One of the most frequent questions we get about the new Skype for Business is, “What’s this ‘How was the call quality?’ box that keeps popping up?”
That’s the Rate My Call window. It’s a method for Skype for Business to collect & analyze call data. After a call, users are shown a small prompt asking them to rate their call’s quality using stars and some checkboxes. It looks like this.
The user checks a box if there was an audio issue (they heard a weird background noise, for instance), and selects how many stars they rate the call’s quality out of 5. There are also options for video issues too, if you used video on your call.
A pretty standard rating system. Rate My Call then records the data in 2 tables in the Monitoring database.
- [QoeMetrics].[dbo].[CallQualityFeedbackToken] – Results of token polling by users
- [QoeMetrics].[dbo].[CallQualityFeedbackTokenDef] – Token definitions
Because of the data storage & back-end requirements, Rate My Call is limited to on-premise deployments (sorry Skype for Business Online users!).
How to Configure Rate My Call
Rate My Call is enabled by default in on-premise Skype for Business. It’s set to display the Rate My Call window 10% of the time.
You do have the option of adding “Custom User Feedback” – inserting a field for extra feedback – but this is disabled by default. If you want to enable Customer User Feedback, just use this cmdlet.
Set-CSClientPolicy -Identity [PolicyIdentity] -RateMyCallAllowCustomUserFeedback $true
Additionally, you can change the percentage for displaying the Rate My Call window with the same cmdlet. This example would change the percentage from 10% to 50%.
Set-CSClientPolicy -Identity [PolicyIdentity] -RateMyCallDisplayPercentage 50
(I don’t recommend bugging users that much though. No more than 25% of the time would be my suggestion.)
How to Access Rate My Call Data
You can access the data through SQL queries, and the Call Quality Dashboard.
Example SQL queries are listed at the bottom of this page: Rate my Call in Skype for Business Server – TechNet
Of course, you can write your own queries too. Or you can set up the Call Quality Dashboard for a more visual reference.
Fair warning: Deploying Call Quality Dashboard is a lot of work. You need SQL Server, IIS, SQL Analysis Server, a pre-existing QoE Metrics database, and a fair bit of configuration. Here’s a deployment guide: Deploy Call Quality Dashboard for Skype for Business Server 2015 – TechNet
Once Call Quality Dashboard is deployed & configured, you can access it at: http://[SERVERNAME]/CQD
Is it worth it? Enterprises will think so. Like most Monitoring Server Reports, the Call Quality Dashboard gives you detail-rich QoE (Quality of Experience) reports. Do users in Sales report that audio quality’s poor? You’ll see this in one of the created-by-default reports. Does the Front Desk report call echo (…echo…echo…)? It’s in the report. And of course you can create your own QoE reports too.
More help with using CQD Reports: Use Call Quality Dashboard for Skype for Business Server 2015 – TechNet
Using Rate My Call: The Biggest Value
Now, the big question: What’s the big value in Rate My Call? Why did Microsoft include it in Skype for Business?
My opinion – Rate My Call is a way to crowd-source your network maintenance.
Think about this. Audio/video calls use a lot of bandwidth – which means they’re very sensitive to network issues. If their quality drops, it means something’s not working well enough. You can treat this like an “early warning system” for network problems.
If you have a large number of users voting about how good/bad their call quality is, you’re able to collect a large aggregate of data. Big Data for your office’s calls. You examine this data, and find places where there’s a weak link.
That weak link might be a configuration problem. It might be a bad Ethernet cable. It might be a dying router. No matter the cause, you know something’s up. So you fix it now, restore call quality, and avoid the potential for more serious failure later.
If you’re installing Skype for Business Server, let me recommend an “introductory period” for Rate My Call.
- Use the PowerShell cmdlet above to alter Rate My Call’s display percentage to 25%.
- Notify all users of Rate My Call’s existence, and ask them to rate all their calls (including video!).
- Continue tracking at 25% for 2 weeks.
- Reset display percentage to 10%.
- Examine the QoE reports for this period, using whichever method you prefer. If you see low quality measurements, you know where you have to check.
Do you plan to use Rate My Call? If so, please comment or email with your thoughts & what kind of environment you have. I’d like to hear what quality elements people are tracking.
And join us again next week!