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Unified Communications – Service Providers need to excel at managing the customer experience

As the Unified Communications (UC) market matures, more and more businesses are coming to rely on systems like Cisco’s UC suite and Microsoft’s Skype for Business. These UC platforms have replaced traditional automatic telephone switching (PABX) systems to deliver new ways of working for greater employee mobility and enhanced collaboration. However, not all is going well...

Gartner reports that enterprise clients regularly express dissatisfaction with the quality and capabilities of the audioconferencing and videoconferencing functionalities for those using Skype for Business. Whilst this is unsurprising, given the demanding network specifications required to keep quality of experience high, it does present a major opportunity to those network and managed service providers who want to differentiate themselves in the market.

UC solutions are relatively complex compared to what they replace and demand higher performance from networks. As businesses start to depend on them, Service Providers must look at how they both see and share details on the quality of the users’ experience. This means they need to monitor call, video and voice quality not just at technical level but at a business level, to deliver early warning and intervention in the event of quality degradation.

UC platforms automatically collect a rich array of ‘quality of user experience’ metrics. With the addition of continual synthetic monitoring across these platforms, faults can be detected and corrected, even when the UC system is not in use and ideally not when it is under pressure to perform flawlessly. Being able to see the quality of services, clearly and at a glance, is critical in improving customer satisfaction.

It’s important to remember that business-level users will not find the details useful; too much information is both confusing and intimidating. Using tools to distil this data into simple stability, load and health scores and presenting this information in a business-friendly way will allow businesses to see how their UC system is performing. With an ‘easy to understand’ view of what’s going on inside their unified communications platform, they will be able to judge the likely quality of experience before people are using and depending on it. Disruption to an important client call or pre-sales presentation due to poor network quality, can be costly.

Detailed metrics behind these rolled up measurements can show the specifics of the fault. When this same data is shared between the Service Provider and customer, rapid conversations about restoring and improving quality of experience can be prompted and resolved. Discussions can be fact-based, with data to show the quality of experience trends.

For Providers, trends in quality of experience measurements over time can be used to prove UC service quality. Real time quality indicators also assist in pre-deployment scenarios, giving confidence that the roll out of new UC services will be smooth and trouble free.