that a human would never have the time or skill to accomplish. This way, you can keep a real-time finger on the pulse of operations and take steps to mitigate problems before they even occur.