Updated: Aug 7, 2020
Legal and financial professionals help their clients deal with sensitive, confidential and highly personal issues, such as estate and succession planning, investments, taxation, business, loans and even family or criminal issues. As a result, clients of the legal and financial sectors carry a strong expectation of privacy and confidentiality into every interaction – and with good reason.
A lack of speech privacy damages client trust in your business – just like what happened to Joe and Frank.
“Joe walked into the Murphy Law Office for his consultation appointment and was greeted by Murphy’s secretary. “Just take a seat” – the secretary motioned towards a row of empty chairs in the waiting area – “he’ll just be a few moments”. There was another gentleman sitting in the corner and two women together across the aisle.
To his surprise, Joe could clearly make out the conversation between the lawyer and another client through Murphy’s office door – he no longer felt comfortable to discuss his case in full earshot of everyone in the waiting room and quickly left.”
“Frank was nearing the end of his retirement and needed to visit the bank to organize his estate & succession plan. Frank didn’t drive anymore, so he asked his daughter Julia to drive him to the local branch. Frank and Julia arrived early and were shown to a quiet waiting room outside the bank manager’s office.
As they waited outside the office, Frank realized that he could hear every detail of the conversation happening within – an older woman was reviewing her investment accounts and setting up a trust fund for her grandchild.
Frank turned to Julia “Let’s go home. I was hoping for a confidential meeting, not to be overheard by anyone who walks into this waiting room during my appointment.”
Not only is speech privacy essential for maintaining the trust of clients, it is also the law. Banks have a legal obligation to protect the sensitive financial information of their clients, and lawyers owe their clients a duty of confidentiality. If your financial or law office still hasn’t taken the necessary steps to improve speech privacy, this white paper outlines the steps you can take to implement sound masking and enhance speech privacy in your financial or law office.
Three Ways to Improve Speech Privacy in Your Office
There are three basic ways of improving the overall level of speech privacy in an office environment, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Absorb the Sound – Specialized soundproof paneling and ceiling tiles can be used to achieve professional quality soundproofing, like the kind used in recording studios. Soundproofing is expensive and can be a safety concern, as it may prevent parties from communicating in case of an emergency.
Block the Sound – Sound can be blocked by introducing barriers like walls or furniture between the source of the sound and potential listeners. This can require heavy contractor work with specialized materials yet is often not totally effective and runs contrary to the modern “open office” concept.
Cover the Sound – Sound masking is a cost-effective technology that can be used to mask human speech within a specified coverage area. Once installed, sound masking systems cost little to maintain and effectively cover up the sound of speech without disrupting the work environment.
How Does Sound Masking Work?
Sound masking systems add background sound to your work environment to help protect speech privacy. The ambient background noise used for sound masking has been specially engineered to match the frequency and pitch of human speech, making conversations within the coverage area significantly more difficult to overhear.
The ambient background noise emitted by indirect sound masking systems blends in with the environment, making it non-disruptive and often entirely unnoticeable. What you will notice are the results: conversation that could normally be overheard from up to 60 feet away will be impossible to overhear unless you’re within 20 feet of the speaker.
The frequency matching technology of sound masking systems makes conversation blend in seamlessly with ambient sound unless the speaker and listener are very close together. That means enhanced speech privacy and no more overheard meetings or private conversations.