Written by Brent Gaynor on April 14, 2020
H-E-L-L-O? VoIP Call Troubles When Working Remote
With work-from-home becoming the new norm, businesses with inbound customer support calls are having problems with VoIP call quality, especially when made over VPNs.
As recently as 2017-18, 29 percent of wage and salary workers said they could work from home in their job, but only one-quarter of these workers said they worked from home at least “occasionally.” Given the ongoing global health crisis, it’s unsurprising that about 85 percent of senior technology executives surveyed last month by CNBC said at least half of their employees are now remote.
The reverberations of the new normal for remote work that the Coronavirus pandemic has wrought extend far and wide. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, “as much as 90 percent of the 4.1 million workers in the Indian IT and business-processing industry are working at home. In the Philippines, where the IT and business process management industry employs 1.2 million people, companies are scrambling to set up home offices for employees.”
When it comes to business productivity and continuity, there are two emerging pain points that present challenges to organizations:
- Global call center operations. Businesses are relying on scores of call center agents working from home who are struggling to maintain a high quality of voice in unpredictable communications environments.
- Day-to-day workforce communications. Any organization with a work-from-home workforce must ensure these employees still have access to high quality inbound and outbound to remain productive.
An appropriate solution is one that can handle the volume of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)-based calls that call centers typically receive, but unfortunately, the kind of infrastructure that many organizations have in place largely fails at this task.
The VoIP Call Quality Challenge is Real
Let’s assume that, pre-pandemic, 10-20 percent of your staff normally worked from home. You now face a scenario where at least half your workforce is doing so. The communications technology and tools in place were not likely scoped for that dramatic and rapid of a capacity jump. At the heart of the scalability challenge is Virtual Private Network (VPN) connectivity, as many users are already bumping into VPN woes simply trying to access data and log into online accounts.
Even in an on-site business environment, VoIP quality can be hit-and-miss when relying on VPNs. They tend to be overwhelmed, contributing to added jitter and latency with VoIP calling. This is particularly damaging for call center operations because the degraded calling experience negatively impacts Mean Opinion Score (MOS) for VoIP call quality, which in turn threatens the quality of customer service and support your agents can provide.
Solving the VoIP Call Latency Conundrum
Organizations may be evaluating how to enable VoIP calls for the at-home workforce from different starting points, but many share one thing in common: urgency. Every day that you operate with an inferior communications infrastructure, is a day that compromises customer service quality, and ultimately, the bottom line.
In an attempt to solve the latency problem, maybe you’ve tried VPNs for VoIP calling and later abandoned it, due to a degraded voice experience. Perhaps you have considered Web Gateway and Firewall vendors, only to find that they too introduce too much latency for call center and work-from-home VoIP.
If you have considered providing work-from-home flexibility to your VoIP constrained staff but abandoned it due to likely call quality concerns from other vendors – you will find that AppGate doesn’t introduce the same limitations – in fact, staff have found even with basic internet access offerings AppGate provides an exceptional experience.
AppGate SDP for Secure, Latency-Free VoIP Calls
AppGate SDP, the industry’s most comprehensive Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) solution, enables businesses to rapidly support high quality VoIP calling for their at-home workforces. AppGate is a rapidly deployable software platform with proven throughput and scalability to handle the overnight transformation of the remote workforce.
It is not uncommon for enterprise VPNs to introduce 30-50 milliseconds of latency. Calls with over 100 milliseconds of latency degrade call quality. There is also the delays that come with the calls that travel half way around the world, and this can impact even the best VoIP architecture. Where traditional firewalls have 50,000-plus firewall rules which need to be evaluated on a single processor thread, AppGate SDP has patented technology which enables each session to have its own distinct access rules.
AppGate SDP evaluates only the rules specific to the device and user, each on its own processor thread, allowing multiple parallel lookups against a table of a handful of rules vs. a queued approach with several hundred thousand rules. AppGate SDP supports all layer 3/4 protocols to include SIP and H.323, and has been deployed for global work from home call center needs.
In the coming months, customer support operations will be more vital than ever. Financial services and healthcare organizations, for example, will be challenged by emotional, frightened and angry customers with urgent issues that need to be addressed in a timely fashion. Travel and hospitality firms will need to do everything possible to win customers back, while government agencies also must be able to deliver the highest level of citizen services at a time when people and business owners will turn to agency support lines for critical information on the stimulus package.
Through all of it, any business with an at-home workforce can ill afford to deal with the problems that come with traditional VPN architectures that impact call quality.
To find out how AppGate SDP can support your VoIP call network and remote workforce, click here.