VoIP systems, such as CloudTalk, are simpler, more efficient and safer ways of communication than traditional phone lines. That is why a growing number of forward-thinking businesses choose this solution. Yet, despite the advantages, no technology works flawlessly. Since the VoIP calls are broadcasted through an online channel, where countless data run at the same time, the software can sometimes experience sound issues.
That may cause some complications in communication with your clients. But don't worry, we present you with several VoIP best practices for high quality VoIP performance. Keep reading to find out more.
What is a VoIP Phone System?
VoIP - Voice Over Internet Protocol - transmits voice calls using the internet. It is the opposite to analogue phone lines that are transferring voice through cable.
Simply put, VoIP is a complex online calling system. It's a cloud-based online phone system.
How is VoIP Data Transferred?
To understand what can be wrong with your VoIP system, you may want to have a quick overview on how it works. When you start the phone call, all data is broken into small chunks. It's called voice packets. Packets are the way computers organize information to be transferred over a network. These make it easier for data to be transferred.
The packets are led through different paths one by one, which makes the data transfer as efficient as possible. Once all the data packets arrive at their final destination, they are put back together. It all happens in milliseconds.
This is how the standard process should look like. Yet, complications may occur if something goes wrong during this process. We will look closer into this a bit later.
Call Quality Monitoring
Considering potential sound issues, businesses that highly depend on VoIP communication need to regularly revise the quality of their calls. It may be done manually, through personal side-by-side monitoring. Yet, a more efficient way is to have software that automates many of your tasks.
You can then record your phone calls and listen to conversations anytime. This way, you have a chance to gain many valuable insights. Such as the performance of your staff, the way your customers are engaging, their likes, dislikes and pain points. Call recordings also showcase a call clarity. If there's a sound issue, they offer a quick way to recognize it. You can then fix whatever went south ASAP.
Most Common Types of VoIP Call Quality Issues
Echoing, disturbing noise, missing parts of conversation, one-way-audio and dropped calls stand in the way of closing deals and building relationships with your clients. Here are three most common VoIP issues that you might be experiencing:
If you were in a situation where a response came a few seconds later than it should have, you experienced latency, or “echo effect”. It doesn't lower audio quality, yet the sound is arriving in irregular intervals. Callers and agents then constantly interrupt each other, since both sides see the silence as an opportunity to speak.
Latency is caused by packets of data arriving from sender to receiver of a phone call 50 and more milliseconds later than it should have been. Because of this, sound arrives from sender to receiver with a delay.
Unlike with latency, jitter completely disrupts the audio quality - the speech is incoherent. Parts of audio may also be “skipped” or missing completely, causing awkward moments of silence.
Jitter happens when packets are delivered from sender to receiver in irregular intervals. Some are too fast, some are too slow. The practical example may go like this: When packet number 4 arrives before packet number 1, it causes inconsistency in data delivery. Therefore an inconsistency of sound.
In case jitter becomes extreme, it can lead to a packet loss about which we are going to talk next.
This occurs when the packet does not arrive at its final destination at all. To hear an audio correctly, you need all of them. When even one piece is missing, the whole packet gets lost. You hear no sound.
Commonly, this is known as a dropped call. These are one of the most harmful situations in clients' communication.
How to Troubleshoot VoIP Call Quality Issues
While unstable internet is one of the most common reasons for low sound quality issues, it's far from being the only one. Problems can be caused by malfunctions in any other parts of VoIP infrastructure. To troubleshoot the issues, you have to identify what performs incorrectly and find the way to fix it.
#1 Poor Sound Quality
Poor sound quality - jitter - is one of the most common issues affecting the quality of VoIP sound. How to solve it? First, determine whether the issue happens constantly or only at times when you use your network the most.
If it occurs during peak time of network usage, check QoS (Quality of Service) configurations in all devices that carry voice. Such as routers and switches. QoS prioritizes certain traffic types, such as VoIP, before standard data traffic. This can increase application performance and prevent your network from becoming overloaded. It also prevents the degradation of sound quality.
Verify that no packet queues are overflowing. If they do, solve the problem by implementing QoS appropriately. Make sure too much information is not transported at the same time.
You can also increase the priority of voice packets within your network. Solving the jitter issue can require increasing your bandwidth (maximum amount of data that can be transferred over the internet in a certain time period).
Further, Installing jitter buffers can help distribute packets smooter, by collecting, storing and sending the packets in even intervals. With jitter buffers, data packets will be more organized and deliver consistent sound. It may cause minor, almost unnoticeable delay in voice transmission. Yet, it's definitely a better experience for an end user than dealing with jitter.
#2 Sound Delays
Sound delays, known as latency, may be caused by network distance. For example from a satellite link. In this case, you should use alternate network technology.
You also need to determine whether the latency occurs due to congestion. A formation of a barrier, preventing data from flowing properly. If it does, examine your QoS configurations on all network links. Search for excessively large jitter buffers. It can, as we mentioned, cause minor sound delays. But if jitter buffers are too large, the sound delays grow larger, too.
Other troubleshooting steps are policy-based network management, hardware check or packet categorization.
#3 Dropped Calls
Since it is caused by packet loss, find out where it takes place. While there may be more root causes, there are two most common reasons. First, it can be due to network congestion. If that is the case, you probably have inadequate or poorly-planned QoS. Use appropriate Quality of Service configuration on all VoIP links.
Second most common reason for dropped calls are internet bandwidth issues. Check if you aren't hitting your bandwidth limit when your call volume spikes. In this scenario, packet loss is caused by insufficient data resources. You may need to extend it or reduce your online activities.
