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Plantronics DA80 USB Audio Processor is an Intelligent Communication Solution

9/25/2015 - 0 Comments
 
With the introduction of the premium DA80 USB audio processor this year, Plantronics has created a product that delivers high-quality audio and contextual intelligence to provide the best possible customer experience out there. It replaces the DA45.

The solid, high-quality DA80 (MSRP $99.00) has intuitive rocker-style buttons with controls for most-used call functions: Answer/End; Volume Up and Down; and Mute – along with indicator lights that alert incoming calls (flashing green); active calls (steady green); and mute (red).

Plantronics Spokes software solutions take the DA80 one step further by revealing insights on CSR and customer communication to contact center managers through the detection and delivery of multiple pieces of intelligence, such as headset disconnections and frequent use of mute control. Several major ACD and CRM systems vendors will be integrating these events into their systems to help manage call center performance.

For example, Plantronics Hub software can automatically lock a CSR’s screen when the headset is disconnected, eliminating a process step and helping with security compliance. Simple incremental improvements like this add up to large overall gains in operational effectiveness, and improved CSR and customer satisfaction.

Now more than ever, customer satisfaction is of utmost importance; concerns must be worked through quickly and effectively. According to research by Lee Resources, 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again. With the prohibitive cost of bringing in new customers – 6 to 7 times more expensive to gain a new customer than to keep a current one (source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs) – it benefits a company to pay attention to its first line defense: the contact center.

Bill Loewenthal, vice president of enterprise solutions at Plantronics told TMCnet.com that “the DA80 is far more than a simple step forward in performance and usability for a USB connection device. It helps our customers provide smarter customer service and impact business outcomes.”

By building the Plantronics DA80 into their softphone strategy, our customers will be on a platform that will provide unprecedented insight into CSR and customer interactions, leading to real business results.”

More great features of the DA80:
    •Superior digital audio helps meet OSHA and Noise at Work regulations
    •Plantronics technology that detects and reports on call events, revealing insights to make operations run more efficiently
    •Downloadable firmware updates and the ability to carry unique serial numbers creating consistent, managed service levels across your center
    •Open APIs add intelligence and inform work flows
    •Unique serial numbers for asset management
    •To train agents, or to include supervisors on calls, a Y-cord can be used with the DA80.

Check out this video that features the compatibility of the DA80 with Customer Interaction Center from Interactive Intelligence:

The DA80 is covered by a two year warranty.

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Jabra LINK 860 Audio Processor Brings New Features to the UC Landscape

9/14/2015 - 0 Comments
 
Jabra’s best just got better with the new Link 860 audio processor, available to purchase now. Similar in appearance and features to its sister amp, the Link 850, the updated Link 860 brings even more functionality.

At first glance, you will notice that Jabra has redesigned and relocated the Desk Phone/Computer switch that was previously found on the bottom of the Link 850 version. They moved the switch to the top of the Link 860, which makes it much more user friendly.

Audio Streaming and Jabra Direct
New to the Link 860, the Audio Streaming feature provides added functionality to your headset, desk phone and PC set-up. Choose features such as Agent Greeting; Call Recording; Transcribing; Call Recording and Agent Greeting; and Call Recording and Transcribing. To enable these features, the switch on the far left that looks like a cassette tape must be turned to “On” and, inside Jabra Direct (a free download here), Device Settings Audio Streaming lists the 5 choices.

For agents who are required to repeat the same greeting or compliance information, the Agent Greeting functionality (playing a sound file from the PC to the desk phone) may be just the ticket to save fatigue and the boredom of repeating the same information on each call, as well as ensuring compliance with company regulations. Both agent and customer can hear the Agent Greeting.

Using 3rd party recording software, such as Windows Sound Recorder or Audacity, the phone forwards audio to the PC for recording. Use the Link 860 and the Transcribing function to play audio files and transcribe them to text. When Transcribing is selected, the PC audio will come over the headset for the agent to hear, but the person on the phone cannot hear this.

To disable these functions, turn the Audio Streaming button OFF.

Other standard features that have been carried over from the previous version include mute, volume control and a dedicated port for supervisory training.

Touch the mute button at the bottom of the Link 860 to mute your microphone; the light in the center immediately turns red, so you have visual notification that your mic is muted. Tap the button again to unmute.

Using the gray dial at the top of the Link 860, adjust speaker volume to the headset. When you turn the ear speaker volume to its lowest level by turning the large gray dial, the Jabra Link 860 beeps; when you turn it up to the highest point, it beeps again; a friendly reminder that minimum/maximum sound levels have been reached. The audial reminder is a nice convenience.

A supervisor port for call assistance is built into the side of the Link 860, similar to the Link 850.

Power is supplied by the micro USB to USB cord that comes in the box with the Link 860; an AC power cord (connecting via the micro USB port) is available as an optional purchase.

