Landline or Cellphone: Trouble Hearing or Being Heard

The audio experience, both hearing our contacts and being heard when speaking to them, is critical to your callers and your program. Issues with audio range from user error, to hardware or equipment troubles, to large scale infrastructure causes need to be corrected quickly, and to best deal with this wide range, we offer this summary for trouble hearing or being heard when calling in from a landline or cell phone.

Troubleshooting the Cause

This range of issues will fall into one of these categories: 

Headset or other Accessory Complications

Phone accessories such as earbuds with built-in microphones, full headsets, or AirPods, are fantastic for improving the caller experience by allowing them to keep hands free and eliminating neck strain and arm fatigue from holding the phone upwards for extended periods of time. We highly recommend using them.

It may seem obvious, but oftentimes the devices may not be securely, firmly connected. In other instances, the devices may simply have failed since the last time they were used - as many are flimsy, and all are built with intentional product obsolescence and therefore short life spans.

Try these troubleshooting steps among your very first efforts:

  • Try making a direct person to person call from the phone without any accessories connected
  • Try the call again with the accessory connected.  Can you hear and be heard during your test calls with and without the accessories?
  • If the device is Bluetooth based, confirm that Bluetooth is active and that the devices are recognizing each other
  • Check all physical connected devices and adapters for firm, solid, connection

Device Settings

Device settings for phones are simple to check and confirm. There is no customizable microphone sensitivity or microphone volume similar to what exists with computer devices. 

Note: If you are concerned about being heard, try a call directly to a friend. Can they hear you adequately in your test?

Check through these simple troubleshooting tips regarding concerns about a phone's microphone:

  • WiFi Calling / Call over WiFi: On android phones is the "Wifi Calling" option turned on? For iPhones, is the "Make Calls Using Wifi" option on in the settings menu? Make sure these settings are OFF. 
    • Device makers and providers have begun sending devices out with this setting on by default.  Always turn off WiFi Calling / Call over WiFi as our testing has shown it causes issues with both being heard and hearing recipients while connected to the system.  Additionally, if the available internet bandwidth is low, WiFI calling will eat up critical bandwidth, causing issues with scripts and on-screen interactions
  • Specific to issues being heard:
    • Any chance the microphone is muted? This can happen accidentally, and quite easily! Make sure to un-mute!
    • Are you in a noisy environment? Or possibly in a room where sound does not carry well? Try moving to another physical location with less noise or better acoustics.
    • If all else fails, try a different phone - your device's microphone may have an issue and need repair.
  • Specific to issues hearing:
    • Using Bluetooth: Is this turned on? Are the devices recognizing each other? Are the correct devices paired - and not accidentally paired to a different device?
    • In-call volume: Phones maintain two different volume settings, one for media and alerts, and another for in-call audio volume.  Has the in-call volume level been turned down by accident? Check device settings for certainty and correct as needed.

Bad Reception or Inconsistent Phone Service

In the same way that issues with being heard happen when calling person to person, on any device when the reception is low or inconsistent one may experience issues with not hearing or not being heard by the recipient. To better explain, here is an outline of how calls are connected:

  • If calling from a landline, the caller dials in to be connected to our system over that landline.  If calling from a cell phone, the caller is connecting to our system through cellular networks.  In either case, this is known as the "agent leg" of the call.
  • The system that callers connect to should be thought of as an operator - a very, very busy operator connecting many, many calls.  Essentially our system functions just like an operator - and your list are the people that operator is connecting your callers to.
  • The outbound calls to people on your list are then traveling across actual landlines or actual cellular networks just like the "agent leg" of the call.  Therefore, the recipients of these calls are just as susceptible to bad connections and inconsistent service quality just like the half of the call for the agent to connect to our system.

Infrastructure issues, outages and other concerns

With the power of our calling tools, we are often calling ranges of geographies at different times- people living in cities, exurban areas, and in rural communities.  We may be calling entire states in many instances, and therefore be reaching contacts living in any potential type of community at the same time.  Keep in mind that issues at the infrastructure level stand out more at the pace and volume of calling we can produce. When we are calling from phone to phone directly, we have all at some point experienced a bad connection, a misconnection where we talk to someone at a number other than the one we dialed, or echoes on the line. We encounter these in the same percentages of likelihood with our dialer, but they can appear to be more common simply due to the volume of calls - even though those instances are just as rare as calling directly phone to phone. Here are some further details:

  • It can be worthwhile to take note of calls that connect where it is hard for callers to hear the recipient - whether that is from static on the line, or a bad connection caused by local infrastructure or outages.  Analyzing trends can help soothe caller concerns or help shape strategy for avoiding geographies that consistently produce problematic connections
  • Hearing echoes on a line can be a result of two things: a bad connection due to infrastructure issues, or simply that the other person has hung up prior to speaking with the caller.  It is very common to hear an echo of oneself when one speaks on a dialer line that is no longer connected to the contact
  • Reaching people who report that the number dialed is not the number connected does happen in exceedingly rare cases.  If you are concerned about these instances, note the phone number dialed from the dialer screen (on the left side), as well as the number the contact reported that actually connected, and then visit with our live chat agents for a quick check on what numbers were or were not dialed and precisely when those calls were placed 

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