If none of these are the cause, there may be a problem with your equipment configuration. You can consider changing your headset or router.
How to Improve Sound Quality
You already know what can be potential sound issues and what may cause them. Now, let's take a look at some of VoIP best practices for ensuring an excellent call clarity.
#1 Audit Your System
VoIP software needs frequent monitoring. And mainly after software upgrades, also occasional reconfiguration. If your VoIP system experiences issues, search your system for any vulnerabilities that might have occurred in operating systems or applications. Check your level of protocols as well.
Regular audit of your system also prevents security threats. It's extremely useful, since some malware can shut down all your VoIP calling processes. But to make your life easier, you may want to choose a truly secure VoIP system to begin with.
With CloudTalk, your data and services are always safe. All of them are stored in a modern data center that is monitored 24/7. Our software is in compliance with ISO 27001:2013 security certification.
#2 Purchase New Compression Software
VoIP networks receive and send digital signals. Before leaving the system, these signals are compressed in two possible ways: lossless compression (reduces data size without any quality loss) and lossy compression (removes data from original file). Lossy compression also gets rid of background noises from VoIP calls.
Yet, your current compression software may be incompatible with your VoIP calls. For example, overly powerful. That can lead to compressing too much data, causing that data signals make no sense for your system. If you want to ensure a high quality VoIP sound, try to purchase new, more compatible compression software. A one that is less harsh on your voice.
#3 Reduce Interference
Interference may occur in case of phones with higher Gigahertz (GHz) frequencies. Typical VoIP phone runs at 2,4 GHz. There are also 5 and 5,8 GhZ phones. The 2,4 GhZ phone creates a longer data coverage, but makes it travel slower. A 5 GhZ phone system makes data flow faster, yet provides less coverage.
To avoid interference due to fast data flow with less coverage, prefer a 2,4 GhZ phone. It ensures a seamless sound experience. Some routers have an ability to choose whether you want to run 2,4 GHz or 5 GHz spectrum, or even both of them simultaneously. That gives you a choice which traffic will run in which spectrum, according to suitability for specific situations.
#4 Invest in Headset
Until now, we were mostly talking about software issues. Yet, poor VoIP call quality can be as well caused by inadequate hardware. If you have a call center or you're making sales calls on a daily basis, your business probably relies on it. Don't try to save on necessities. Investing money in a top-class headset is crucial for high quality VoIP. The microphone quality and material durability, such as strong cables, are extremely important. If these aspects are poor, you cannot expect excellent voice clarity.
Common issues, caused by low quality headset, are sound distortion (interruptions) and one-way audio. A cheap headset can also disconnect from applications if the users stay silent for too long. Or it may refuse to be recognized by certain operating systems.
#5 Upgrade to VoIP Optimised Router
A lot of businesses, mainly small ones, are using the same router for voice calls and for data. If you have a powerful router, it can cope with this amount of traffic. Yet, if it is not of sufficient power, using one router for everything will cause you sound issues. The bandwidth space for call transmitting is affected by all other users of the network.
The best choice for call centers is VoIP optimized router. Whenever necessary, it prioritizes VoIP traffic over data communication. It's equally important that your router supports SIP (Session Initiation Protocol). SIP helps to deliver data through the server reliably. You may also consider VLAN support. It groups and disperse data due to where latency is lowest.
If you are at home-office using a VoIP solution that allows your stuff to work from anywhere, make sure to look for a router with a QoS feature. It makes it easy for users to adjust the device by themselves. This router allows you to pick a type of traffic and ensure that it gets priority.
#6 Try to Avoid WiFi
Calling through WiFi increases a chance to experience VoIP quality issues. WiFi coverage is unstable and unpredictable. You cannot truly rely on its consistency. Also, WiFi is not designed for real-time applications usage. What's more, there are probably a lot of other devices connected on the same WiFi. This way, your VoIP must compete for bandwidth space.
For the highest quality connection, use ethernet. It helps to bypass problems of interference. It can also eliminate microwaves and fluorescent lights near your audio input. These sometimes also cause sound interruptions.
#7 Reduce Bandwidth Usage
Bandwidth was mentioned a lot until now. Not accidentally. A sufficient bandwidth space belongs to the most important requirements for seamless VoIP data packet flow. To prevent VoIP call issues, you need around 100 kbps (kilobytes per second) in both directions.
As we said, you can buy a stronger, VoIP optimized router. Yet there is another, simpler and cheaper solution to widen bandwidth space. You simply need to reduce other processes, such as running multiple applications simultaneously.
This can be done by integrating your VoIP system, for example with CRM. Then you only need to open one platform at a time, since everything is available within a single space. In CloudTalk, we offer multiple integration options to choose from, such as Zendesk, HubSpot, Intercom, etc.
To widen bandwidth space, you may also restrict downloads during the time when VoIP calls are being made. Further, perform important updates at night.
Even the most flawless technologies experience drawbacks. Sound delays, poor audio or constant dropped calls can cause inconveniences in closing deals. As well as in building relationships with clients. If you find yourself in this situation, there are many ways to improve the VoIP performance. Some of the VoIP best practices for improving sound are auditing your system on a regular basis, investing into a quality headset or buying VoIP optimized router, avoiding making calls using WiFi and many more.
Yet, the best way to obtain high quality VoIP performance is to use an exceptional VoIP system to begin with. CloudTalk ensures perfectly clear calls. We also offer 50+ additional features, including seamless integration.
If you are searching for top-notch audio experience, you came to the right place.
Choose one of the most popular call center softwares on the market.
Give CloudTalk a go.