You’re looking over last month’s profit and loss statement for the business and when you come upon the line item for telephone expenses you wonder if there’s room for some cost savings.   You begin to ask yourself:   How many wasted calls are being made every day?  Do we allocate the proper costs by department? Are we being billed correctly by our carrier?  Are we charging our clients properly?

You wish you had a tool to come up with the answers. Well, there is a tool and its name is “Call Accounting”.

All major telephone equipment vendors offer call accounting software as an added feature to their systems, and no matter the size of your operation there is an application available that will give you the information to monitor telephone usage and to measure worker productivity.

Call accounting systems capture and record telephone usage and produce useful management reports.  Initially, such software was developed as a tool to allocate costs between departments or profit centers within large enterprises.  While these early versions of call accounting software did not concern themselves with measuring productivity, the effectiveness of sales staffs or with identifying misuse or fraud, new applications perform these and many other functions.

In today’s workplace, call accounting systems can be used to audit telephone service invoices and wireless and long distance charges.  System outages are easily identified for possible credits from carriers.  Toll calls can be tracked as well as any unusual or abusive calling patterns of employees.  These systems can assist in measuring the effectiveness of customer service call centers and help management determine the appropriate head count to meet performance standards.   Further, call accounting can be a tool for sales management to assess the effectiveness of sales staffs and agents who are relied upon to generate revenues.  You may want to know how often your key customers are being called by sales people assigned to those accounts, particularly if a new product or service has been introduced recently. System reports can provide insights into how effective new marketing initiatives are in generating inbound calling activity.

Reports produced by call accounting systems aid management in staffing for peak call periods and provide data on how responsive staff members are to incoming calls.  They can be the basis for comparing the duration of calls among employees.   In these ways, managers can determine how well utilized a telephone system is, how productive staff members are and whether more or less network or bandwidth capacity may be required to fulfill business needs.

Call accounting software can even aid a company’s IT staff in protecting the company from security threats by monitoring for network intrusion and other telecommunications activity that goes beyond standard boundaries.

For law firms and consulting businesses that charge clients for time spent on telephone conversations, call accounting systems provide the data and reports for billing those charges.  Likewise, businesses such as hotels that pass on the cost of telephone calls to patrons need an easy, reliable system to generate the information for those bills.   In the same way, design firms and contractors can allocate telephone costs by project and generate timely, accurate invoices.

Call accounting systems are capable of overseeing telemarketing activity and providing management with useful data to identify which staff members are performing to standard and which staff members may need additional training.  This is a way to ensure that the desired number of calls per hour or day are being achieved, that calls are made to the right geographical locations and that call duration is within the company’s guidelines.

Another feature of many call accounting systems is the sending of notifications or alerts to managers when unacceptable or abusive telephone usage is occurring.  Questionable inbound and outbound calls can be tracked for prompt detection of potential fraudulent activity to enhance a firm’s ability to avert risks.

Some systems also have the capability of performing traffic analysis to help you determine the optimum number of trunk lines the business needs to satisfy calling requirements, including “busy hour” service demands.

The value of a call accounting system is manifold as a management tool that can lead to improved efficiencies and higher profits.  Companies such as NEC, Adtran,  Cisco and Avaya may have the solution that meets your business needs.

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