Today’s consumers are fortunate to have many different avenues to contact businesses: via mail; social media; chat, email; and of course, by phone. Companies are expected to provide stellar customer service in an efficient, expert manner and every communication with the customer provides the opportunity to build relationships, provide excellent customer service, and promote your brand and its message. No pressure, right?
In a webinar hosted by Plantronics, Neil Hooper from Plantronics stated, “100 percent of customer interactions will be in the public domain (due to social media).” If you are not providing an awesome experience to your customers, this is a terrifying thought!
A key component to exceptional customer care is acoustics in your contact center. Colin Rawlings, the Tech Director of Acoustics by Design in the United Kingdom, shared some valuable information about good acoustics in your contact center. Background noise costs money. Simply put, when you provide a quiet and professional work environment where background noise is managed:
Stress is reduced
Absenteeism is reduced
Errors are reduced
Misunderstandings are reduced
Also: staff retention, call quality, productivity and customer satisfaction are improved.
To improve acoustics in your contact center, Rawlings suggests the ABC principle:
A – Absorb noise close to the source – the use of sound panels, wall panels, and freestanding office screens will provide noise absorption.
B – Block the direct path of sound – this can be accomplished by computer screens, desks and walls.
C – Cover/mask unwanted sounds –pipe in soothing water sounds, or electronic white noise.
And, a 4th item:
D- Discipline – correct microphone placement is critical: 2 finger width’s away from the mouth is ideal.
Other things to consider:
Replace the voice tube regularly (they do get blocked) or, even better, use headsets with noise-cancelling microphones.
Replace the ear cushions on the headsets regularly. With regular use, the cushions can be broken down and can be uncomfortable.
Put these principles into play in your contact center and see if they are the differencemakers with your customers. Let us know if you have any additional ideas for good acoustics at your organization!
With the new year quickly approaching, Plantronics has informed us of the latest list of end of life product in 2016. If you see some of your favorite headsets on this list that are being discontinued, act quickly to purchase now before stock runs out! The EncorePro series is the suggested replacement for the headsets on the list; the DA70 and DA80 are the recommended replacements for the adapters on the list.
The 10 variants of the Sennheiser Circle series have been upgraded with new features, and with its proven functionality, makes the Circle series a superior option in the contact center and office workspace. A Red Dot design award winner in 2012, the Circle series has gotten even better with these premium new features. Often relied upon as the standard contact center headset, the series is offered in both USB and QD versions for maximum compatibility with phone systems and softphones.
The Circle Flex dual hinge ear cups now come with soft leatherette ear pads covering acoustic foam. These ear cups ensure a closer ear fit, all-day wearing comfort and optimized sound quality.
Another upgrade to the USB headsets in the series is the inline call controllers. The new sleek design makes them more ergonomic and easier to use. The controllers allow you to answer/end calls; adjust volume up and down; mute the mic; redial the last outgoing call and reject an incoming call. Check out the USB CTRL II headsets here, in both UC and Microsoft variants: SC 230 USB CTRL II, SC 260 USB CTRL II, SC 230 USB MS II and SC 260 USB MS II.
Kudos to Sennheiser for including a nylon carrying pouch with each headset! This saves a few dollars, as well as wear and tear on your headset when it’s not in use. Transport the headset to another work location, or when you’re traveling, and you don’t have to worry about the headset cords, ear cushions, or microphone boom being destroyed in your laptop bag!
The lightweight, metal-reinforced headbands allow you to adjust the headband for a personalized fit. Noise-cancelling microphones cancel the background noise so your caller hears you, and not the background surrounding you.
Customer input was relied upon in these latest upgrades, according to Lars Riis Rasmussen, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, EMEA, at Sennheiser Communications.
“Over the past few years, our Circle series headsets have become a popular and valued all-day working tool in many contact centers, office, and Unified Communications environments,” says Rasmussen. “We have used customer feedback to further improve the product range.”
Videoconferencing continues to gain popularity; Ovum predicts that the global market for videoconferencing will hit nearly $3.6 billion in 2016. This is not merely a fad; last year, the world made 1.8 billion hours’ worth of Skype calls (according to Microsoft). The benefits of face-to-face interaction, compared with a phone-only conference call, cannot be understated. It has been proven that videoconferencing is a more productive medium and attendees feel more of a connection to each other; collaboration is thereby ramped up and time spent in a meeting more productive. Travel costs are also lowered, which is a big budget boost.
