How sound quality can make or break your customer experience

Poor audio clarity is the silent killer of positive customer interactions. But SMEs can increase their competitive advantage by improving their sound systems.

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In today’s extremely competitive market, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have little choice but to look for ways to stand out. As business communications are more digital first, clear audio is a critical but often overlooked factor for success in many areas of businesses. 

As we work more and more in hybrid  environments – with team meetings, training, private conversations, customer feedback taking place digitally – the way we process information has shifted primarily from visual to audio. The days of the traditional office landline may be numbered, but by improving audio quality in digital business communications, SMEs can improve employee and customer experiences ahead of their larger competition. 

A sound investment

As 81% of UK SMEs offer hybrid and remote working options, audio has become vital to allow workforces to collaborate, communicate and succeed efficiently and effectively. 

The way that larger and smaller businesses use audio is the same. Across the board, more interactions are happening virtually and for the most important and sensitive conversations, a phone call is often still the communication of choice for workers of all ages. If audio quality is poor, with background noise getting in the way of conversations, this can extend the amount of time taken for a call or worse add to misinterpretation or misinformation. 

Because smaller businesses run on a much leaner business model than their larger counterparts, efficiency and return on investment is key. Time wasted through mishearing and poor audio quality can quickly equate to a serious impact on profits, especially if calculated across an entire business. 

In addition to the boost in efficiency, audio can also have an impact on staff mental health. This is because prolonged exposure to noise can cause issues such as poor sleep, cognitive impairment and increased stress. This hugely damages staff productivity, can increase absences and cause employee engagement to deteriorate, leading to talent retention issues.

Standing out in a noisy crowd

When it comes to a business’ customers, audio is equally critical for building and maintaining relationships. 

Customers, like employees, often prefer to pick up the phone when there is an issue which is complex or time sensitive or has financial implications. This means that speed, efficiency and accuracy is vital, with clear audio supporting positive customer experience and building stronger brand loyalty. 

Customers are often paying a premium to use SME services, the alternative – bad audio and longer wait times because of mishearing – risks customers going for the cheaper option with larger businesses. This is particularly true for Gen Z customers, with one third taking their businesses elsewhere after just one negative interaction. 

The SME advantage

Although smaller business leaders are acutely aware of the challenges they face, it can be easy to overlook the inherent advantages of their business size. Unlike larger businesses, which are often hindered by processes, entrenched technologies and siloed teams, an SME can move more quickly to take advantage of new technologies like audio optimisation.

SMEs also win customers with the ‘personal touch’. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 59% of consumers opted for smaller, more local businesses. However, a few years down the line, these businesses must work hard to retain these customers, by providing outstanding, customised service. 

Innovation for survival

Going into 2024, SME leaders will be flooded with offers and solutions to upgrade their business operations. These solutions may be difficult to implement, costly and carry varying degrees of success. To get the most from an investment, business leaders should look at fundamentals within their business and how they can drive success. As a critical tool in a forward-looking business, audio should no longer be overlooked. 

Jacobi Anstruther - IRIS Audio Technologies CEO & Founder
Jacobi Anstruther - IRIS Audio Technologies CEO & Founder

IRIS Founder and CEO, Jacobi Anstruther, is an audio entrepreneur and one of the music industry’s leading innovators. Over the last decade, he has made it his mission to reinvent the way we interact with sound, putting the listener at the heart of the audio experience. On founding IRIS in 2018, Jacobi’s objective was to reconnect humans and audio through scientifically-proven technology. Using decades of research into the science of sound, IRIS’ patented products have been proven to improve focus, engagement, and wellbeing by stimulating our neurology and creating Active Listening™.

IRIS Audio
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