Calling contact centres… 5 reasons to test your numbers not just your network
Contact centres put a lot of effort into developing network monitoring solutions. After all that effort, you might think you have all the bases covered when it comes to monitoring the global calls coming into your network. But that’s not always the case. We’ve put together a list of some of the key benefits of testing your numbers, that you won’t get by just monitoring your network.
1. Replicate and manage your customers’ experience
Organisations often monitor what’s happening on their own network infrastructure, but have no visibility of what’s happening outside the network as calls are being passed through different carriers. Poor audio quality being placed into an excellent network will still result in a poor audio experience for a customer.
To know for sure what your customer is actually experiencing when they dial their local contact number, you need to test your numbers from outside your network. The only way to truly do this is by placing a test call from that country, into the local number. This will allow you to check that the call connects and, through recording the call, reveal some objective measures like audio quality and latency.
Testing your numbers, not just your network, gives you true end-to-end network visibility from your customer’s perspective. Armed with these insights, you can make corrective decisions to improve your service.
2. Be proactive in managing call issues, before customers are affected
We live in a switching economy. Customers don’t call a second time to complain about a poor experience, they simply switch providers.
If even one of your numbers experiences downtime or audio quality issues, it may impact a large number of customers, leading to frustration and loss of revenue.
So, it’s not enough to wait around for a customer complaint to alert you to a problem, and network monitoring won’t alert you to any of these issues when they’re happening outside of your internal network.
Fortunately, proactive, automated testing of your numbers is possible and can make sure you’re ahead of the game when it comes to identifying issues. If you’re testing your numbers regularly, then you’ll know immediately when a problem occurs and, armed with the right information, can get it fixed before customer experience is badly affected.
3. Measure audio quality using an objective metric
One of the biggest problems with testing telecoms infrastructure is the availability of an objective metric to measure performance. A lot of organisations use monitoring tools which look at certain network parameters such as bandwidth, packet loss, latency and jitter. Based on these parameters, they will assume a certain audio quality, generating a mean opinion score (MOS). But these are misleading as they are analyzing network details rather than real audio characteristics.
A simple recording of a real call can reveal a number of audio characteristics like audio sharpness, distortions, background noise, call volume and clipping.
While MOS is, essentially, an assumption based on network characteristics, a recording of a test call allows you to generate an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) industry standard PESQ (perceptual evaluation of speech quality) score, which is an objective score of audio quality.
Read more about how PESQ scores can be used to improve audio quality
4. Benchmark performance against country averages and your competitors
Now you’re armed with all this data, what does it mean? To understand how your numbers are performing, you need to know ‘what good looks like’.
The tricky bit is that good means something different depending on where you’re calling from. It’s no good comparing the performance of your numbers in Brazil with your numbers in Germany. You need to look at how well your numbers are doing on a country by country basis vs others in that country. Your competitors aren’t going to share with you how well their numbers are performing, but by using a number testing solution that is testing thousands of numbers a day, all around the world, you can easily benchmark your numbers’ performance against country averages.
5. Measure and compare carrier performance to make informed business decisions
Number testing provides you with the insights to manage ongoing carrier relationships and make key routing decisions based on audio quality data.
In digital networks, carriers have the ability to transcode audio from excellent quality codecs such as G711 to poorer quality codecs such as G729 or GSM.
With information on audio quality, DTMF and CLI functionality, combined with country by country benchmarking data, you can often identify where audio is being transcoded, or when lower quality carriers are being used on your routes. This allows you to make an informed decision on how you route your calls, and ensure your carrier is delivering the service you are paying for.