With all of the positives to videoconferencing, there are still glitches: quite possibly the biggest villain in the battle of effective collaboration is the human component. Being able to easily use the equipment can be one of the leading deterrents to ruling the world of videoconferencing.
The animated movie “Penguins of Madagascar” (2014, Dreamworks Animation) highlighted a very relatable and common videoconferencing scenario: there is picture, but no sound. In this case, Dave, the villainous octopus, hacks into the good guys’ Skype-like system … however, his threats lose their effect when he can’t use the technology correctly:
“Can you hear me? Can you see me?” he asks, after he figures out how to turn on the microphone volume. The rest of the call will make you laugh, as we’ve all experienced meetings that don’t go as planned:
KAPOW! ZOWIE! BAM!
The best way to combat this villain is to provide conferencing equipment that is easy to install, use, update and maintain. A straightforward, simple to use speakerphone from Jabra, the new Speak 810, can be the perfect solution and hero for many organizations using USB connection to their videoconferencing system. The 3.5mm jack cable offers another option: with your smartphone or tablet too! With plug and play connectivity, the Speak 810 is a unit with crystal clear sound and ZoomTalk microphones for picking up the human voice.
Designed for conference rooms of up to 15 people, echoes, background noise, and any distortions are filtered out with Digital Signal Processing. With Jabra Direct, firmware updates are automatically pushed out to your device as they are available, ensuring your Speak 810 is ready when you are. Easy-to-use touch buttons that light up, along the top of the Speak 810, take the guesswork out of collaboration. It’s all of the conference call capabilities you need, without the complexity. MSRP for the Speak 810 is well-priced at $599. For more information about the Speak 810, read our review here.
Other common videoconferencing villains:
Poor sound (echoes, distracting noises, unable to hear participants due to the wrong equipment being used)
High set-up costs
Video clarity (video conferencing uses more bandwidth; picture quality can be poor and buffering may occur.)
No one wants to deal with a “Dave the Octopus” when it comes to technology. In the 2015 Knowledge Worker study, Jabra & Lindberg found that, on average, 15 percent of the time during an hour-long meeting is wasted. Since we spend 18 days each year (on average) in meetings, those 15 minutes add up in a hurry! If you’re ready to gain back wasted time, and learn more about the Speak 810, give us a call. We’re happy to help!
Jabra PC Suite has been the gold standard of device management software for the manufacturer. In April, Jabra made the best even better and upgraded to the new Jabra Direct. This FREE software enables you to personalize your Jabra device; firmware-update your device for the best possible performance; and to have Remote Call Control over your softphone(s). Jabra Direct supports all Jabra USB devices and offers softphone compatibility for most platforms including Avaya, Cisco, ShoreTel and Skype.
Jabra Direct features a new user interface with simple design, improved for touchscreen usage (for tablets and smart phones). Status and readiness information are available via the new Direct dashboard, displaying the headset and softphone are ready for your next call.
Jabra Direct will “remember” devices that you no longer have connected to PC. The devices are “grayed out,” yet available, should you once again connect the device.
Jabra Suite for Mac Also available is Jabra Suite for Mac, free software that enables Jabra USB audio devices to have Remote Call Control over the latest generation of softphones for Mac*. Jabra Suite for Mac supports the following Mac OS versions: 10.9.x (Mavericks), 10.10.x (Yosemite) and 10.11.x (El Capitan).
The software allows the user to hear ring tones; answer and end calls; mute the microphone; place and resume call on hold; redial directly from the Jabra audio device; and manage Bluetooth connections. Jabra Suite for Mac also checks for available Jabra device firmware updates and then offers to easily upgrade the attached devices for optimal performance.
Jabra Suite for Mac can interface with a range of softphone standards via the embedded drivers. The program runs in the background and monitors your USB ports for the connected Jabra device(s) and installed softphone(s) – and enables the Jabra device(s) to have remote call control over the softphone(s).
If new software to improve your Jabra device (called “firmware”) is available, Jabra Suite for Mac’s Firmware Updater will offer you to easily update your connected Jabra device.
Jabra discontinued support for PC Suite this month, and recommends updating your Jabra software to the new Jabra Direct immediately. Please reach out to us with any questions you have about this update, and let us know if you need any assistance!
*Avaya one-X Communicator, version 2.0 or above; CounterPath Bria, version 4.2.0 or above; IBM Sametime, version 8.5.2; 9.0 or above and Embedded IBM Sametime installed in Lotus Notes 9.0; Skype, version 22.214.171.1245 or above