Factors Affecting Contact Centre Audio Quality


Kevin Buckley of Spearline makes the case for proactively measuring call quality on toll and toll-free numbers worldwide.

The need to measure the audio quality of calls may seem self-evident, but you’d be surprised how many companies fail to take this into account when assessing their overall quality of customer experience.

Of course, amongst the biggest users of international toll and toll-free number systems are contact centres.


Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services can be complex.  Measuring technological factors that impact connectivity and call quality, and then relating those to customer experience, can be a challenge.

Up until relatively recently, companies were unable to assess overseas toll and toll-free numbers other than to measure the effectiveness of the computer networks that were at the heart of the technology.

Standard measurements of packet loss, jitter, and latency within these networks are typically used to measure quality.

However, the actual audio quality of calls cannot be accurately measured using these criteria and, as a result, Spearline developed the in-country number test to include an audio quality algorithm based on the international standard Perceptual Evaluation of Speech Quality (PESQ).

Common quality measurements in contact centre agent evaluation:

  • Number of calls handled per hour
  • Time taken to deal with calls
  • First call resolution score
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Abandoned calls
  • Employee turnover

If one looks at each of these representative metrics (only a handful of the many used across many different industries) you can see that there are many different factors that can affect the outcomes.

For instance, the number of calls handled per hour could vary widely depending on the type of industry involved. A call to a financial advisor helpline or mortgage company where selling a financial instrument or mortgage is involved could conceivably take much longer than a call to book an appointment to see a doctor.

However, within the same industry, the call length should be easier to define.

Audio Quality as a Factor

Surprisingly, there appears to be almost no research within the industry around the question of audio quality of the calls.

If there is, the research normally relates to the environment in which the call centre agents operate, acoustic shielding, noise-cancelling headphones, etc.

Almost no one mentions the actual quality of the sound transmitted during the call.

Yet anyone who has made an overseas call, especially using VoIP, will have noted multiple occasions when the audio quality was so poor it caused them to have a prolonged conversation or indeed to give up and try again.

Inability to Measure Audio Quality

Very few companies have been able to measure accurately the audio quality of high volumes of calls.

Any of the above-mentioned factors have an audio quality component which is vital to measure in order to improve productivity and quality outcomes.

In-Country Number Test

There are many companies that provide tools to measure audio quality.

In the case of Spearline, measurements are taken using in-country calls and the quality is benchmarked against a data set of millions of tests to date.

The tests give an accurate reflection of the customer–contact centre interaction from an audio quality point of view, including recordings of each and every test made.

A thumbnail photo of Kevin Buckley

Kevin Buckley

The tests are automatically scheduled, cloud-based and have a reporting system that can be tailored to each company’s requirements.

In addition, the company offers a complete managed service including, testing, reporting, fixing and maintenance advice in order to maximize quality across your entire system wherever you are in the world.

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 13th Sep 2019 - Last modified: 16th May 2024
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