AJA have undertaken a variety of acoustic assessments at UK call centres for Vodafone UK Technology Enterprise Services (formerly Cable and Wireless) since 2009. These have included call centres for Centrica, Aviva and AXA.
The principal acoustic challenge faced in call centres is high noise levels, usually as a result of dense population, reverberant conditions and inadequate acoustic screening between desks. While ambient noise levels are not usually high enough to give rise to hearing damage, telephone headsets and handsets, particularly older narrowband systems, require a high signal-to-noise ratio for good intelligibility (much higher than is typically needed for acoustic speech). In noisy call centres, this can lead to agents turning up the audio on their telephone headsets to damaging levels. High ambient noise levels can also impact on the quality of audio that the customer hears at the other end of the line.
Our assessments have included measuring ambient noise levels in use, advising on control of reverberation and improvement of screening between desks. Most recently, we have undertaken before and after measurements of telephone headset audio for the Centrica T6 Transformation Programme at more than a dozen call centres throughout the UK. Telephone audio measurements were taken side-by-side with agents on live calls using a compact artificial ear rig. In comparison to larger and more cumbersome head and torso simulators (HATS), this allowed us to work quickly with minimal disruption to working agents. We reported on changes in audio spectrum reproduction, acoustic signal-to-noise ratio and intelligibility between the new and old systems and advised on compliance with Noise at Work Regulations for agents.
Client : Vodafone TES UK