It’s worse than hold music. Worse than “Please wait for the next available agent.” Worse than being told no one can help them, that the product or service is not available, or that its price has gone up.
If customers can’t hear — or make themselves heard — nothing happens. Deals don’t get done. Orders aren’t placed. Relationships suffer because customers become irritated, then exasperated, that a company they’re dealing with hasn’t mastered one of the oldest forms of communication. It sends a message that they’re not dealing with a viable entity, and undermines whatever efforts they might make to reach customers via e-mail, Web sites, social media or other channels. This, more than any other reason, should be what drives adoption of SIP trunking beyond the enterprise in 2014.
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More than 10 years since voice-over-IP became available, it’s actually surprising that call quality hasn’t become an IT metric that ranks with the security of data, for example, or the availability of server infrastructure. Perhaps it’s because we’re forgiving of new technologies that seem to offer trade-off benefits, like lower costs or the ability to work while mobile. That kind of tolerance doesn’t last, unfortunately. Just as app developers are learning that consumers have no patience for anything that fails to launch, businesses of all sizes will soon discover customers who can’t reach a company instantly (and clearly) will opt for a competitor with whom they can more easily connect.
For a long time companies may have felt they couldn’t meet those kind of expectations because it either seemed like too much trouble or the risks were too high. Neither of those things are true anymore. You don’t have to replace legacy PBX systems or phones to get the benefits of SIP trunking. With Class of Service (CoS) routing on both MPLS and Internet access, voice calls are prioritized above less time sensitive web and data traffic, so a spike in Internet use isn’t going to cause call problems.
There aren’t really any excuses for jitter, latency or dropped packets anymore. Consumers may never come to recognize the term SIP trunking or understand how it works, but they’ll know the difference between a company that’s ready to do business and one that isn’t. Those running a business, on the other hand, may also realize that SIP trunking’s call redirection capabilities give them the Plan B they need in the event of an emergency.
The power of technology, of course, is that it can give firms of any size the ability to compete on a more level playing field. The best companies have come to recognize, however, that making good use of technology means treating all possible customer, supplier and partner touch points as equally vital. In IT departments they call it “mission-critical.” No matter how mobile, social or Web-based the world becomes, the human voice remains a touch point that matters. It’s time more organizations give it the attention it deserves.