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The Business Cost of Poor Voice Quality
As businesses move to VoIP, all too often, voice quality is not given a high priority in the quest to lower costs. Poor voice quality leads to less productive conversations and lower customer satisfaction. As bandwidth costs continue to decrease, businesses should re-evaluate if the pennies saved to lower the cost of a conversation are worth it.Speech analytics is a great way to measure the business impact of the underlying quality of the voice infrastructure. By monitoring thousands of calls, patterns emerge, that are indicative of voice quality. Specific variables include:
* Simultaneous Speaking--How often are both parties speaking at the same time along with how-long pauses, while each party waits for the other to speak? The greater the delay in the voice network, the more this occurs. The ITU recommends less than 150ms of one-way delay. Both cellular and VoIP networks add delay, and when calls traverse multiple networks, significant delay is added.
* Repeating--How often does someone ask to repeat what was just said? Understanding what someone is saying is not only hearing the words that they speak, but also how they speak them. When someone speaks quickly, softly, mumbles and/or has an accent, it can be quite difficult to quickly understand what they are saying. If a voice connection is not "crisp," then repeats become common and frustrating.
* Laughter--How much laughter occurred during the conversation? The worse the quality, the shorter and more "to the point" a conversation is.
Voice quality can be improved by:
* Better Codecs--Using wideband audio with adaptive compression algorithms such as G.722.2. One reason Telepresense is taking off is the audio quality is so much better. If high compression is required, there are a lot better codecs than G.729.
* Voice Peering--Keeping all voice conversations on the same network and avoiding the IXC. If a business chooses a certain cellular provider for the enterprise, they should peer directly with them to avoid in-between networks that add delay and trans-code.
* Click to Call--A business has more control of the network and codec used on an outbound call. When a caller enters what number to call them at, a business can look up to see what network the phone number is registered to, and route the call accordingly. (Another reason why enterprises should add Skype SIP trunks)
Contact centers are great places to measure the impact of the quality of the voice network. Take two pools of agents that get the same type of calls, and give one set: high quality phones, head sets, good codecs, and direct network connectivity with their callers. Then measure the difference compared with the set of agents that didn't get these enhancements. Audio bridges are another good measuring point.
Saving a few cents per conversation at the expense of a poor experience is usually not worth it.