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Terrible Conference Calls: How to Solve Them for Good

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UC Monitoring and Management Take the Guess Work out of User Experience for Conference Calls

When end-users and teams speak about conference calls, it’s very rarely a positive conversation – often full of frustrating (though sometimes laugh-worthy) anecdotes about poor experiences. Yet, odds are, as much as you might despise conference calls, you and your business still very much rely on them. In fact, Silicon Valley-based communications solution provider Ooma recently conducted a survey and found that over half of respondents typically have at least one conference call a week.

With all these conference calls taking place, it’s time to ask what the root of the conference call problems may be. Are these issues really just dropped calls and poor audio, or do they stem from network interference, inadequate or outdated hardware, poor system architecture, end-user errors or lack of systems training, or perhaps even old or bad endpoint device performance?

Weekly Conference Calls Are Unavoidable Wondering what the most popular frequency for conference calls is? While a small percentage of our survey respondents have daily conference calls, the majority said that they have weekly conference calls. How Often Do You Typically Have Conference Calls? Daily: 12 percent Weekly: 54 percent Monthly: 20 percent Quarterly: 10 percent Annually: 4 percent That means that, in total, 86 percent of respondents are having conference calls at least once per month. Going Dark: Do You Mute During Conference Calls? With so much time dedicated to group telephone meetings, we wanted to know what people’s habits and behaviors were. When asked, 75 percent of people report that they mute their line at least once during the call. However, mute can be helpful. We found that 49 percent of people have had conference calls while in an awkward location. In fact, our survey respondents were forthcoming about the adventurous places from which they’ve had conference calls. There were stories of having conference calls at airport gates, subway platforms, while exercising, and more. However, the wildest tales of conference call locations were in the middle of their child’s music recital, while in a bathroom, from a fire truck, and in a church foyer. Most People Think Their Conference Call Quality Is Pretty Good When asked about the quality of their conference calls, most respondents were satisfied with the service that they use. Dropped calls are no longer the norm, and access codes or PINs work most of the time. How Is the Call Quality of Your Conference Calls? Great: 13 percent Pretty good: 61 percent No complaints: 14 percent It’s not that great: 12 percent Do You Ever Get Dropped When You’re on a Conference Call? Frequently: 1 percent Occasionally: 22 percent Rarely: 54 percent Never: 23 percent How Often Do You Have Problems With Your Access Code or PIN? Always: 2 percent Usually: 7 percent Sometimes: 24 percent Rarely: 39 percent Never: 28 percent Gadgets Used for Conference Calls Vary When you’re on a conference call, you rarely know what the other callers’ experience is and what devices they’re calling from. It turns out that no one device holds the majority for making phone calls. What Device Do You Most Often Use for Conference Calls? Meeting room conference phone (such as the Yealink CP860): 31 percent Office desk phone (such as the Cisco SPA 504G): 30 percent Conferencing app (such as WebEx, Zoom, or GoToMeeting): 19 percent Mobile phone: 17 percent Home phone: 3 percent Although the call quality during conference calls is high overall, there’s some variance as to which devices provide better quality. Average call quality was reported from meeting room conference phones and office desk phones. The lowest call quality was reported from those who regularly use conferencing apps. The highest call quality was reported from those who use mobile phones. Rate of Above Average Call Quality by Device Meeting room conference phone: 74 percent Office desk phone: 70 percent Conferencing app: 63 percent Mobile phone: 91 percent Home phone: 86 percent When on a conference call, the majority of people participate by using the speakerphone function on their device. How do you typically interact on a conference call? Speakerphone: 63 percent Headset: 24 percent Hold the phone to your ear: 13 percent Small Conference Calls Are More Popular While we know of some situations where there are large group conference calls, such as company-wide phone meetings or shareholder conference calls, the majority of conference calls are small groups of less than 10 people. How Many People Are Typically on Your Conference Calls? Under 5: 27 percent 5-10: 50 percent 11-25: 16 percent 26-100: 6 percent 100+: 1 percent However, even on small calls (fewer than 10 people), it’s easy to get confused about who’s on the call, who’s joined, and who’s left the call. It happens to 51 percent of us at least some of the time — whoops!

Whether you’re participating in a large or small conference calls, you may continue to experience lack-luster performance without help. While conference call problems are often pushed off as the “fault” of IT, there are ways to combat poor end-user experiences. With an elegantly architected UC system, and a smooth deployment on the perfect network, it will still require 24×7 monitoring and management to ensure that all systems are running as expected.

The equilibrium for voice communications can easily tip due to a host of different issues. Having a proper monitoring and management solution in place can help alert IT teams of an issue – in some cases even before a negative peep is heard from the all-important end-user audience.

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