Guide

A Guide on Call Quality and How to Improve It

Guide to call quality hero
Table of Contents
    Table of Contents

      You can be the best in the business at what you do, but if call quality is low, that is the experience that will stick in your customers' minds. At best, low-quality phone service is annoying. At worst, it compromises critical communication and negatively impacts your ability to compete.

      HD calling, also known as Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP, provides crystal clear communication via the cloud. However, it requires a reliable network and internet service provider to ensure your call quality remains pristine.

      This guide on call quality and its importance provides essential information about common call issues and how to measure and improve call quality. But first, a little about the concept of call quality when it comes to HD or VoIP calling.

      Understanding Call Quality

      VoIP is an internet protocol that breaks the sound of your voice into thousands of tiny digital packets. These packets move along the network at the most efficient path to reach their destination. Once there, the packets are reassembled and your words are conveyed to the people on the other end of your call.

      Good call quality requires a robust network that can reliably convey all packets to their destination to be put back together into a coherent whole. It's important to keep in mind that not all networks provide the same level of service, and that local internet service can also affect call quality.

      You may have excellent call quality from the office, but the call quality from other locations, such as your home office, may move across networks that are not optimized for HD calling. Your internet and router settings can also affect call quality.

      How to Identify Common Call Quality Issues

      Three common issues can wreak havoc on clear communication using VoIP: packet loss, jitter, and latency. Continue reading for more details about what each term means.

      Packet Loss

      VoIP breaks sound into tiny digital packets that move along the network. They don't all necessarily move in order or even along the same route. The goal is to get those packets to their endpoint as quickly as possible. Once there, they are reassembled in the correct order for natural sound to issue from the speaker.

      But what if some of the packets are lost? If there are network issues, packets may be dropped inadvertently on their way to the endpoint. Missing packets result in sound loss experienced by callers as a drop in audio.

      If the packet loss is severe enough, the call is partially or even entirely dropped.

      Jitter

      You may have heard jitter during a call. It occurs when there is a change in the amount of time it takes for the packets to travel across the network. They get stuck somewhere, often because the network is congested.

      The result is sound that arrives at the caller at irregular intervals and creates a choppy audio sound.

      Latency

      Latency is somewhat related to jitter. It has to do with the amount of time it takes a packet to travel across the network. Instead of irregular intervals, the entire message arrives later than intended. Callers experience "double talk," even if they stop speaking ahead of hearing audio from the other end.

      The audio delays make conversation tricky, with people accidentally speaking over each other.

      Importance of Call Quality

      With these issues in mind, how do you measure VoIP (HD) call quality?

      How to Measure Call Quality for VoIP

      As mentioned before, the quality of VoIP calls is highly dependent on the network involved. High-speed internet has the required bandwidth to handle HD calling. A slow or bad connection jeopardizes your ability to place calls and communicate clearly. The same applies to cell service.

      The industry standard for measuring call quality is the Mean Opinion Score or MOS. It takes several critical metrics, including latency, jitter, and packet loss, to measure overall listening quality. MOS is a numerical measure quantifying the subjective experience of sound registering on the human ear.

      How is Mean Opinion Score measured?

      MOS is measured on a scale from 1.0 to 5.0. A score of 3.5 means around half of the users will complain about low voice quality. A high MOS score indicates the network is handling the call correctly. The listener receives all required sounds for clear communication.

      Secondary metrics include measurements of the R-factor, which measures live, real-time user experience with the calls. It includes delay, echo, and recency. Measuring gap and burst density helps troubleshoot packet loss issues, whereas measuring the quality of service (QoS) monitors transmission quality.

      VoIP service providers measure these and other metrics to ensure consumers experience high-quality communications. Those who use VoIP services measure customer experience with service quality. Together, these metrics help track issues for troubleshooting and monitor trends to aid in process improvement.

      How to Improve Call Quality

      While your VoIP provider is responsible for everything that happens after your voice enters the system, there are several ways you can fix poor call quality from your end.

      Hang Up the Speakerphone

      If you aren't having a group meeting, don't use the speakerphone for one-on-one calls. Often, a laptop microphone is insufficient. Occasionally, you or your listener will experience an echo effect, especially if you have your phone and computer microphone running simultaneously.

      Take calls on a good pair of headphones or take the call on your mobile or desk phone.

      Select a Good Headset

      If you have ever been in an open office setting, you know how distracting noise can be. The right headset can mitigate or eliminate much of the noise, and they often come with excellent microphones. Some headsets have noise-canceling features built in that include dual-mode active noise cancellation (ANC) that adjusts to your environment.

      Wired headsets, either corded or USB, often deliver a clearer conversation than Bluetooth or other wireless models.

      Reduce Bandwidth Across the Network

      Network congestion is a primary cause of jitter. When there's too much traffic across the network, collisions become inevitable, rather like a highway at rush hour.

      Your IT department can use most network monitoring tools to identify the packet streams carrying VoIP data on the network. Once identified, this data can be tagged for protection using Quality of Service (QoS) features in the router.

      Manage bandwidth for your company by measuring network activity and adding hardware and software to take some of the load. Also, move your router settings to optimize for VoIP. If you need a single, particularly robust line for video conferencing, you may be able to set up a dedicated virtual network just for VoIP traffic.

      Enhance the Mobile Experience

      One study showed that employee mobility can lead to 30% better processes and 23% more productivity. Your employees must trust the quality of the mobile apps they use when they don't have access to the office WiFi.

      Dialpad offers both VoIP and carrier calling through iOS and Android applications. When your employees leave the office, they can switch from WiFi to carrier seamlessly. Call quality remains intact.

      Other benefits of using mobile apps include:

      Especially for staff on the go, the mobile experience is everything.

      Test Call Quality Before Calling

      VoIP services will require internet access, and the network and devices connected need to be adjusted appropriately to handle the calls. Otherwise, call quality may suffer.

      With Dialpad, you can run an individual test on any computer without contacting your IT department, making it easy to test your network connection's health. To do so, follow these steps:

      • Open your desktop application.
      • Select App Settings from the profile drop-down menu to display the option to test the network and audio connection.
      • A configuration wizard takes you through a step-by-step assessment of your microphone connection, audio playback, network connectivity, data transfer, VoIP, and audio input.

      Ensure your customers have the best call quality by making sure all systems are "go" before the call.

      Submit and Monitor Call Quality Ratings

      If you don't mention issues, they can't be fixed. Remember to rate call quality as soon as the call ends. This can be done automatically on Dialpad, whether on desktop or mobile.

      Calls with one or two-star ratings automatically include a drop-down menu with common issues that you can attach to the call record. Also, you can add details for our team in the Notes field.

      Better Call Quality with Dialpad

      Call quality is one of the most critical parts of the customer experience. It reflects directly on your business, even if problems are not your fault.

      Selecting a VoIP service provider that understands business communication means you have one less thing to worry about. Dialpad offers services that include ensuring a robust network with appropriate settings, troubleshooting, world-class customer service whenever you need it, and 100% uptime SLA.

      Now that you understand the importance of call quality, give Dialpad a try and see how your business can benefit from HD calling services for your business phone, contact center, and video conferencing needs.