A Call Detail Record (CDR) is a data record produced by a telephone exchange or other telecommunications equipment that documents the details of a telephone call or other telecommunications transaction (e.g., text message) that passes through that facility or device. It's a vital tool for telecommunications operators, as it provides granular data about each call, which can be used for billing, understanding customer behavior, network troubleshooting, and more.
Some call center software providers make call detail records available to users of their platforms. We discuss why this feature can be important for call center managers and why you may want to consider call center software that provide this feature.
What Are Call Detail Records?
Call detail records are files of data produced by call center telephony systems that provided detailed information about calls. These call records are generated by phone systems (such as those operated by telephone service providers as well as many automated contact distributors). CDRs include call start and end times, and other diagnostic information that can be quite useful for call center administrators to diagnose call issues (including call quality problems).
Brief Overview of Call Detail Records (CDR)
The rest of this feature description may get a bit technical, so we will provide the non-technical summary of call detail records here. In brief, CDR means a record (or file) that provides detailed information about what happened in a call. Administrators at call centers can use call detail records to diagnose issues with calls. For example, a CDR can reveal whether there were technical issues during a call that impacted the quality of a call (for example, if a caller or agent complain about not being able to hear each other during a call, the CDR may reveal information about why the call quality was poor). A CDR can also reveal other information about the call length, the source (and destination) of the call, etc. Administrators can perform call detail record analysis (using spreadsheets or custom software) to identify patterns or potential problems.
Call detail record analysis is particularly helpful in modern call center software platforms that use WebRTC or softphones, as a CDR analysis can reveal network issues that may affect calls. In today's world of work from home call center agents, call detail record analysis can also reveal problems with an agent's work from home setup.
Deeper Dive into Call Detail Records
A Call Detail Record (CDR) is a data record produced by a telephone exchange or other telecommunications equipment (such as a call center platform) that documents the details of a telephone call that passes through that facility or device. Many modern call center platforms are based on telephony platforms that generate CDRs. For example, call center platforms that use the freeSWITCH open source telephony system may automatically produce CDRs. Not all call center platforms make these CDRs available to customers (you may want to ask your provider if they do provide them).
CDRs are often presented in tabular format, but they can also be formatted as XML, a widely used data interchange format. XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language and is designed to store and transport data.
Here's a brief overview of how to read a CDR and what the XML might mean. Shown below is an example of a typical XML formatted CDR. (note that there are many other fields that may be included, this is just an example).
<call> <dateTime>2023-05-16T14:30:00Z</dateTime> <duration>300</duration> <callerID>1234567890</callerID> <calledNumber>0987654321</calledNumber> <disposition>Answered</disposition> <callType>Inbound</callType> <direction>Incoming</direction> <cost>0.05</cost> <jitter>25</jitter> <latency>100</latency> <packetLoss>0.01</packetLoss> <MOSscore>4.2</MOSscore> <callLeg> <start>2023-05-16T14:30:00Z</start> <end>2023-05-16T14:35:00Z</end> <duration>300</duration> </callLeg> <callerIP>192.0.2.1</callerIP> <calledIP>203.0.113.1</calledIP> <codec>G.711</codec> <bandwidth>64</bandwidth> </call>
Here's how to read it. Each of the fields in angle-brackets (< >) are field names, and the data for each field is between the opening and closing brackets. In the above example, the following fields are provided:
<dateTime>: The date and time when the call was initiated. The format is typically in ISO 8601 format, which is YYYY-MM-DDTHH:MM:SSZ.
<duration>: The length of the call in seconds.
<callerID>: The phone number of the party who initiated the call. (e.g., the ANI)
<calledNumber>: The phone number that was dialed. (e.g., such as the DNIS)
<disposition>: The disposition is the outcome of the call.
<callType>: The type of call.
<direction>: The direction of the call.
<cost>: The cost of the call, if applicable.
<jitter>: Jitter refers to the variation in the delay of received packets. In a VoIP call, voice data is divided into small packets and transmitted over the internet. If these packets arrive at their destination with varying delay, it causes jitter, which can degrade call quality. The jitter value in the CDR provides a measure of this variation during the call.
<latency>: This refers to the delay between when a voice packet is sent and when it's received. High latency can result in noticeable delays in conversation and can degrade the quality of the call.
<packetLoss>: This field indicates the percentage of voice data packets that were lost during transmission. High packet loss can result in choppy audio or dropped calls.
<MOSscore>: The Mean Opinion Score, a measure of the perceived quality of the call. This score is a measure of the perceived quality of the call. It's a numerical value ranging from 1 (bad) to 5 (excellent) that provides a quick, overall indication of call quality based on factors like jitter, latency, and packet loss.
<callLeg>: In situations where a call is routed through multiple call center agents (or event through multiple call queues), each part of the route is referred to as a “leg”. The CDR might include information on each leg of the call, including the start time, end time, and duration of each leg..
<calledIP>: The IP addresses of the devices involved in the call.
<codec>: The Codec field indicates the audio codec used for the call. Different codecs can have different impacts on call quality and bandwidth usage.
<bandwidth>: The amount of data transmitted per unit of time, measured in kilobits per second (kbps).
Administrators or admins may use some or all of these fields to diagnose issues with calls. For example, if a call record indicates a particular call experienced high packetLoss, then there may be a workstation or network issue. High packet loss is a bad situation for SIP or VOIP calls.
The details in these records often only come in handy when an administrator needs to diagnose call issues — but when you do have issues, CDR data is critical.
Key factors to consider when choosing call center software with Call Detail Record features
As mentioned above, not all call center software providers make CDRs available to their clients. As a result, the key factor to keep in mind is whether or not a provider makes them available. If your call center uses WebRTC, SIP, and/or has remote agents, you should make sure your provider makes them available to you — you will need them at some point.
If your call center provider makes them available to you, the other key factor is how you will be provided access to them. Ideally, CDRs will be associated with each call ID in a call log, allowing you (or your administrators) easy access to CDRs.
Finally, if CDRs are available to you, are they available in real time (once a call has ended)? If not, find out what cycle or timing they will be provided to you. Typically, in the heat of a calling campaign where agents or callers are complaining, you will want substantially real-time access to these records to diagnose issues.