Return on Investment:
Unified Communications (UC) providers must ensure that their resources are being used efficiently. In a market that is becoming increasingly competitive, well-informed choices can help a provider to gain an advantage over its competitors. Return on investment, or ROI, is a performance measure which is used to evaluate choices in order to ascertain which investment opportunity would be optimal for a given organization.
Proactive identification of technical issues has led to improved service quality and reliability, and to considerable cost savings for UC providers around the world. The ROI achieved by these organizations highlights the value of a strong quality assurance program. UC providers are now able to proactively monitor their services, allowing them to respond to a situation before it has broad impact on their customers. Networking expert, Terry Slattery of NetCraftsmen states that, “Active path testing is particularly important because it identifies network and application problems and is particularly useful for voice”. Active path testing looks at the full call path between users in a voice call.
Importance of Unified Communications:
Ofcom, the UK's communication regulator reported a 17% decline in the volume of calls made in recent years. However, crucially the average business is receiving 34% more calls now than it did five years ago. It seems that while social conversations have moved to other channels, business communications are very much leveraging the power of voice calls. This means that organizations are now more reliant than ever on a strong voice infrastructure. In today’s world, there are grave concerns about the carbon footprint of businesses; so many choose to conduct meetings through calls or video calls where possible to minimize travel. Provided there is a strong connection and a high level of audio quality, these calls can be as beneficial, if not more advantageous than traditional face-to-face meetings.
During the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, lockdowns have been implemented across the globe, with many businesses forced to operate through a work-from-home model. This has dramatically increased the volume of calls and video calls made through UC providers. This has necessitated that workers are able to connect and collaborate easily with their colleagues. The ability of a UC provider to deliver high quality, uninterrupted and reliable services to their customers has become more crucial than ever before.
With so many providers available on the market, maintaining and consistently enhancing relationships with consumers is essential for determining the provider’s success. Organizations predominately choose a single UC provider for their communication services. However, it is imperative to note that even these consumers may use an alternative provider when communicating with external organizations. These experiences enable users to trial the service quality and ease of alternative toolsets. This can influence a customer’s decision to move to a new provider if problems such as audio quality issues arise. Once the decision has been made to move to a different provider, it is highly unlikely that the business will ever return to their former supplier. And yet, despite the ubiquitous nature of communication and collaboration technologies, a few key issues still plague the virtual meeting experience.
Poor Audio Quality:
Failure to connect to a call or conference is not the only predicament that can be faced when trying to use unified communications services. One, in particular, stands out as the largest threat to productivity: bad audio quality; it can make or break a meeting. If the quality of a call is poor, teams may misunderstand the information that they are hearing, this can lead to copious amounts of time being spent on repeating the same points. Research has shown that this can have a detrimental impact on businesses, especially in the case of a time sensitive project. A study commissioned by LoopUp, reveals that poor conference call practices can cost businesses up to $33 billion each year through lost time and diminished productivity.
When a particular UC provider began experiencing some issues with their audio quality, they decided to reach out to Spearline for assistance. Within two months of testing, there was an 85% decrease in their failure rate. This significantly reduced fault rate allows highly-skilled engineers to reclaim their time instead of focusing on fire-fighting problems. Additionally it had the benefit of helping the business to better understand and control their network; as well as improving their customer experience which leads to both customer retention and growth. Instances where measured audio quality fell below a desired threshold triggered alerts and resolver teams were provided with full CDRs (Call Detail Records) and event recordings to support a speedy investigation and root cause analysis for faster and more effective issue resolution.
During any communication, a key issue which stems from poor audio quality is susceptibility to background noise. This can be amplified during conference calls, as each participant introduces a number of individual factors and potential problems into the call. Background noise is not only a hindrance to the meeting; but it can also have a substantial negative impact on the health of the participating individuals. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health details that background noise can increase stress levels and exacerbate stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure and migraines. The stress caused by background noise may decrease higher brain function and impair learning and memory. The human brain struggles to process multiple stimuli at the same time and therefore reacts to the loudest source of input. When a conference call suffers from audio issues, including echo, background noise, poor volume or static, the brain has to work harder to focus on the most important source of sound. Organizations actively want to avoid these situations as it lowers employee productivity and increases frustrations. Therefore, businesses tend to invest resources in the best performing UC provider. Providers should continually monitor their numbers to ensure that they are providing the best service possible to their customers.
Importance of Audio:
Research has detailed that individuals are more accepting of a grainy image on the screen than they are of poor audio quality during a conference call. A study from USC has also shown that a lower quality of audio leads to a perceived lack of credibility or intelligence on the subject matter being discussed. Subsequent to the release of their study, Schwarz and Newman offered this advice: “Make sure you have good sound quality. Your credibility depends on it”. Audio quality is crucial, especially for organizations who conduct their sales pitches through such channels or who use these platforms to collaborate on work.
One must also consider the benefits to number testing that are more difficult to quantify numerically such as a rise in Net Promoter Score (NPS) and customer satisfaction scores.
By investing in a proactive telecommunications monitoring solution such as Spearline, UC providers can show their customers that they are dedicated to providing the optimal service at all times and that they are taking a proactive approach to monitoring their numbers.