Teleconferencing, video- and web-conferencing have changed the way businesses communicate and collaborate. The technology has driven efficiencies, reduced considerable costs and more recently these services have become notable as eco-friendly alternatives to traditional travel that has supported face-to-face business interaction.
Conferencing interaction is different than face-to-face. Meeting organizers need to carefully keep the attention and focus of their attendees, and ensure some do not drift into multi-tasking distractions. Generally speaking, the most efficient conference could be when all participants are connected from different locations. In the event that one, or few, are "conferenced in" to a physical meeting room full of participants, the remote persons are likely to be disadvantaged.
Problems can be encountered at different stages of a conference call. It’s always best to be prepared and know what’s ahead.
Before the Conference Call
Getting into the actual conference is not without problems at times. Communications about meeting details can easily get confused. Although calendar applications have made things much better, situations do occur where meeting times are mixed up by time zones and seasonal clock changes.
Additionally, with nearly every staff member having his/her own meeting facilities, it does happen that a meeting agreement might result in multiple invitations and participants getting split into different conferences until someone notices the issue.
Getting into the Conference Call
Unlike many person-to-person phone calls, conferencing places sharp demand on the telecommunication networks as meeting participants rush to connect at the scheduled top-of-hour or bottom-of-hour start time. These demand surges do put pressure on network resources.
Also, while service providers will specify that their telecoms partners provide inbound toll and toll-free numbers without concurrent user limitations, configuration issues have been known to impose limits. Where individual phone numbers do not have a restriction, network capacity constraints can also hinder access to the conference.
Users dialing into a conference may experience confusing post-dial delay, busy or fast-busy tones, or network messages advising of congestion. Once connected, entry to the conference is often by a passcode which requires the accurate transmission of a touch-tone signal (DTMF), and this too can be degraded, between the user and the service, so that the conferencing platform is unable to acknowledge and authenticate access.
In the conference call
When participants have successfully connected, audio quality is the main concern. The objective of a meeting is communication, and communication does require a clear audio channel to support conversation.
Audio quality can be impacted by many things, and the variety is perhaps growing as technologies now support user connections via PSTN, VoIP, GSM, SIP, etc. Latency, echo, packet-loss and more can interfere with conversations and prevent some users from participating.
- Audio Delay/Latency
Some conference suppliers purposefully pause sound between voice and transmit automatically for a few seconds as it helps to avoid feedback and other issues with noise. However, sometimes failures in audio software cause further pause, otherwise called: delays.
This contributes to lengthy delays between the remark of one person and the reaction of another. For companies, this is difficult because individuals can sometimes see audio pauses as evidence of incompetence, rather than facing the irritating ‘talk over’. Too much strain on the network resources at a local level will cause the calls to delay longer, causing the conferences to halt to a standstill.
- Feedback and Echo
Echo and audio feedback are two of the most common, and most irritating, problems you can face in a call. Echo can be caused by two or more call participants being in the same room, though on individual equipment, with the audio cross-contaminating microphone inputs. It can also be caused by network issues, cabling, equipment configurations or even a single user’s own speaker feeding back into his/her microphone.
Feedback is a similar case. This can occur because some audio conference services can not immediately block devices that cause audio problems. You should also check to guarantee that each caller connecting to your meeting using a laptop computer uses headsets and that their inner speakers and microphones are disabled, otherwise, noise can be recycled back into the inner microphone from the speakers.
- Jitter & Packet Loss
Spearline had previously looked at the effects Jitter could have on VoIP calls. Jumbled-up, mixed messaging calls can be extremely frustrating and drive customers away, never to return.
Packet loss is another issue that could easily be a frustrating experience, with the danger of a loss of revenue if left unresolved. Packet loss occurs when one or multiple packets of data traveling across a computer network fail to reach their destination. This can be caused by errors in data transmission, usually across wireless networks, or network congestion.
Not having an internet connection with an adequate enough amount of bandwidth for your calls is also a major issue for audio conferencing. You need high bandwidth for your conferencing calls to work, otherwise, you could experience frustrating issues like delays, the video not loading correctly, and just terrible voice quality.
- Audio Delay/Latency
So how do you know when you could be suffering from it before it’s too late? Spearline’s platform is your answer!
Spearline’s proactive monitoring and testing tools are able to encounter these issues before your customer does, preventing your company from facing losses like customer churn and potential loss in revenue. The Spearline tests are able to pinpoint exactly what the problem is, allowing you to immediately resolve the issue before it becomes too big of a problem, no matter what stage the conference call may be on.
Our number testing solutions let you test your contact numbers using over 60 in-country points of presence worldwide. We use an internationally-recognized standard for measuring audio quality that takes into account parameters like variable delays, noise on the line and clipping of audio.
Alerting your company about these problems early will allow you to troubleshoot the issue before your customer even realizes anything has gone wrong. It’s always better to avoid the issue than be stuck neck-deep in complaints. These problems are extremely common and can easily affect any company and at any time. It’s always better to be prepared and be armed with the correct platform. The Spearline platform.
Spearline is a technology company that proactively tests toll, toll-free, and premium-rate numbers for audio quality and connectivity globally. We support business sectors, such as contact centers, conferencing services, and other applications, in successfully connecting with their customers. If you are interested in benefiting from our platform, please get in touch with us.