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Essential Deployment Considerations When Moving to a Cloud Call Center – Part 1: Call Quality

September 16, 2013 / Rich Fox

There are a lot of things to consider when moving from a premise-based call center to a cloud call center. Once you’ve made the decision and it is time to deploy the cloud call center, there is a specific set of items to consider. Some of the key considerations are call quality, change management, training, migration and planning for the unexpected.

In this first of five parts, we will look at Call Quality.

Let’s start with Call Quality…because, after all, we are talking about a call center and being in the business of talking over the phone. Of course we need quality calls to keep our customer satisfaction high, but that is not the only type of call quality that is important. What I’m referring to is literally the quality of the voice connection. Although mobile phones have become ubiquitous in today’s society, we all experience regular issues where calls are choppy, garbled, or seem like we are talking to a person on the moon via a tin can. THAT is the quality we are talking about. No organization wants the type of low call quality on their business phone calls.

I can boil this down to one major decision: are you connecting to your cloud contact center via a private network? In other words, do you purchase connections to the cloud service provider (from them or a third party carrier) that is dedicated to just handling your voice traffic? This is a private connection between you and the underlying technology platform. The reason you install a private connection is to guarantee what is called Quality of Service or QoS. Through a private connection you are able to completely control the technology elements that can negatively impact the quality of your calls.

The other option is to use the Public Internet to connect to the cloud. You basically “plug in” to the Internet and ride those connections that are shared by your neighbors, other businesses, and all those social media & video streaming lunatics out there. You simply are riding the waves of the Internet and that is the wild, wild West.

To understand this more, let’s talk for a moment about QoS. QoS, in a nutshell, is about ensuring the priority of your voice traffic. Your voice travels in small chunks called packets; if those packets get delayed, or if some take a circuitous route and arrive out of sequence, your calls will become garbled or choppy. With QoS, the network prioritizes those packets just like you and I prioritize our day; but it does it in real-time in nano-seconds since voice traffic demands a high-quality connection.

The network that is handling your voice packets needs to have intelligence to give those packets priority over others that can be delayed. If the network is getting congested, QoS will delay your web search a few milliseconds through this intelligence, but, you’ll never know that was done and the network has preserved the quality of voice call by prioritizing it over the web search.

Similarly, a heavy streaming download can be slowed down to make bandwidth available for the voice traffic that needs to “leap frog” ahead because it’s more important and simply can’t be delayed. Even the transaction that is being conducted inside one of your business applications can be modified by the network since nothing is important as that voice call.

A private network gives you QoS. It understands the different types of traffic and prioritizes them accordingly. When your voice traffic travels a public network there is no prioritization, no intelligence – all traffic is basically treated as if of equal importance.

So why would you use a Public Internet connection to handle your voice traffic? Because it’s darn cheap – that’s why! The availability of very, very high bandwidth at dirt cheap prices makes it very compelling.
Meanwhile, private networks cost more money for less bandwidth, but you can control them and apply that QoS intelligence.

So why can’t you get QoS over the Internet? It’s a conglomeration of many interconnected networks that aren’t smart enough to support QoS. Each request you make on the web may take a different path depending on what’s going on at that moment in time; that’s the nature of the Internet.

Some providers, like Evolve IP, can supply a direct Internet connection that supports QoS – but, for the most part, when you purchase an Internet connection that’s simply not available to you due to the interconnectedness of those networks.

If you call your Internet Provider for Tech Support and tell them you are having a problem with voice connection on their network to a cloud call center, they aren’t going to be able to help you. They are likely to offer to sell you their services but they won’t help you resolve your voice quality issue.

So…what’s the right approach? GREAT question!

I recommend private networks for most organizations that want to have smooth sailing across the network. I recommend the use of a private network as the primary means of handling voice traffic AND use an existing public Internet connection as the backup plan. That is, calls traverse the private network and if that network is unavailable, then the calls will automatically travel over the Internet until that private connection is available again. That way, you get the benefit of both networks, and only use the Internet for those couple times a year when you are encountering network issues.

Many small-businesses are willing to accept the tradeoff that there will be some periods of time where calls simply won’t be great. This is a typical risk vs. reward business decision. You may roll the dice and be smooth sailing the vast majority of the time, but other times you may hit that submerged obstacle that you never saw.

Please be sure to check back here next week to read about Change Management.

Categories: Contact Center
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