By Michael Dillhyon, CEO of CallTrunk
When the hurricane of noise surrounding the phone hacking at the News of the World finally ebbs away the issues of privacy, call recording and the law will remain areas over which no business can afford to remain ignorant. Or claim ignorance.
In the past you would have been forgiven for thinking call recording has nothing to do with entrepreneurs and business people unless you ran a call centre.
Alas those days are vanishing faster than senior Met Police Commissioners because sweeping innovations in technology are poised to make call recording ubiquitous, affordable and available to every single businessperson AND consumer.
At the forefront of this revolution racing up to affect every part of our lives, is the call recording company, Call Trunk. Thanks to companies like Call Trunk, the day is fast approaching when every call will be recorded and stored securely and cheaply online. This is a matter of “how soon?” not “if”.
And the implications of this for businesses large and small are profound!
Let’s start with a brief recap of the very obvious reasons why call recording will make your life easier:
Business leaders and entrepreneurs are busy people.
They are constantly taking calls, making calls, negotiating deals, giving and receiving instructions.
And phone calls don’t happen when you want them to happen. In reality they occur when you’re already on another call. Or in a conversation, or rushing from one meeting to the next. You know the drill! And as a result the simple fact is you aren’t able to recall perfectly every detail of every conversation. But you need to and more often than not you are expected to.
But it’s not just you that need to record these calls; its also your company and your employees and partners.
In fact, the providers of call centre hardware maintain that as a rule of thumb that the reason that 95% of the companies that want call recording do not have it was because they couldn’t afford it.
Why do they want it? Because it means you can:
· Be certain of facts
· Understand and resolve disputes,
· Know your deal sizes,
· Know your commitments,
· Understand the terms of trade with your partners,
· Double check if you, in fact, made an error(!),
· Delegate confidently,
· Keep a record of behaviour of customers, suppliers and staff,
· Improve sales calls
Oh, and there’s one more thing: More and more academic evidence is showing that people lie A LOT on the phone.
One study showed that people lied in 37% of phone calls,
Overt call recording is the most effective way you reduce that temptation to lie!
Evidently the reasons in favour of it are compelling and now that it is affordable it is sweeping through business
So, what are the ethics?
The simple is answer is this:
Tell your counterparty. It’s best practice.
If in doubt, tell the person you are speaking to that you are recording the call.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone. Anything you say or write over an electronic device is recordable. Indeed, ever since Richard Nixon flew away from the White House Rose garden for the last time after his secret tapes were revealed, people have been acutely aware that conversations might be recorded.
Nearly 40 years later conversations have not ceased as a result. Nor have people ceased to forget about the danger of capturing conversations. In fact four decades have simply served to replace Watergate with Weinergate.
As a business you should also be prepared that any call between your employees and the outside environment could be recorded. And in our highly socialized online world one bad recorded call could fly around the web at the speed of light and do a huge amount of reputational damage.
For most businesses this means you should be retraining staff to make sure they understand that the telephone conversation needs to be treated with more respect; previously this was a medium that could be treated in more cavalier fashion than written communication. It will take some time to realize that this is actually more risky than
The principle for anyone in business remains the same: If it was captured electronically it will persist.
And if we start from the premise that call recording is happening anyway, that calls will be recorded by clients and other counterparties then the best approach is to be open and accepting of it.
After all consumers are used to having their conversations recorded by business. No business can tell a consumer that they will not allow their calls to be recorded without losing business.
Of course for many people it feels odd. We are prepared to be recorded every time we speak to a call center but we are not used to it when it comes to our daily lives. That will change.
Turning to the legal position of call recording.
Call recording is legal. The concept of call recording is sometimes wrongly conflated with wire-tapping. Wire-tapping is when you eaves-drop on a conversation being held by other people. That is generally illegal …unless you are in the police or secret service in which case you’re on the wrong website! Call recording is another kettle of fish entirely; it’s what you do when you make a record of your own conversation.
There are disclosure and consent requirements which vary from country to country in order to make call recording perfectly legal and above board. For example, in the US the national, or federal law, requires one party consent to make the call.
However 12 of the individual states require two party consent or all party consent.
In the UK the requirement is to inform all parties that they are being recorded at the commencement of the call. This is the minimum requirement.
Ideally you should also explain the purpose for which the call is being recorded and secure their consent — though in practice this is usually implied by staying on the call.
When it comes to explaining the purpose of call recording we are all familiar with call centers telling us that they are recording the call for training purposes. You could equally be recording calls to achieve better business efficiency, to double check orders and eliminate disputes.
In addition The Human Rights Act suggests that staff should be allowed to make unrecorded private calls. Thus, if their only phone is an always —recorded fixed line phone, then they should be able to access a separate private line at lunch time. With modern solutions such as Call Trunk you would simply switch the recording feature off.
What is clear is that the requirements to legally record your business calls are pretty easily met. This is great news because it means that as call recording sweeps into the mainstream it will be simple for business, large and small, to economically maintain a record of all their calls, transactions and negotiations and thus provide a better and more profitable service.