The importance of audio quality for contact centers

audio quality in the contact center

Imagine having frequent-flyer membership of an airline and calling their premium club line only to be met with poor audio quality.

You may be on a business trip. You may need to make a last-minute change to your return flight. But your conversation with the agent takes twice as long as it should. Poor audio quality means you’re constantly repeating yourself.

Or imagine being on holiday and thinking your credit card may have been cloned. In a panic, you call the number on the back of the card. The connection is so poor you end up shouting your card details down the phone in public.

What impact would that have on your customer experience? And how could poor audio quality be affecting your contact center?

Customer experience

It’s important to get the basics right.

There are many tactics for improving customer experience. Improved CX raises CSat (customer satisfaction) levels, NPS (net promoter score), and CES (customer effort score). At its most basic level, your contact numbers need to connect your customer to an agent consistently. The phone line needs to provide adequate audio quality so that they can conduct a clear conversation and address the customer’s issue effectively.

Poor audio quality will have a negative impact on your customers’ experience. That frequent flyer member will feel frustrated by the end of their call. No matter how good their flight ends up being, that poor experience over the phone will stick.

Agent experience

Just as your customers suffer because of poor audio quality, your agents do too. Spending a full shift on the phone is tiring. The concentration required to hear and be heard on a poor audio channel can cause fatigue.

Spend as much money as you like on the acoustics of your call center. Invest in noise-cancelling headsets, acoustic tiles … when the audio quality on the calls coming in is poor, then an agent’s job is always going to be harder than it needs to be. They will be prone to errors and they are going to be exhausted by the effort involved.

If you’re concerned about your agents’ experience (and are watching your advisor satisfaction/employee net promoter score (ENPS)), then one of the fundamental things you can do to improve this is to ensure that your phone lines have good audio quality.

Reliability of tech

Newer technologies like speech recognition or voice biometrics can offer valuable efficiencies and cost savings by reducing call times. These provide a more streamlined experience for customers. But, just as the basic need for decent audio quality is fundamental for customer and agent experience, it’s also essential for many new technologies to work correctly.

That speech recognition or voice biometrics software you’ve invested heavily in will simply not work if the audio quality coming in is poor.

Call durations/handling times and first call resolution

If both your customer and your agent are struggling to communicate through poor audio quality, inevitably, the call can take longer to resolve.

For inbound calls, in the worst cases the customer may even have to call back to complete their objective, affecting both the customer’s experience and your first call resolution/first time fix rate.

For outbound sales and marketing calls or agent call-backs, customer experience can similarly suffer from poor audio quality, but so also can average call times – with an immediate impact on your bottom line.

For many contact centers, taking even a few seconds off each call, small improvements to first call resolution rates, or shaving a few valuable seconds off post-dial delay on all outbound calls, can represent a significant cost saving.

How do you know if you have a problem with audio quality?

Our number testing solutions let you test your contact numbers using over 70 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.

Find out more about how you can proactively test your contact numbers, and get an objective measure of audio quality on your phone lines, here.

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