According to this recent Qualtrics study that examined more than 2,000 consumers, 100 contact center agents, and thousands of customer journeys, it only takes one interaction with a contact center to change how 78% of consumers feel about a company… permanently. That’s it. A single interaction.
Based on that, it becomes vitally important that contact centers set their teams up for success so that every time a call is routed to an agent, they can hear and speak clearly with the caller to help them accomplish their goals. And not just for the agents working within the walls of contact center cubicles, but also those who are dispersed around the world, either in outsourced service centers or, if you’re like the estimated 70% of businesses who are likely to continue allowing their agents to work from home in some capacity in the post-COVID world, your agents working out of their home offices.
To accommodate that rapidly growing contact center setup, cloud-based contact center platforms (CCaaS) are gaining in popularity at a more accelerated rate than even the experts predicted. And while there are many benefits to running cloud-based contact centers and offering agents the option to work from home, it still leaves those in charge of contact center operations with the responsibility of testing and assuring every element of this new work environment, including:
- Hardware (computers, headsets, microphones, etc)
- Software (Softphone/dialer system, web browser plugins, etc)
- Reliability and Security Vulnerabilities
- Network Connections (Internet)
Each element plays an important role in delivering a great customer experience for every caller who picks up the phone to connect with your business. And if something goes wrong, voice quality can suffer due to one of the following, common culprits:
- Codec incompatibility in legacy SIP-based contact centers. This is the software that allows us to efficiently move voice traffic by compressing and decompressing the voice signal
- Excessive transfers, which may result in a loss of volume with each transfer
The caller’s voice network provider, the most obvious example being a poor cell signal based on location
- Bandwidth constraints, which can result in packet loss leading to jitter (voice signal breaking up), echoing, low volume, and other conditions that make it difficult for the customer and the agent to communicate effectively. This is especially at risk for at-home agents who are sharing Internet connection with neighbors, family members, or housemates that may also be working from home or participating in online learning, or… let’s be honest, teenagers on summer break who are nonstop gaming with buddies in the comfort of AC and near enough to the snack cupboard to do some serious Dorito damage.
With all that complexity, continuously testing and monitoring for voice quality is imperative. It's a key indicator of issues stemming from all the various possible breakpoints within cloud contact center platforms, and if voice quality is suffering, so are your customers.
Voice quality testing should be run at every stage of the development lifecycle, including functional and regression testing during development, load testing before deployment, and monitoring in production. And, while testing for voice quality problems from the customer’s perspective (calling into your IVR system just as one of your callers would to hear what interactions sound like from their point of view) is absolutely critical, it’s not the only path you should test.
Instead, a more comprehensive and effective approach is to test customer journeys from end-to-end, and bi-directionally. Huh?
Bi-directional testing is quality testing from the customer to the agent, in both directions, including all the way to the agent handset. Bi-directional testing of a telephony system uses an audio generation device (AGD) configured to automate Perceptual Evaluation of Speech Quality assessments and connect to a communication endpoint through computer telephony integration (CTI). During this type of testing, the customer journey under observation is auto-answered, and the automated testing solution listens, records, and processes signals and audio data, calculates Mean Opinion Scores (MOS), generates signals and audio for playback, compares files using a reference algorithm, and stores data with MOS results displayed in data naming structure.
When testing bi-directionally, there are points that need to be specifically tested:
- The customer-to-IVR portion, which will tell you if there are quality issues between the customer’s equipment and your IVR
- The whole communication chain, from the customer to the agent, in both directions. This enables you to find incidences at any point in the chain where the customer or agent has difficulty in hearing one another.
Cyara can help test, not just from the customer perspective, but also from the agent perspective, assuring the entire customer journey and helping you gain visibility over voice quality.
Learn more about the important role Voice Quality plays in your overall Customer Experience in, Voice Quality: A Critical Factor in a Great Customer Experience on our blog, and discover how Cyara’s Automated CX Assurance Platform can, in real-time, assess voice quality in both directions, quantifying both agent and customer audio and displaying that information either as individual data traces or combined into an average whether your contact center agents are in-house or at home. .