The Importance of Audio Quality for Contact Centres

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Filed under - Industry Insights,

Josh O’Farrell answers the question: how could poor audio quality be affecting how your customers experience your contact centre?

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 and want to quickly make a last-minute change to your return flight.

But your conversation with the agent takes twice as long as it should because the audio quality means you’re constantly repeating yourself.

Or imagine being on holiday and thinking your credit card might have been cloned. In a panic, you call the number on the back of the card, but 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 centre?

Customer experience

In a Gartner webinar on customer service technology trends, one of their analysts referenced their prediction that about 40% of the new applications for chatbots and virtual assistants being piloted this year would be abandoned by 2020.

Another echoed the warning that good customer experience does not always equal ‘cool, new innovation’.

It’s important to get the basics right first.

There are many tactics for improving customer experience, and hence CSat (customer satisfaction) levels, NPS (net promoter score) and CES (customer effort score).

But, at its most basic level, your contact numbers need to connect your customer to an agent consistently.

And 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, and no matter how good their flight ends up being, that poor experience over the phone will stick.

Agent experience

Just as your customers suffer from poor audio quality, your agents do too. If you spend all day on the phone and are constantly having to repeat yourself to be understood, the concentration and effort can cause fatigue.

Spend as much money as you like on the acoustics of your call centre, noise-cancelling headsets, white noise generators…

if 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 are always going to be prone to errors and they are always 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 lines have good audio quality.

Reliability of tech

New technologies like speech recognition or voice biometrics can offer valuable efficiency savings by reducing call times and offering 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, the call may 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 callbacks, customer experience can similarly suffer from a poor audio quality, but so also can average call times – with an immediate impact on your bottom line.

For many contact centres, 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.

Josh O’Farrel

Josh O’Farrell

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

Number testing solutions let you test your contact numbers using 67 (and growing) in-country points of presence worldwide.

These tools, like Spearline, 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.

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 10th Oct 2019 - Last modified: 16th Oct 2019
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