“Heat Mapping” Noisy Offices Is Reality with New Digital Headsets

The humble headset is undergoing a radical transformation – from mere communications device to powerful source of data with the potential to transform the workplace.

Several months ago, we discussed the concept called heat mapping. The idea is to observe where employees typically congregate to determine whether the physical work environment is organized as efficiently as possible – and reconfigure the space if it isn’t.

Heat mapping is important because, ever since the walls came down and the office spaces opened up, organizations have struggled to make the workplace a productive environment.

They’ve tried everything – sound-absorbing materials, dedicated quiet areas, codes of conduct, even lots of leafy foliage. Despite their efforts, the open office space remains the place employees love to hate.

Help may finally be on the way – and from a relatively unlikely source: Headsets.

That’s right. Headsets. And I’m not just referring to noise-canceling features that erase the din of chatty coworkers and overworked printers. No, I’m talking about powerful intelligence that organizations can use to create a more productive, efficient and quiet work environment.

The Latest Digital Smart Device

Beneath their utilitarian exteriors, new-generation headsets are in fact digital smart devices, packed with sophisticated digitalization that enable them to capture a treasure trove of previously untapped data such as background sound levels.

With the growing pace with which phone conversations and virtual meetings are getting digitalized by UC solutions like Skype and Skype for Business, headsets have become powerful tools in the modern workplace. Their advanced microphone technology makes them the perfect instruments to gather data about the office sound-environment – far better than smartphones, in fact.

All this makes headsets the perfect weapon for taking on the two biggest time-wasters and frustrations in call-intensive environments – too much noise and too many interruptions, each of which was cited by 25 percent of workers as the top office-related gripe among workers in contact-centric workplaces.

Headsets enable us to take heat mapping to an entirely new level of precision. Rather than merely observing the office environment, we can use these devices to gather unbiased data about the workplace and, perhaps most important, capture detailed information about the intensity of background noises. And instead of striving to get rid of noise in the office (which is virtually impossible), we can gather and analyze data from each headset to construct a detailed map of noise hotspots and reconfigure the workspace to relocate those noisy areas or employees elsewhere.

A “Can’t Miss” Developer Opportunity

For businesses, headsets offer a golden opportunity to convert ordinary data into powerful insights – and then act on it to create a better work environment and deliver higher-quality customer service. Achieving this goal, however, requires developers to come in and help convert the data into new insights. Without this, the data remain just that: datapoints that serve nobody.

The opportunity is somewhat reminiscent of when smartphones burst onto the scene a decade ago. Knowing a great thing when they saw it, developers almost immediately began writing all kinds of cool, useful (and, yes, some not-so-useful) apps to broaden their appeal and harness the power within these devices. The results are evident today in the millions of news, weather, sports, shopping, travel and countless other apps packed into our smartphones.

If even a small fraction of developer community were to embrace the opportunity today’s digital headsets represent, organizations and workers stand to benefit tremendously. (So permit me to extend an offer: If you’re a developer who is interested in exploring the outstanding opportunity digital headsets represent, we’d welcome your input. Just head over to our developer forum and let’s get started!)

We can’t fully escape the noise and distractions inherent in today’s open office spaces. But the combination of digital headsets and some savvy developers looking for the next big opportunity offer the promise of at least some peace and quiet for today’s workers and organizations.

Can Voice Analytics Stem the Customer-Satisfaction Skid?

Big data, in the form of speech analytics, is revolutionizing the way customer service is delivered. Can it jump-start stagnant customer satisfaction levels as well?

I’ll admit it. As predictions go, mine wasn’t as bold as the ones that foresaw flying cars, the end of the world or even that spam (the digital variety) would soon be eradicated from the earth.

But unlike those not-so-prescient prognostications, my prediction actually came true.

Several years ago I forecast that corporate contact centers would soon dive headlong into “big data” to provide a better, more personalized customer service experience. Continue reading

What Most Companies Forget When Fighting off Cyber attacks

The next battle in the ongoing war for security will be focused on devices which, thanks to the Internet of Things, are proliferating at an astonishing rate. But there’s one device that sits on almost every (physical) desktop – one that we rarely think of as a security threat: the humble telephone.

