Plantronics - Thinking out of the Headset
Jan 25, 2017
We talk a lot about intelligent personal assistants, but what about headsets? Yes. Headsets. Headsets may be old school, but they have been vastly improved over the years, are crucial to the agent and Customer Experience, and are poised to make both the agent and Customer Experience even better, not to mention day to day office communications.
Plantronics is one vendor in this space that has done a lot to address the knotty issues that plague the use of audio devices in the contact center and general work environments. Are devices being used properly or at all? Are they doing their job properly? Are workers being exposed to long-term unacceptable noise levels? These are just a few of many questions around issues the company set off solve several years ago. Since then Plantronics has been on a multi-year adventure of creating software and services that complement the use of these devices to make communication better, and to get the most out of their customer’s investment.
To recap, Plantronics provides traditional hardware headset and audio conferencing components, including wired and wireless options. But it also provides software and analytics to improve the functioning of its products. As detailed in Frost & Sullivan’s 2016 Cloud Contact Center Buyers Guide, “Plantronics expanded its product portfolio with Plantronics Manager Pro v3.8 with Asset Analysis. This was a very different direction for Plantronics, as it is not a headset but rather a software subscription service that further complements the company’s contact center portfolio of headsets and digital processors. Managing headsets within a contact center has been a long-standing industry problem, and Plantronics is the first in the industry to come up with a working solution. Plantronics Manager Pro with Asset Analysis not only identifies which headsets, and how many, have been deployed, but it can also look into those devices to ensure they’re deployed with consistent configurations, firmware and settings. By doing this, Plantronics helps ensure a consistently high quality of voice across an organization which results in an improved customer experience, not to mention making ITs job much easier.”
The three main components of this offering are:
- Plantronics Manager Pro – a system level solution that increases the intelligence of the headsets to deliver insights into the contact center and business collaboration. It allows IT to simplify headset adoption, as well as troubleshoot and respond to individual user needs. Plantronics Manager Pro is also available as a managed service through select Plantronics channel partners.
- Plantronics Manager - a cloud-based client/server headset management application that enables customers to easily deploy and manage Plantronics audio devices. The application also stores usage data in an on-premises application infrastructure.
- Plantronics Hub - aclient application that allows end users to control the settings on their Plantronics audio device to customize their ringtone and ring location, configure presence updates and other functions. Hub also acts as the cloud relay for Manager Pro.
Plantronics Manager Pro 3.9 takes this to a whole new level with the addition of acoustic and conversation analytics. This new suite helps managers monitor, manage, and maintain audio endpoints for usage and call quality. It also enables managers to gain insights into compliance, usage trends and other factors that can impact business.
A critical example of the need to have strong acoustic analytics is the need to understand if the devices are working properly or not. If not, workers can experience poor collaboration experiences, customers may have poor audio quality issues with agents degrading their customer service experience, and worse case, workers/agents can be exposed to excessive and even dangerous noise levels. Device level analytics allow for protection against this, which ensures that agents/workers have a better working experience.
Plantronics Manager Pro analytics measures usage dynamics, and safeguards users against sudden changes in audio by adjusting for it. For instance, if there is a loud noise on the line, the application will the audio to an acceptable level, or if during the day a worker is in a place with a lot of noise in the background, it will reduce the noise so there is an acceptable level throughout the day, or conversely increase to adjust for poor quality mobile coverage. These new analytics capabilities also allow managers to see if the devices are in compliance with federal regulations for health and safety, particularly in regions that have policies in place to protect worker hearing.
As for the contact center manager, new conversational analytics provides insights into the Customer Experience. Managers can run usage statistics that show how the devices are being used, such as the number of times or length of time an agent puts a call on mute, which might indicate the need for training, for example. The reports also provide valuable information on customer/agent interactions. For instance, it can identify details such as the ratio of agent versus customer speech, and the amounts of silence or talk-over.
Plantronics has been going down an evolutionary path to improve the entire working of business, and in particular, customer contact, by thinking out of the box as to what having millions of little points of presence can do with the addition of software, firmware, and analytics. Just as important is allowing the regular business user to get the benefit of the data without having to rely on IT, and let them easily manage the provisioning of equipment as well. These improvements, with many more on the product roadmap, is allowing Plantronics to vastly improve their customer’s investment in something that used to be taken for granted.
Nancy Jamison is a Principal Analyst within Customer Contact within the Digital Transformation group at Frost & Sullivan. She covers all aspects of customer contact including cloud and premise-based systems and applications in the core areas of inbound/outbound routing, IVR, Workforce Optimization, and recording and analytics, with a particular focus on peripheral and emerging areas that impact the Customer Experience. These include speech technologies, omni-channel customer care, Big Data, digital marketing, Back Office Workforce Optimization, and Support Interaction Optimization.