Headsets are synonymous with call centers and their significance shall
pervade so long as call centers exist. Yet, the mindshare this product category
enjoys with the technology decision makers is negligible. Not because its
importance is underestimated but because of its level of investment-which is
far less when compared to technology infrastructure and applications.
A headset is the customer's entry point into a call center. The quality of
service delivery, hence, is largely dependent on it. How well call center agents
come across to customers depends on how the agents sound to the customers and
how well the customers sound to the agents. That's why the type of headsets
one uses at a call center makes a huge difference in both the satisfaction of
the agents who wear them and in the satisfaction of customers on the other end.
It is a widely acknowledged that use of headsets results in at least 40
percent plus increase in productivity in telephone-intensive applications.
Statistically valid test results indicate that the use of a headset improves one's
feeling of well being, a key component to employee satisfaction and
CHOOSING A HEADSET
Irrespective of the quantum of investment, a headset has to be chosen
carefully keeping in mind business imperatives, technology options,
compatibility issues, after-sales support services, and user friendliness of the
Following are some of the aspects that a buyer should consider when deciding
on a headset vendor:
Noise level: Determine your call center's noise level so you can
select the appropriate headsets. Investing in features that you may not need or
skimping on those you do, can leave you with headsets that don't function well
in your particular call center environment.
Compatibility with amplifier: Ensure that headsets are compatible with
amplifiers. This aspect is particularly significant for people requiring
replacement of headsets. However, the trend nowadays is towards direct connect
wherein headsets have built-in amplifiers.
Product range: Does the vendor of choice offer a full range of
products? Comfortable agents are productive agents and there are many headset
styles to meet individual needs-there is never a 'one size fits all'
situation. To increase agent productivity and monitor customer satisfaction,
choose a vendor that has a cordless option for trainers or supervisors to move
freely from agent to agent.
One supplier: Consider standardizing on one headset manufacturer and
supplier. When developing a call center or looking to update your inventory,
identify one solid supply chain that can meet all your needs. This will lower
your transaction costs, which can lower your overall cost of ownership.
Inventory management: Be thorough in considering inventory management.
Where are you going to store and how will you keep track of your headset
inventory? Identify a vendor that offers inventory management solutions.
and support: Think about how your headsets will be serviced after the sale.
Make sure that you identify a headset supply chain that will provide you 24-hour
support. Having headsets working around the clock is crucial. Without headsets,
agents don't answer calls and sales don't get made.
Agent training: Remember that agents need training on how to use, care
for, and maintain the headsets. Trained agents will protect your headset
investment. Some vendors provide onsite training, computer-based training,
training videos, and interactive tutorials.
Cost of ownership: Analyze your headset expenses over a two to four
year period, not just on the upfront purchase price. The purchase price accounts
for only half of the costs over a period time. Repairs, spare parts, shrink, and
mismanaged inventories and warranties comprise the remainder of the expenses.
Identify all costs upfront so you have a complete picture of your financial
The sound of the future: Consider whether your manufacturer is
continuing to invest in R&D in the call center. The headset is the last link
between agents and customers; it should provide superior sound quality, fit,
comfort, and stability-allowing agents to focus on calls and closing sales,
and not bother with inadequate headsets.
There are a number of technology issues that needs careful consideration
when buying headset. First, the decision to buy headsets will be determined by
the fact whether the call center is on VoIP or TDMA technology. If it is on VoIP,
the headset has to have a USB port while the traditional environment will
require the headset to fit into the wired phone socket on the agent's desktop.
Headsets can be monaural or biaural and call centers can buy either,
depending on agent preference. Indian call centers, by and large, are seen to
opt for biaural headsets because of the high level of ambient noise. Whereas
most agents in US and Europe use monaural headsets.
While most vendors offer both amplifiers and headsets, these days built-in
amplifiers are becoming popular. Commonly known as direct connect, they not only
bring down the total cost of ownership but also make the workplace less
cluttered as the amplifiers along with the connecting wires are done away with.
Wireless headsets are also available in the market and have a lot to offer in
terms of convenience. However, due to high cost their demand is restricted and
they are used only by supervisors and senior management. While headsets in India
usually sell in the price band of $55-75, wireless headsets come a around
Finally, noise-canceling technology is by far the most important feature to
look for in a headset. There are various options available in this category.
- Over-the-head noise canceling
- Over-the-head voice tube
- Over-the-ear noise canceling
- Over-the-ear voice tube
- In-the-ear noise canceling
- In-the-ear voice tube