Most modern call centers are now using VoIP infrastructure, which means VoIP call quality plays a major role in creating a great customer experience. There’s nothing more frustrating for customers than not receiving help or clarification due to poor call quality or technical problems.
To ensure a great customer experience, it’s vital to monitor the quality of your calls and take steps to ensure clarity, prevent latency, and keep other problems related to call quality in check. By learning more about your VoIP infrastructure and how it works with cloud-based VoIP call center software, you can more easily troubleshoot the most common VoIP phone system problems.
The Importance of VoIP Call Quality
VoIP technologies are slowly transitioning businesses away from standard phone systems. Standard phone systems, also known as plain old telephone systems (POTS) had a fairly good reputation for good call quality —they’re pretty reliable unless a rare severe storm takes out a phone line. Cellular technology tends to have fairly good call quality as long as you’re within range of a cell tower.
VoIP technology refers to voice over internet protocol, where voice travels via data packets to relay signals for internet calling. VoIP call quality refers to the clarity and responsiveness of VoIP call transmissions. In simple terms, it means that your call center agents can clearly hear every word your customers are saying and vice versa.
When you get used to good call quality, it’s easy enough to take it for granted. The fact is that call quality can change or deteriorate over time. Monitoring call quality ensures your customers receive an experience that inspires brand loyalty.
How to Determine VoIP Call Quality
All kinds of distracting noises can occur during a phone call. Popping noises, distortion, echoing, dropped calls, and one-way audio are some of the problems that break up clear communication.
To better understand why interference happens, it helps to get a better grasp of how a VoIP phone system actually works.
When you make a VoIP call, your voice signals are transmitted into a digitized stream. The signals then get divided and compressed into digital data packets. The data packets then travel over the internet to the person you’re calling. Before someone picks up the call, the data packets reconvert the voice signal into your voice message and the person you’re calling can understand exactly what you’re saying. It all happens so quickly that conversation can happen in real time, without any perceptive delays.
The internal process is pretty complex and there are many places signals can break down along the way. That’s why call quality can be great on one call and not so great on the next.
By monitoring your calls, it will help you to detect problems before they start to negatively impact your business. You can do this by listening to call recordings or using call monitoring features, such as call whispering, through a cloud-based phone system. Listen carefully for any signs of jitter, distortion, latency, or any other noises or cutting out that shouldn’t be there.
What Causes Poor Internet Calling Quality?
VoIP phone systems are reliable provided the proper setup and infrastructure is followed. It’s possible to maintain high call quality when you get better acquainted with the issues that typically disrupt normal service. Fortunately, any problems with poor VoIP phone quality are pretty easy to evaluate and correct.
It’s worth mentioning that good call quality is just as important to your VoIP service provider as it is to you. In most cases, your VoIP service provider will already be on top of call quality issues. If they’re not, they’ll typically work with you to resolve them. (See phone system SLA)
There are generally five issues that cause poor internet calling quality:
- 1. Jitter – A common VoIP call quality problem that’s related to the timing of the delivery of data packets to the receiving party is called jitter. When data packets arrive at the destination too late or at irregular intervals, speech sounds broken, making it difficult to hear the words.
- 2. Delays – Conversations should be fluid, and speech delays disrupt the flow of conversation. It’s difficult to have a back-and-forth dialogue when parts of the conversation get delayed or when you constantly hear echoes.
- 3. Poor internet connection – A VoIP call relies on the internet to get voice signals to the receiver. A poor internet connection causes disruption in the calls, and you could lose a call altogether. VoIP calls require a different set of protocols than you’d use at home for general internet use.
- 4. Inadequate router bandwidth – Small businesses commonly use one router for data and voice. This works well as long as the router is properly configured to prioritize voice calls over data. Consider a high-end router for greater bandwidth as well.
- 5. Internet configuration – VoIP calls require a different set of protocols than you’d use at home for general internet use. The wrong type of VoIP configuration can cause poor call quality.
What Causes Delay on VoIP Calls?
Delays on VoIP calls are also referred to as latency, which comes from the root word “late”.
- Telephone latency is also sometimes called mouth-to-ear delay.
