The contact center space is un- dergoing significant transformation as companies are investing in a variety of technologies to automate and enhance the customer experience. Yet, many organizations are still using outdated and ineffective headsets, and in doing so, they’re jeopardizing their efforts. “You can either optimize technolo- gies such as AI, speech analytics and biometrics through the headset, or you can really mess them up,” said Jabra senior manager of contact center excellence Vern Fernandez. “A very cheap headset that has poor background noise cancellation can negate a lot of important — and ex- pensive — initiatives that ultimately funnel through the headset when a phone call is needed.” Jabra, which launched in 1983, has pivoted to help support and en- able digital transformations. Jabra’s latest series of headsets, Engage, was specially engineered to drive analytics and improve customer satisfaction. The Engage series offers powerful microphones for capturing data and noise cancellation, along with industry- leading wireless performance and den- sity, all-day talk time with an integrated busy light, and even a variety of wear- ing options to suit different work styles. “Jabra isn’t just a peripheral com- pany anymore,” explained Fernandez. “We’re now an analytics provider as well, helping customers take com- mand of the voice of their brands through the headset so that it can be used to cancel noise, eliminate false positives and generate AI to make decisions and drive automation.” The need for premium, noise- cancelling headsets was significantly heightened following the outbreak of COVID-19, as most contact cen- ters transitioned into fully remote environ- ments. Agents are now working from areas that can be noisy and full of dis- tractions, making it harder to capture high-quality data and enable strong customer experiences. “Agents and managers are sud- denly faced with a variety of new challenges that they previously didn’t have to deal with — like barking dogs, children who are being home schooled, nearby construction, and so on. These are all things that com- pete with contact center metrics,” said Fernandez. “External noise can easily seep in and disrupt the cus- tomer experience.” Challenges tend to multiply for managers who typically lack visibility into home environments. For example, consider the issue of agent identity, said Fernandez. “There are cases where managers are not sure if the agent hired is the agent in front of the screen, enabling a family member or friend while the agent runs errands. This can lead to security is- sues, among many other problems.” Jabra’s open platform can integrate with and increase the accuracy of third- party biometrics platforms, providing a pipeline for authentication data. At the same time, managers need to be careful — and informed — when coaching agents and asking them to make changes in their home environ- ments. Jabra’s intelligent headsets can identify spikes in decibels and feed that data into a central repository for processing. Managers can, in turn, use this data to better understand the agent’s times when noise is more likely to occur and approach agents with metrics to back suggestions or claims. This data ultimately can help contact center managers coach and make decisions with greater empathy and understanding, as well as route calls more intelligently. Fernandez explained how working from home is very much a personal issue with agents, who are trying to learn how to work from home and achieve balance in their daily lives. “By using Jabra, a manager might see that an agent’s surroundings are consistently noisy during breakfast, lunch or dinner times, which would make sense in a family household where the agent is working from the kitchen or living room,” said Fernan- dez. “This insight can help managers route calls intelligently to agents in quieter locations. This would require custom development from partners within the contact center community, but Jabra is making the devices to explore new options.” Fernandez also commented on the sales opportunity at hand for part- ners. Moving forward, partners need to convey to customers about the critical enabling role that headsets are playing in CX. “The headset is now very much a part of enterprise architecture,” said Fernandez. “Without a premium, noise-cancelling and intelligent head- set, contact centers will have a much harder time accomplishing their goals. And at the same time, next- gen headsets are enabling contact centers to do things that were never before possible.” In many ways, Jabra is flipping the script on how decision makers view headsets. And from an agent’s perspective, this is a very powerful selling feature. Customer service agents can concentrate on solving problems during the conversation versus struggle to hear the conversa- tion or be heard. “We’re unraveling 60-plus years of what people think a headset should be and do,” said Fernandez. o Redefining Agent Headsets Jabra’s Vern Fernandez 2021 Directory | CHANNEL VISION 55 PROFILE How Jabra’s intelligent headsets are driving automation and improving CX