Thursday, 23 June 2011

Call Recording issues

In the past call recording has been the preserve of larger organisations, but the proliferation of 'on demand' PABX recording and the arrival of low cost 1300 number recording options has brought this within the reach of smaller businesses.

Call recording can be useful where your business wants to record that information or terms have been understood and accepted for legal reasons, or where you're running your own call centre and want to use this for training purposes.

Where you are outsourcing your calls to a contact centre, there probably isn't much point to record simple messages being taken, but used properly there can be some benefit with it to refine the handling of more complex services.

Important Considerations
You need to understand the difference from having staff that answer your calls all the time and know your business inside out, and the job of the contact centre generalist. The generalist gets little warning that this next call is for you, and has literally seconds to orient to your protocols. Simpler call handling protocols and higher volumes make their job easier, but be aware that it is inherently harder to answer for a range of businesses than for one you work in all the time. 

When you listen to calls you should also remember that the operator's perspective will differ from your own. A request that makes perfect sense to you, with your indepth experience, may not be so clear to a generalist. If the call isn't handled in the way you expect, pick a good call recording and one that you have concerns about, and send these to your Client Services support team for an opinion. They are better placed to understand what's going on in the call from both perspectives and can often recommend changes to the screen instructions or operator training that will make all the difference.

Legalities around Call Recording
When we record calls on your behalf, we play a message warning the caller that their call may be recorded for training or quality monitoring purposes. We also advise our operators that these calls are being recorded. This is a requirement of the federal Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979. 

The general rule under this Act is that calls may not be recorded, but there are a few exceptions.  Organisations are allowed to record calls to record instructions, provide a record in the event of a dispute, or monitor training or coaching of staff handling calls provided all parties to the call are warned at the beginning of the conversation that the call may be recorded or monitored. This provides people with the opportunity to end the call or ask to be transferred to another line where recording does not take place.

When you decide to record calls to your 1300 number, a message is played to this effect to your callers, but this is not heard by the contact centre operators answering your calls. It is your legal responsibility to notify us if you intend to record your calls so that we can advise our operators, otherwise you will be in breach of the Act.

For more information on how this operates in Australia see

Friday, 3 June 2011

Council Customer Service Conference Wrap

How to get good Customer Service DNA for your organisation or team was the theme at this year's National Local Government Customer Service Network conference at Eaglehawk Resort near Canberra but it was 'share the love', the catchcry of Oprah fan and outgoing NLGCSN President, Pauline Webb, that was echoed from the floor. 

This was a conference with a difference for lots of reasons, but the chief one being that it was organised by and for the volunteer Executive of the Network, all Customer Service Managers in the sector themselves, not commercial interests. It was peer networking at its best.

Trust walk exercise at the conference

The network now has 93 members across all Australian states. They organise Council specific training, like this conference, and also group training in regions where enough members are interested in attending. They organise group deals on mystery shop services for members, share information about common issues (procedures and standard forms) and generally provide the invaluable peer support to people working otherwise fairly unsupported in the sector. 

Well Done had people in Sales, Client Services, Operations and Training attending. There can be no better way for us to sit in with our clients (and others) and become acquainted with their concerns. The multiplier effect within our organisation when we all headed back to base was invaluable.

Topics this year included how and when to intervene when you have some toxic behaviour going on within the team; how smartphones are automating some of the easy enquiries and leaving Customer Service staff to handle more complex enquiries in person;  the best ways to build a positive culture within your organisation, and how effective this can be when you create change with backing from the top. 

This year Councils attended from all states - a first! The conference venue changes from year to year, and members are polled for suggested topics and speakers that they would like. Unlike parks, roads and facilities, the results of Council investment into Customer Service are less tangible, and as a result, Customer Service is usually the lowest priority for funding, even though improvements in productivity can ripple throughout the entire organisation. This is more than a shame - it is a waste - because often the real gains in productivity are created by learning from your peers at events like these.

Perspective can be a wonderful thing. I certainly found that many of the issues that we deal with in sales have customer service dimensions. For anyone working in Council Customer Service sector, this annual event is a must!

For more information about the National Local Government Customer Service Network go to www.