The technology and sound protections built into the Link 860 are first class: PeakStop removes line hissing, buzzing and other noises from the network; and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) blocks excessively loud sounds from passing to the ear. Compliance to EU, Australian, and U.S. hearing protection guidelines have been exceeded, so that your ears are safe from sound spikes, acoustic shock and more.

In our tests at Avcomm, using a BIZ 2325 headset and the LINK 860, calls made from the desk phone were crisp and clear; Background noise cancellation was incredible. We’d like to point out that we found the Link 860 to provide much better call quality than when using just a quick disconnect cable. The Link 860 eliminates the majority of background noise, no matter if the caller is speaking or not. Usually when a caller stops talking, customers are able to pick up some of the agent's ambient noise, but this was not the case with the Link 860.

YouTube videos, music streaming at Pandora, and video calls in Vidyo were crystal clear and it was super easy to answer phone calls with the easy switch of the top button on the device.

The Link 860 is ideal for all businesses – using desk phones or softphones – when paired with Jabra quick disconnect (QD) headsets, the Link 860 audio processor is the best solution on the market. Avcomm is offering you a chance to Try it, Love it, and Buy it with a 30-day trial offer at no cost! If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call at 1-866-998-9991.

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A Refresh: Blackwire 315 and 325 Headsets Now Offer Dual Connection

9/2/2015 - 0 Comments
 
The Blackwire headset series from Plantronics has several offerings and price points for any organization deploying Cisco Jabber, Skype for Business, and similar unified communications platforms.

The Blackwire 300 USB headsets are considered to be an entry level standard for USB headsets when deploying softphone solutions. These headsets have a great price point for a high quality headset, and with the recent refresh of the Blackwire 315 and 325 models, a 3.5mm jack now unplugs from the in-line call controller, giving users ultimate flexibility! The Blackwire 315 and 325 connect to PC, mobile phone and tablet.

The lightweight metal headband has super soft, larger leatherette ear cushions that rest lightly on the ear. A longer mic boom with a noise-cancelling microphone keeps the conversation focused on your caller and filters out the background noise. Plantronics’ Dynamic EQ feature automatically adjusts audio for voice or multimedia use. The included zippered soft pouch is a nice touch.

The inline call controller offers simple call management: buttons for answer/end; volume +/-; and mute. Indicator lights on the controller, as well as in-ear audio alerts provide helpful (yet non-obtrusive) status alerts on call, volume and mute.

With Plantronics Spokes software (a free download found here for Windows or here for Mac ), manage calls across a variety of softphones; the headset control panel allows for customized settings such as call notification. The Blackwire 315 and 325 are available in Microsoft variants (certified for Microsoft Lync and Skype for Business). When using either Lync or Skype, UC presence is automatically updated when on a PC call.

MSRP for the mono ear version is $69.95 and the duo ear version is $74.95. There is a 2-year warranty for these headsets.

Offering some great features, plug-and-play functionality and a comfortable, lightweight headset, the Blackwire 300 headsets are a super addition to the UC headset market. We would like to give you a chance to try a Blackwire 315 or 325 headset. With a 30-day money back guarantee, we ensure that you keep only the products that work for you! Contact us now!

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Surviving (and even Thriving) in the Open Office Environment: Tips to Increase Productivity

8/26/2015 - 0 Comments
 
In part 1 of this series about the open office environment, we established that open office work environments are pervasive, distracting and generally not conducive for work that requires concentration – in fact, a Plantronics study found that overall productivity is reduced by 40%.

As the saying goes, “the show must go on” and with deadlines to meet (plus the paycheck associated with the expectation of work being accomplished), here are some tips to help you navigate the environment to your advantage:

  1. Establish expectations of a quiet office environment. Talk to your manager and ask if this policy can be implemented. If there is the expectation that the office will be quiet, conversations will be held at low volumes, and those walking through the environment should be quiet, with prolonged conversations held elsewhere. Reminders of this policy can be in the form of signs that are hung up throughout the entire work space.

  2. Ear plugs. While this may look slightly ridiculous, sometimes it can be the only way to find true quiet, especially if you have no obligation to being on the phone. You can pick up ear plugs at any discount store for very little cost.

  3. Headsets. With the variety of active noise cancelling headsets on the market today, and the “cool” factor that wearers of large headphones are enjoying, wearing a headset can provide a solid audial barrier. Active noise cancelling quiets ambient sounds by creating frequencies that block the noise at your ear. Not all sounds are blocked; overall, they will be significantly reduced.

    Headsets also serve a practical purpose in your business environment because you can answer phone calls with them. The headsets are equipped with noise-cancelling microphones so that your caller will hear you, and not your noisy neighbor who laughs a bit too enthusiastically.

