How to monitor call quality without invading the privacy of remote agents

Mark Kowal
Mar. 24 2021
Man working at helpdesk

Ethics…they are often the subject of philosophers, rarely considered a business issue. But perhaps they should be.

In this post, I explore the relationship between ethics and call quality whose lines have been blurred by the shift to a remote workforce. Where does responsibility for IT failure reside and what can be done about it?

Residential networks have become a critical asset for business continuity during the pandemic but they’ve created their own set of challenges for numerous lines of business including Customer Experience, Contact Center Operations, and IT professionals. For starters, remote workers (those who connect to the corporate network via a third party or residential ISP) have caused network traffic patterns to shift. Corporate IT must understand the impact these new traffic flows have on their network and adapt accordingly. Network performance and employee productivity will suffer if left unaddressed. Secondly, home networks aren’t always stable. Network failure and bandwidth issues are anything but uncommon and have a very real impact on worker productivity and the quality of customer interactions. So whose problem is this to solve anyway?

Let’s consider the customer perspective. A customer calls a support line, waits on hold for too long then gets disconnected or routed to the wrong department. The customer doesn’t know where things went wrong and quite frankly, they don’t care. All they know is that they’re frustrated and its the company’s fault regardless of where the failure occurred. The business impact is too great to ignore – churn, customer escalations, and low customer sat scores affect revenues and KPI achievements of business leaders.

Companies, ultimately, are forced to take ownership of something outside of their domain. Herein lies the moral and ethical dilemma – they need visibility in order to troubleshoot problems and make decisions. Yet, people are fiercely protective of their privacy, and ethically, companies can’t force employees home networks to be monitored.

This concept of remote workforce productivity has been studied before. In fact, some pre-pandemic studies suggest that worker productivity increases and attrition rates decrease when people work from home.  Those studies, however, did not consider the impact of virtual meetings, which teams often use to discuss projects, distribute workload [1] and ‘ensure’ productivity.   What those teams may not know is that virtual meetings account for more than $37 billion USD in lost productivity[2]. Why? People join late or technical issues delay, interrupt or even prevent calls from happening in the first place. These experiences are shared by just about anyone who has ever been on a conference call and are often the subject of comedic videos.

While these virtual meetings have kept teams connected and in synch, the tech issues have abounded. IT teams quickly realized that the tools they’ve been using for measuring and diagnosing issues on their “corporate run networks” were of little use for networks they did not manage, like residential home networks.  A slew of new challenges came to light including:

  • The test methods they were using were completely invalid
  • The data they were collecting violated ethical privacy and regulatory restrictions
  • The data collected with the existing tools was incomplete, or worse, inaccurate and led to assumptions and poor decisions.
  • Actions taken didn’t solve the original problem or created new issues since the data was faulty.

Businesses needed a sure-fire way to measure the quality of human communication from the data center out to the remote worker’s home environment without violating employee privacy.  Most tools hijack computer mics, cameras or listen in on conversations. Who would agree to that? This is why Empirix developed Hammer Ohm™ with VoiceRNA. Powered only by a web browser, Hammer Ohm puts business and IT teams back in control of customer experience by giving them visibility into the disruptions that influence CX and brand sentiment from the data center to the remote agent. It enables companies to build more productive and memorable customer experiences by assuring the delivery of high-quality voice interactions. VoiceRNA measures quality across a variety of standard measurements and represents those measurements in a single score.

Our approach was put to the test in a double-blind study with a large corporate contact center who was running a popular call-recording platform to record employee – customer interactions.  The test and monitoring tools they used failed to give them the visibility they needed into home network performance to make decisions that positively impacted CX – like rerouting inbound calls away from agents with intermittent connectivity or low call quality.

Those same tests were then run using Hammer Ohm which accurately detected when call quality was poor. The quality compliance team challenged the findings by listening to the call recordings but the results were indisputably accurate. Hammer Ohm ethically monitored and detected voice quality issues without sacrificing employee or customer privacy.

To learn more about protecting CX from your data center all the way to your remote employees, contact us or download this ebook to get 12 actionable steps for improving customer experience across your “unmanaged” networks.

[1] M. Mahdi Roghanizad, Vanessa K. Bohns,
Ask in person: You’re less persuasive than you think over email,
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,
Volume 69,
Pages 223-226,
ISSN 0022-1031,
[2] Steven G. Rogelberg, Clifton W. Scott, Brett Agypt, Jason Williams, John E. Kello, Tracy McCausland & Jessie L. Olien (2014) Lateness to meetings: Examination of an unexplored temporal phenomenon, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 23:3, 323-341, DOI: 10.1080/1359432X.2012.745988

Written By
Mark Kowal
Mark Kowal

Ready to talk?