Anyone who spends a considerable amount of time speaking with clients and vendors needs a good headset, but choosing the appropriate one for your employees is not a simple task. There are numerous things to consider, including comfort and style, sound quality, durability, connectivity, compliance with safety and health regulations, nature of the office environment, and other functionality.

The type of headset used is particularly important for contact centre workers because they spend about 99 percent of their working hours on the phone. Some of the factors to consider when purchasing an office headset include:

Corded versus cordless

Contact centres require their workforce to receive calls while accessing information from their computers. Since not much freedom for mobility is required, they can comfortably use wired headsets provided the cord is well positioned for convenience, such as “quick disconnect” feature. That said, wireless headsets are necessary for those who move around a lot, like contact centre supervisors. If you desire the flexibility offered by cordless headsets, you should ensure that it has good range or about 50m from the base, and that its volume control and mute buttons are well positioned for convenience.

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Noise-cancelling versus Voice-tube microphones

Some headsets come equipped with both functionality for use in different types of environments, though you may want to buy a set that is optimised for your noisy or quiet environment. Noise-cancelling microphones are ideal for busy and lively offices since they decrease background noise and allow your listeners to hear you better. Voice-tube, on the other hand, is ideal for normal environments as they ensure clear sound delivery in quiet environments. They also provide better hygiene since they are replaceable.

Acoustic Shock

The European Noise Exposure Directive that was updated in April 2006 requires that contact centres maintain a noise level of 80dB, though a recent study suggests that 21 percent of UK centres exceed this limit, while another 43 percent are fairly close to this level. To safeguard your workforce and avoid costly settlements or legal fees from ‘freak’ incidents, you should not only buy headsets that are EU compliant, but also those that offer protection against acoustic shock – protection against high intensity bursts of sound.

Monaural versus Binaural

For many people, the choice between monaural and binaural headsets is mostly a matter of personal preference. A single earpiece allows the user to hear conversations on the phone while listening to colleagues, so they know the events happening around them. While monaural headsets let you be aware of your environment while making calls, binaural headsets facilitate total concentration on the call. They can be used in noisy environments as they “close you off” the environment, lowering the ambient noise in the call centre.

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M175Future proof

Many call centres prefer to buy VoIP phones as part of their future technology environment, but telephones are likely to disappear as agents switch to desktop terminals for all their call needs. So, you should consider buying headsets that can adapt to a changing technology environment. Some things to consider in this regard are whether your agents work on desk or soft phones, or both, and whether they intend to rely on VoIP in the long run.

Depending on the duration of time the headsets will be worn, you should also consider sound quality, comfort, weight, and ergonomics, to maintain optimum performance and efficiency of your workforce.