Improve Work-at-Home Agent Experiences Without Increasing Costs

Working from home is an increasingly popular option, with flexibility and cost advantages for both employers and employees. It offers contact center administrators significant scheduling and cost advantages and provides agents with sought-after quality-of-life benefits. But configuring a home workspace that’s secure and maintains high voice quality—at a reasonable cost—can be a challenge.

Previously, the only option for work-at-home agents was an analog wireline phone that carried the high monthly cost of a business line. VoIP technology removes the need for the wireline connection by piggybacking voice on the data connection. But certain obstacles, including poor voice quality, high costs, and security concerns, have impeded widespread adoption.

Technology to Overcome VoIP Obstacles

Latency, jitter, and packet loss are three major contributors to poor VoIP quality. A high-bandwidth connection isn’t enough because data “traffic jams” at routers cause jitter—and that leads to delays and packet loss. In Quality of Service (QoS) managed network routers, small real-time sensitive voice packets are given precedence over large real-time insensitive data packets.

An unreliable public internet connection also can cause latency, jitter and packet loss that degrades voice quality for “over the top” (OTT) VoIP calls that use standard voice codecs (e.g., G.711 and G.729). However, a new generation of codecs was designed specifically to perform well in this hostile environment.

Eliminate quality issues. Opus is a royalty-free codec from Google that’s standardized by the Internet Engineering Task Force and selected for use with WebRTC. Outperforming all legacy voice codecs, Opus provides voice quality over the unmanaged public internet that was previously attainable only over managed networks. Voice engines that rely on Opus can monitor the network and dynamically adjust parameters in real-time, significantly outperforming standard implementations, even as network impairments increase.

To ensure that enterprise quality standards are met, contact center admins must measure and monitor voice quality. Using a voice engine with built-in monitoring capabilities, such as the One Voice Operations Center solution from AudioCodes, eliminates the need to place additional probes in the network. And that reduces costs and complexity.

With this capability, admins can track work-at-home agents as a separate group, or groups, and filter problematic calls to show co-relationships with other traffic factors, such as interface utilization and time of day.

Alleviate security concerns. TLS and Secure RTP are used for SIP signaling and media, which is more secure than the VPN tunnel because only those two services are permitted. A tunnel, on the other hand, permits any service or connected device. In addition, this offloads the head-end VPN servers from high packet rates associated with VoIP that don’t exist in the data world.

The phone’s SIP messages can carry the private IP from behind the remote router. Therefore, the SBC gets the SIP address/port from the source address of the far-end SIP packets; it then goes to media port information by waiting on the RTP sent by the remote user and using that source information to send media back to the remote router. Then, it forwards the information to the user.

Ease management issues. The SBC provides a reverse proxy that leverages the phone’s authentication and admission procedures to provide a secure connection from the phone to the phone manager in the enterprise LAN. The phone periodically checks in to update the phone manager with its status and to see if the configuration and firmware are up to date.

One Voice Solutions

VoIPerfect from AudioCodes provides over-the-top voice quality that’s comparable to a wireline connection—at a lower cost. And, because the AudioCodes solution doesn’t require a VPN appliance to connect the PC and phone to the enterprise network—a configuration common in traditional work-at-home deployments—companies save additional costs. The solution places the PC on the VPN using a VPN application that’s bundled with the desktop application. While this leaves the phone exposed, the SBC fills in the security, connectivity and management gaps.

One Voice Solutions from AudioCodes unifies components such as phones, gateways, SBCs, and management tools into a synergistic integrated system that delivers the solution-level features and functionality necessary for modern work-at-home agent workspaces.

For more information on One Voice Operations Center solution from Genesys AppFoundry partner AudioCodes, visit their listing in the AppFoundry Marketplace or watch their on-demand webinar session with Genesys.