Many businesses are swapping out private branch exchange business phone systems for voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)-based options, spurring a 17.5 percent growth rate in the market, according to IBIS World. VoIP operates over your data network, instead of phone lines, which introduces additional network considerations when you implement this system.
Voice data gets processed alongside other types of data, instead of through its own dedicated line, so you need to approach network optimization to ensure a high-quality customer service experience. Eighty-six percent of customers go to competitors after a bad customer service experience, according to HelpScout, making call quality and network optimization high priorities for improving your customer experience.
1. Ensure Quality of Service
Quality of service (QoS) is a way to prioritize voice data over other data packets on your network. Instead of sending all data packets with the same priority, voice and video calls get priority as latency has a major impact on your call quality.
Without QoS, you run into issues with delays and jitter. Voice data delays manifest as slow responses or echoes on the line, which can lead to customer frustration and miscommunication. Latency, jitter, packet loss, and bursts are four areas QoS features address.
2. Ensure Grade of Service
The grade of service (GoS) covers the likelihood that an incoming or outgoing call gets dropped due to network congestion. A poor GoS can result in a call taking longer than normal to connect to your phone system, or the call may drop entirely. If you can’t communicate within your office or with your customers, you can’t do business. You can address GoS issues by improving your call routing capacity.
3. Upgrade Network Infrastructure
Sometimes your network hardware and bandwidth simply isn’t enough to handle your VoIP traffic. If you’re struggling with call quality, dropped calls, and network congestion, look at your connection and hardware to determine your best investment areas. Adding network capacity to your business helps you deal with high call volume, but you also need to keep your network hardware up to date so you aren’t being held back by substandard equipment.
4. Look at Codecs
Sometimes all you need for a quality edge is a codec improvement. A VoIP codec compresses and decompresses your voice data to improve quality and reduce bandwidth requirements, compared to sending purely uncompressed data across the network. Several VoIP codecs are available, with different bit rates, sampling rates, and other features. The G.711.1 codec, for example, uses more bandwidth than the G.711 codec, but it uses the extra bandwidth to improve sound quality.
5. Streamline Your VoIP Infrastructure
A best-in-breed software configuration may help you get the best solution for each specialized function, but these solutions don’t always integrate gracefully with each other. If you have several solutions from different vendors and the integration is cobbled together at best, voice quality may suffer as it passes through different applications. A single vendor solution can solve some voice quality issues, or custom development tying disparate solutions together.
Your VoIP voice quality is an integral part of the customer experience, as well as essential for your business communication. You won’t always get the best quality out of the box when you switch, but with some network improvements, you can deliver the quality you expect from a dedicated line, through your network infrastructure.