- Audio latency is sometimes referred to as quality of experience (QoE).
We measure latency in milliseconds. A delay of a few hundred milliseconds equates to a few seconds of delay of a voice signal.
There are two ways to measure latency:
- One-direction – This refers to the amount of time that a packet takes to travel from the source to the destination one-way.
- Round-trip – This refers to the time a VoIP data packet takes to travel to its destination and send the acknowledgment back to the source.
When computer networks are slow, they affect the timing of the data packets that are carrying voice signals. The wrong timing causes interference with voice signals.
In a practical sense, this means that you may hear an echo or overlapping noises. One of the speakers will have a hard time knowing when the other speaker made a pause. Speech delays during voice conversations cause problems during calls because one or both parties have to keep repeating things. It’s best to do all that you can to minimize call quality issues.
How to Minimize VoIP Call Quality Issues
Call quality issues won’t become a serious issue when you take a proactive approach to minimize them. To ensure high call quality, make sure your VoIP infrastructure is set up for strong call quality. By taking this step, you’ll prevent many problems on the front end.
You can decrease your chances of experiencing reduced call quality by continually monitoring your phone system.
Here are some tips for how to do it:
- Conduct regular system audits checking all components including software.
- Make sure your router prioritizes voice data over other types of data.
- Check your bandwidth to ensure it is adequate for your needs.
- Select equipment and software that are open and support interconnectivity.
- Monitor actual calls for clarity and continuity.
- Ask your call agents to report jitter, latency, echoing, or other call interference right away.
Choose your VoIP system provider carefully. Ask questions about their call quality including if they’ve had problems with it, what steps they took to fix it, and how they monitor the system for call quality. A good VoIP provider will be knowledgeable about call quality and will be able to educate you about how you can work together to keep call quality high.
Troubleshoot the Most Common VoIP Problems
One of the main culprits of VoIP phone problems is the internet. To improve call quality, check the strength of the internet connection and inquire about any known problems with it. Your VoIP service provider can also do an easy VoIP test which will give them information about internet speed, jitter, latency, and bandwidth of your system.
To get your voice from your location to another party’s location, many components have to work together. A breakdown at any juncture could diminish call quality. Bear in mind, that you might have more than one problem at a time. A complete system checkup will help you find all the potential sources that are affecting call quality. As part of your system checkup, be sure to check these three things:
- Your router rules
- Your bandwidth
- Firewalls to ensure they’re not blocking traffic
- System for speed and response time
- The quality of your headsets
In most cases, your VoIP service provider will be able to help you target potential problems with more expertise than your in-house IT personnel, for companies that have them. VoIP specialists can usually locate problems quickly and make suggestions for how to maintain high call quality on a regular basis.
How to Determine the Best Quality VoIP Phone System
The best quality VoIP phone system will readily be able to assist you in setting up your network.
For example, Aircall recommends that you set up a QoS on your router and that means you need to choose a router that has this capability. QoS refers to Quality of Service and it’s a process that allows you to prioritize voice traffic in your network as mentioned previously. When several users are using the internet for various activities like making phone calls, sending emails, viewing videos, and browsing the internet, your router contains settings that prioritize which types of internet traffic take precedence. When your router is set up with QoS, you’ll notice significant call quality because it allows the voice data packets to flow continuously and without interruption.
Aircall works with other software integrations, and together, they will help you evaluate calls between your call agents and your customers so you can work on call quality from the standpoint of the connection, as well as the customer experience.
Take a look at these software integrations for quality assurance in the Aircall App Marketplace:
- EvaluAgent – Randomly assign calls for review, review calls for coaching, motivate call agents.
- Klaus – Record and review calls, leave feedback for call agents.
- MaestroQA – Assess call quality across multiple channels, data-driven feedback, automatic grading.
Call clarity and continuity are vital issues for call centers. When you ensure call quality, it positions your call agents to give the best customer service. Without distractions, they can more easily focus on the reason that customers are calling and meet their needs promptly and politely. Aircall’s cloud-based phone system, along with software integrations that bolster quality assurance is the key to delivering the kind of customer experience that inspires true brand loyalty.