AOTMP is often asked about budgeting accuracy and call accounting; so we recently spoke with with Charles Coakley, VP of Sales and Marketing at TeleManagement Technologies, Inc. to get his perspective:
1. What is the role of call accounting for organizations that have migrated to VoIP/SIP services?
The short answer is “more key than ever!” Now that all Call Detail Recording “CDR” is centralized with VoIP, updates can be collected every 5 minutes. Before VoIP, calls from remote locations had to be collected and buffered separately and were put into an overnight cycle. Using Call Accounting for VoIP connections, you get the benefit of near real time CDR collection and reporting, even for remote locations. Now, with the VoIP connection, the entire network basically becomes real time. Automation is also key. There is no longer the need to go in and manually pull records and load them into the system. As long as it’s in the call record, it can be captured and reported. Some of the newer items being tracked now are QOS (Quality of Service), Call by Call and Call by Site tracking. These are available on newer VoIP solutions, such as Cisco Call Manager.
Call Accounting with VoIP also helps unlock visibility in a big way. As an example, TTI can show, via our dashboard, exactly where, as an example, abandon calls are occurring by location, with triggers to tell users exactly where the high abandon rate is coming from and which site is being impacted. With that data, they can decide where to add extra employees if there is a voicemail overload problem. Basically, the Call Accounting piece with VoIP helps companies get a better sense of their bandwidth dynamics so that they can “right size” their networks. The added visibility through VoIP is a huge part of that equation.
2. How does call accounting complement TEM practices?
We’re seeing a lot more integration between CDR and TEM. TEM, which includes things such as the analysis of invoices, which is typically a post event process. Now we’re seeing more focus on CDR and how it adds value to TEM. People want more granularity; more detailed accounting of individual usage. Clients tell us “TEM gives us summary data, but if we also have the call detail, we can allocate costs back to employees and departments.” That’s why you need Call Accounting.
Call Accounting also gives you the ability to identify the fraud and misuse that TEM solutions are not designed to do. We’ve all experienced that employee hanging out on Facebook while they chat with their buddy. It happens all the time. With Call Accounting those calls will be captured and highlighted. For most employees, knowing that there is a Call Accounting solution in place is all they need to get back on track and stay on track.
Pairing Call Accounting with TEM is all about the ability to track to a highly granular level, whether wireless or wireline. On their own they are both heavy hitters. Together they are a powerhouse team.
3. What is the value of managing both carrier call records and PBX call records? What are the use cases?
Primarily the value is in validation. As an example, some smaller companies will use their Call Accounting solution as a TEM. So, they’ll look at their call accounting report, indicating that they spent $3k last month, etc., and check against their bill. Sort of a “sanity check”, but an important one. If they have telemarketers, they may have an abundance of short calls or abandoned calls. They can see this with the carrier call records but the PBX will only show completed calls. So you are able to verify that what you’re showing in your call records is matching actual usage.
4. What role does call accounting play in wireless/mobility management?
The same meticulous collection and allocation of wireline calls needs to be applied to mobile. This is accomplished through “mapping” of the wireless traffic call records and loading them into the Call Accounting platform to provide the same visibility and reporting capabilities. Otherwise you are just going through 50 plus pages of wireless provider bills with extremely limited reporting. It doesn’t make sense. With Call Accounting you are getting access to over 100 different reports from the CDR alone. For mobile usage you need to have the same information on things like most frequent number, busiest time of day, week, etc. It will help establish traffic patterns; who is getting called and where the calls are going.
Mobile Call Accounting is especially pertinent now with so many remote employees, especially millennials, who use either their cell phones or company commissioned phones to make calls from their homes or local call centers. These new generation workers are all about establishing a work/life balance. So they may not be working a typical 9-5 day. Call Accounting gives you the assurance that calls are being made.
5. What type of companies/what are the characteristics of organizations that receive the most benefit from call accounting?
There really isn’t a vertical industry that should be considered immune to the need for call accounting. Certainly any organization where security is important needs call accounting. Given today’s litigious business environment we really need to know what calls are being made, by whom, when and where. If you don’t have the backup data or if it’s inaccurate, you’re stuck. Having that security is paramount.
And we hear plenty of war stories. In some cases employees are secretly making calls to competitors. In other cases, employees are running their own side businesses on company time. You need to determine who is doing this and that’s where Call Accounting excels.
Operators of executive suites bill back their tenants and need to have an accurate, detailed record of calling activity. Even though many have moved to a flat-billing model, they still need to audit their margins. Call Accounting can help.
Sales centric companies need to compare the employee who makes just a few calls and brings in money versus those who are on the phone all day and make no sales. You don’t want to be “big brother”. You just want to know who is more productive to replicate their model if possible.
Finally, any organization serious about budgeting accuracy needs Call Accounting. Typically sales and service will need a larger budget to support their needs. How do you balance out usage with budget fairly? Using Call Accounting, that’s a pretty simple task. Otherwise you can end up putting budget where it may not be needed and short changing areas which could benefit.