2 October 2014

New Plantronics headsets address need for high quality audio, safety concerns

Plantronics has announced a new family of headset solutions designed for customer service centres and offices. 
Source: Plantronics. The EncorePro 500 family.

According to the company, customer service centres face new challenges with the trend towards using smartphones and self-service. Customers who call customer service representatives (CSRs) with a problem have likely already tried self-service and may even have much more information than the agent. A call has become an escalation that puts more pressure on the CSR to perform, even though the customer is more often than not speaking in a mobile environment with questionable audio quality.

Businesses are also using over-the-phone routes for complex, high-value transactions, where CSRs must work with high-quality audio and yet preserve the confidentiality of customer information.

The Plantronics EncorePro 500 Series is designed for such challenges. It features new materials and technologies that yield an ergonomic fit that is durable, lightweight, and comfortable for all-day wearing. The noise-cancelling technology ensures more focused and private calls, so conversations will be heard clearly with fewer misunderstood words and with reduced background noise from keyboards and close talkers.

There are different designs to suit user preferences: EncorePro 510/520 are dedicated over-the-head models; the EncorePro 530 fits over the ear, while the EncorePro 540 is a convertible model that delivers the same quality of audio no matter what the preferred wearing style is. All models support wideband audio.

Also new are the DA Series of USB digital audio processors for Plantronics headsets, which provide context for every call. The new digital audio processors are designed to connect Plantronics 'quick disconnect' headsets to computers through a USB port. Some incorporate user controls like the ability to answer a call, mute the call and adjust volume. All support Noise @ Work, based on Plantronics SoundGuard digital technology. Not only are CSRs protected from sounds above 118 dBA, but anti-startle protection detects and eliminates a sudden increase in sound. Time Weighted Average (TWA) measurements manage average daily sound exposure for CSRs.

Each device contains firmware that can generate notifications based on hardware state changes. Some models can also generate notifications based on acoustic events or other telemetry that is important to the customer service centre, but which had been previously unavailable. For example, the Plantronics DA-90 will offer acoustic event logging so that customers can be compliant with initiatives like Australia's G.616 recommendation. These events are exposed through APIs within the Plantronics Spokes suite of software solutions.

The combination of the Plantronics EncorePro 500 Series, Plantronics digital audio adapters, and Plantronics Hub means that events and metrics occurring during the interaction with the customer are actionable. This makes possible new activities such as the automation of agent status updates, screen-locking for security when a headset is disconnected, dashboard management of headset
inventory and warranty status, tracking of agent use of physical call controls and supervisor alerts to conversational conflict between agent and caller. 

"This launch covers everyone - usability and personal comfort for the agent, agent monitoring of events, ordering, budgeting, and inventory tracking for the supervisor. Particularly intriguing is the enablement of event tracking for things such as agent status when the headset is disconnected allowing for actions to occur such as screen locking," said Nancy Jamison, Principal Analyst in Customer Contact, Frost & Sullivan.

"We are building on the world's most successful professional grade headset, the SupraPlus, and this is a challenge we did not take lightly. Our deep understanding of the new business needs and role of customer service, and the availability of new materials, design philosophies, manufacturing techniques and core technologies resulted in a new portfolio that is not only state-of-the-art by today's standards, but also future-proofed to adapt as the landscape changes," said Bill Loewenthal, VP, Enterprise Communications Solutions, Plantronics. 

"It's no longer just about a first-class audio experience. With our new portfolio, organisations will immediately see the value that we bring by providing equipment and intelligence which enable operations to be more effective, and create a positive experience for both the CSR and the customer."

The new EncorePro 540 (convertible) and Encore 530 (over-the-ear) models are immediately available. The EncorePro 510/520 (dedicated over-the-head monaural and binaural models) will be available in both noise-cancelling and voice tube* versions in December. The DA-80 USB Digital Audio Processor will ship in December with additional models following a short time later. 

Visit www.plantronics.com/contactcenter for information and pricing. View the associated video here.

*Voice tubes transfer sound more clearly across a distance.