Calls Being Recorded

26 May 2022

Calls Being Recorded

Bonfire of red tape.

By Robert Kilconner

“This call is being recorded for training purposes”, “this call is being recorded so that we can improve the service we supply to you”. There are various ways of informing the customer that the tapes are on and thus expanding the use which may be made of the recording under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA),

We are all well used to being recorded; it happens every day. But the real mystery of the thing is who on earth is listening. Supposedly recording is used for training purposes. Are there really people, expert in the training of staff, who listen to the conversations with a view to improving employee performance in the future? If so it must be an extraordinarily boring job:

“My goodness, Fred, listen to this. The client sounded really interested in the weather in northern India. Perhaps the Bengal call centre should always begin with the words: ‘it is a sunny day in Bengal’.”

Or “listen to how this operative handled the complaint about his managing director. He really should not have started with the line ‘I know he is a prat’. Some training seems to be required”. No, there really cannot be banks of people listening for this sort of thing.

Maybe, though, it is only the really difficult calls which get attention. A friend of mine hated junk calls and always gave the caller a piece of his mind. That didn’t put them off. In fact he got more and more of them until he realised that the junk call companies used him to toughen up there staff. “James is a bit wet. Let’s get him to call this number. The experience will toughen him up.”

Then there are the security services, of course; the analytics tell us that the Shaw Sheet has always had a couple of Russian readers. Expats keen for news at home, perhaps? No, no reader of Le Carre would believe that. It is Moscow Central or the Federal Security Service listening in from a communications room in the Lubyanka as part of Russia’s unceasing surveillance of the British press. “Look, Boris, what libels those capitalist swine at the Shaw Sheet have published. Refer the editors to SMERSH and find out if they visit any of the UK’s cathedral cities.” Unfortunately I doubt if we are influential enough for that but please keep reading us, Boris. Any boost to our international readership figures is most welcome.

Then, of course, it could all be a blind. The purpose of recording the call may not be to train people or to improve the service at all but rather to identify suckers to whom a further marketing call might be successful. Perhaps there are algorithms based on the length of the call or a tremor in the voice of the customer which line him or her up for a further call in due course. We all know of those ghastly organisations which, if you do business with them, plague you with marketing emails until you find your way through their dreadful ”unsubscribe” systems. Is the recording of calls part of a similar system for pressure selling? That must sometimes be the case although presumably not when the call is to HMRC or a statutory undertaker.

There are lots of possibilities but the truth is probably simple. By telling you that your call is being recorded, the organisation you are speaking to expands the use it can make of any information garnered without infringing the regulations. The safe thing to do then is to inform the customer as a matter of course. So everyone does it. So who on earth is being protected? Are there regulations here which the government can add to the bonfire of pointless EU red tape? It seems likely.

tile photo:  Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

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