    The Voyager Focus UC from Plantronics is a Bluetooth wireless headset that gives you dual ear coverage, an on/off Active Noise Cancelling switch, and an Open Mic button to tune into the environment when you need to. This headset connects seamlessly across PCs (with the included USB adapter), smartphones, and tablets. When you listen to music (delivered with incredible bass and natural midtones) the Focus UC pauses the music whenever you take the headset off, and resumes play when you put it back on. MSRP is $299.95.

    For a corded headset with Active Noise Cancelling, the Jabra Evolve 80 UC has speakers that are built for style and comfort with large leatherette ear cushions, specifically designed to reduce office noise. When combined with active noise-cancelling technology, you get maximum protection against office noise. A busy-light indicator on the headset signals user availability to colleagues. The Evolve 80 connects via 3.5mm and USB for use with smart phones, tablets, and PCs. MSRP is $329.00.

    Listening to music in your headset can be a great productivity booster. What type of music is best? Studies show that classical music or music without lyrics (such as an Ambient channel on iTunes Radio) can increase productivity, because it provides a mindless distraction. Music with lyrics can be distracting, especially when writing.

    Or, if music just isn't your thing, "white noise" can be a great alternative. The app Noisli (also available to stream at http://www.noisli.com/ provides 16 audio samples of nature, a coffee shop, a fireplace, white noise, and others). There is a special mix for Productivity, available by selecting that choice. Other options include Rainy Mood or Simply Noise. Ultimately, it is an individual preference and something that can be determined through trial and error until you find your concentration zone.

  4. Use busy lights or hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your chair or in your office space. Use this judiciously; it may appear that you are not a team player if your “Do Not Disturb” sign is displayed more often than it isn’t.

  5. Work from home. If this is a possibility, it may be worth looking into; however, a lack of infrastructure at your workplace might not allow for this solution.

  6. Ultimately, we are responsible for how we react in any type of environment. How can we best adapt to this newer concept of open office space? Considering the variety of solutions available to combat open offices, hopefully you’ll find the right solution that helps you along the way. If you have any questions regarding this topic, please reach out to us. We’d love to chat!

    Overcome noise challenges in the open office

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Open Offices Bring Challenges, Rewards

8/11/2015 - 0 Comments
 
Step into any business building today, and you will probably see an open office environment. Typically, phones are ringing, workers are typing, talking on the phone (sometimes on speakerphone!), and talking with each other over their desktops. The space looks busy, productive and efficient.

More than 70 percent of workers in the United States work in these barrier-free environments. Seen as the modern way of doing business (compared to a traditional work place

with offices and doors) the philosophy of an open workplace: to keep co-workers accessible and immediately available, is admirable. The open office “breaks down” the walls of status and division, keeping managers and employees in the same space.

There is a dark side to all of this openness, as open office floor plans have increased turnover and work-related stress, as well as lowered overall productivity (up to 40% as one Plantronics study found). For some workers whose senses stay on high alert all day, it is common to leave the office tired and stressed about not accomplishing daily tasks. Realistically, the open office doesn’t allow for concentration or private conversation.

There are both pros and cons to open offices. Some of the benefits are:
  1. Easily adaptable and expandable
  2. Greater collaboration
  3. Workers appear to be busy
  4. Not as unattractive as cubicle arrangement
  5. Lowered square foot per person: more people in one space, and less real estate cost

On the other hand, the drawbacks include:
  1. Distracting: employees unable to focus
  2. Lack of privacy: Worry of co-workers counting bathroom breaks, overhearing personal phone calls, etc.
  3. Noisy: Plantronics reports that 53 percent of employees say they are disturbed by others when trying to focus
  4. Lack of control over lighting and temperature
  5. Illnesses and germs freely spread
  6. Fortune magazine asserts “age discrimination” in the open office – those age 55 and older seem to flee the business once an open office is implemented

With all of the research – both anecdotal and scientific – available today, some environmental changes can be implemented to meet needs of both the business, and the employees. For example, huddle rooms (for two or more people working in collaboration) with a table and a door are utilized by teams that need to freely discuss projects and other items. For solitary creative work, such as writing, project planning and more, secluded rooms with a door (similar to a traditional office) are a great solution.

Employees themselves are their best managers, as they know which environmental triggers distract them. Is there a time during the day when you need to unplug from the environment, and plug into your thoughts? A great active noise-cancelling headset can be the answer to your problems. Short of moving to a secluded island (which is inconvenient, and of course, offers no wifi connection!) what are some of the ways we can manage our environment, and not let it manage us?

What we have lost in privacy, silence, and the time to think, we have hopefully gained in collaboration; ultimately, however, it is up to each individual to manage themselves within the open office environment. In part 2 of this series, we discuss some solutions to surviving – and even thriving – in the pervasive modern open office environment.

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