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How to Fix Bad Conference Calling

When your users are forced to suffer through low-quality conference calling experiences, you're going to hear about it. So how do you fix the problem and ensure that you're able to deliver the reliability demanded by users?

First, be prepared -- very prepared -- to provide detailed data and facts to your conferencing provider. The squishier you are... well, the mushier the answers you'll receive..

As a start, identify the calling and called party telephone numbers, date and time of event, and what happened during the call. Add in more details: Were the conference participants using cell phones, landlines, or UC clients on their laptops? Were any users calling in from remote locations, and were any dogs barking in the background. (You might laugh, but certain pitches and sounds can and do impact calls of any kind.)

As another best practice, don't wait until the end of the day or month to report an issue. Do so when the problem occurs or as soon as is reasonably possible thereafter. Sooner is always better than later. Why? Providers are dealing with a massive amount of call records -- not an excuse, but reality. Retrieval can take some time.

If your provider isn't delivering the unexpected quality for your conference calls, going to battle is within reason. Poor conferencing quality can negatively impact the business.

Next you need to convince the help desk that your conference quality problem requires quick responsiveness (food bribes might help!). First-level support doesn't always get it, and to be fair, neither does anyone else at times. First-level technicians have a lot on their plates and a huge breadth of issues to try and master. Sometimes trouble tickets get stuck or misrouted, and this is when you call back again and issue another ticket by talking to a different technician or clarifying the existing ticket.

What tools can you employ to isolate the issue? The answer can vary depending on your needs and your comfort level with various tools. If you are in the position to retrieve events you could use packet traces, call recordings, call records through your console or interface (some providers don't release them in real time or near real time but 24 hours later), and other details about what happened.

Set expectations early on. Make sure users understand that performance will vary based on how they're calling in, and level set their expectations. And when problems do crop up, understand that you won't be able to solve every call issue.

Lastly, investigate alternative sources for your conference calling because having a backup option may come in handy. Remember -- put skin in the game early on, and always work to perfect your infrastructure.

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