Never underestimate the ingenuity and effort that burglars will put into their work. If a team of committed criminals knows that there are untold of riches lying in a bank vault, they won’t be put off by a six-inch steel door, alarms and CCTV systems – they’ll find a way through somehow. Even if it means drilling through several feet of concrete over a Bank Holiday weekend.

There’s a lesson here for businesses, even if they don’t hold a hoard of gold and precious gems on their premises. Cybercriminals are just as skilled and determined as their colleagues in the offline world; if they know that there’s valuable data to steal, they will use the most devious and ingenious methods to steal it. Continue reading

“Yes, I hear you” (but I won’t remember or understand what you’ve just said)

Listening, really listening, is a skill. It’s not just about hearing – it’s also about understanding. Sadly, we’re losing our ability to listen. In part this is because we’re not adjusting to the environment around us, and we’re not utilizing tools that allow us to properly tune in.

 

The English literature scholar and teacher Mark Edmundson recently explained how college students suffer from “cognitive impatience.” They no longer have the patience to read longer, more difficult texts, he said. Today’s students, it has been suggested, cannot read with the critical analysis required to understand the complex arguments often found in more demanding texts.  Continue reading

Traditional Wireless Technology Is A Waste of Space

As businesses embrace the benefits of wireless technology telephony, they quickly run up against space limitations in today’s cheek-by-jowl office environments. New wireless standards offers a chance to re-think the office space. 

Communications technology might be making distances irrelevant, but people are acutely aware of the way that their own personal space is diminishing. The proportion of the planet living in urban areas has grown from 34 per cent in 1960 to over half in 2014, and we’re living and working in ever-smaller spaces. The average UK living room has shrunk by a third since the 1970s, for example; while in the US, each worker has lost 20 square feet of personal space since 1992.  Continue reading

Customers don’t care about it, but will leave you because of it.

The bad news. There are five issues common to Call Centers that can cause you to lose 9 out of 10 customers.

The good news. Once addressed, you can make your top call agents almost twice as productive as their least industrious counterparts – boosting customer satisfaction and upping retention rates.

 

When someone rings in to a call center looking to resolve a problem, they’re going to be pretty selfish. They might even be angry. They’ll probably be impatient, too. And so they should be. They purchased a product or a service and, for whatever reason, something has gone wrong. They don’t care about your problems as a service provider – they simply care about their problems going away. And if you can’t help, they’ll be the ones going… directly to your competition. Continue reading

Digitally enhance customer service. Don’t fully automate it

As the saying goes, “A problem shared is a problem halved.” Why then are many organizations automating their customer service functions – taking away the very human interaction that you expect, and need, when asking for assistance?

The answer, of course, lies in cutting costs. But are companies cutting off their nose to spite their face? In short, yes.  Continue reading

My Choice for Health App of the Year

Tired of stressing out every time you glance at your smartphone? Introducing Pause and Sway, a couple of simple but effective apps to help us relax and achieve inner peace.

Let’s face it: Our smartphones are an indispensable part of our lives, but they’re also a huge source of stress: The anxious text from mom, the angry customer rant or the “where’s-the-report-you-promised-me?” note from the boss.

So it’s refreshing to discover a smartphone app that actually relieves stress. Continue reading

Revealed! The Shocking Truth About the Goldfish-vs-Human Attention-Span Controversy

Digital distractions like smartphones, social apps and clickbait articles are diverting our attention and eating up our precious time. It’s time to train our brains to tune out the “noise” and focus on what’s really important.

Remember the great “Goldfish-vs.-Human” attention-span debate?

You know. Researchers determined that the attention span of humans had declined to eight seconds, even less than that of a goldfish.

News outlets like the New York Times, the Telegraph, Time magazine, USA Today and others breathlessly reported the disturbing details. Anguished commentary followed. Questions were raised. Fingers pointed. Continue reading