VoIP quality and reliability? No problem.

VoIP is often blamed for quality or reliability issues with phone and call centre systems, but in reality it is completely ready for carrier-class communications.

March 28, 2012

BY BRUCE VON MALTITZ, DIRECTOR OF 1STREAM

Rubbish in, rubbish out
VoIP is often blamed for quality or reliability issues with phone and call centre systems, but in reality it is completely ready for carrier-class communications.

As evidence of their belief in their own technology, it is common for cloud-based call centre hosts to have end-to-end VoIP installed in their own environments. In addition, carriers around the world are increasingly interconnected via VoIP.

The truth is that any number of other technology-related issues could be the reason for your call centre system experiencing problems – VoIP need not be the reason.

If, however, a call centre skimps on the VoIP solution, access or implementation, problems are very likely to crop up. As with anything, you get out what you put in.

Maybe it’s the system
It is one thing to shop around for price when the system you’re buying is a commodity, but quite another to go for gold and get the cheapest one there is. Don’t do it.

Maybe it’s the provider
Look into the credentials of your provider. Has it done anything worth mentioning for anyone? You don’t want to risk having your application hosted on a single sub-standard server.

The same concerns are applicable on the client’s side of the implementation, especially with on-site installations; your system can fail when proper site readiness or change management is overlooked.

Maybe it’s the line
Choosing ADSL as your connectivity option is another way of skimping on technology. ADSL is quite simply not voice-ready. Use it and you’re not assured of voice quality.

In short, VoIP is not the problem. When you’ve eliminated the call centre system, integrator, line and site issues, chances are you will have identified any quality or reliability concerns.

Quality bandwidth is NOT expensive
If ADSL is not the answer, the next step up is a leased line or fibre. Isn’t quality bandwidth terribly expensive then? In a word, no.

Firstly, bandwidth accounts for only a percentage of your technology investment in a call centre, which in total makes up only 7-10% of your total costs.

Secondly, a leased line is not as expensive as it looks. Do the sums: At R3500 a month, a primary rate interface (PRI) ISDN line offers 30 channels. By comparison, a 1Mbps leased line costing less than R3500 per month offers 40 channels (presuming a voice call requires roughly 25Kbps).

Which cost is greater?
Ultimately, bargain basement shopping for VoIP is neither necessary nor worth it. While it can only save your call centre a miniscule portion of your total costs, it can have a very destructive effect on your competitive advantage, and even your sustainability. The rubbish dump is full of companies that wish they’d been available to take telephonic orders.

Spend a reasonable amount on proper bandwidth and other technology, and it can be trusted to do its job – which is to make your people (your greatest cost and the key to your call centre’s success) more productive and effective, and to make your operations more efficient.

The question is not the cost of quality bandwidth, but the cost of skimping on something so mission-critical.