6 Factors to Consider Before Buying Headsets
On the 2nd April 1985, Direct Line Insurance opened the first UK call centre in Croydon, south London. From those early days of one business employing 62 staff, it is estimated that there are now around 5,000 call centres employing almost one-million people in the UK alone.
With such a large percentage of the UK service industry employed in call centres, UK Unions and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, have been predicting the health issues likely to become prevalent in the coming years.
Among the issues specifically mentioned was the volume of background noise at work, and headsets unsuitable for the task in hand. If you work from home on the telephone, choosing the type of headset is wholly a matter of personal choice. However, if you are fitting out or refurbishing a call centre, the type of headsets you choose should, amongst other things, reflect the type of work required, and have the welfare and health of your operators at the fore.
Equipment Connectivity and Compatibility
There is a massive range of telecom equipment available in the call centre market. While the majority of headsets, both wired and wireless, are compatible with other manufacturer’s equipment, best audio results are generally obtained using phones and headsets from the same provider.
Comfort and Durability
Headsets are designed to slip over any shape and size of head, but when you’re wearing them for eight hours a day, you want more than that. Comfortable ear pads are a must and padded head bands may also help reduce pressure on the skull. Depending on the work involved, single earpiece ‘monaural’ or two earpiece ‘binaural’ headsets may be needed. Does the microphone or voice tube allow for easy positioning when required and does the cable have a quick release connector should the operator need to consult with their supervisor. All these points need to be considered to help minimise any unnecessary operator stress, in what is already a stressful occupation.
If external noise from other operators is a problem, dual earpiece headsets will often alleviate most of it. The better quality headsets will have noise cancelling, a maximum legal allowance of 87 decibels of sound volume, and acoustic shock protection all built in, to minimise the risk of operator ear damage.
Headsets can cost from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds. While buying a single headset is a matter of individual preference and the depth of your pocket, when buying tens or hundreds for a call centre, overall cost and effectiveness has to be taken into account. Companies such as PMC Telecoms specialise in business telecommunication solutions, and stock a large range of high quality Mitel headsets. Headphones are the single most important tool in your toolbox. Happy and relaxed operators are productive operators so purchasing the best headsets your budget allows makes good economic sense.
All expensive equipment should come with a manufacturer’s warranty, and two years should be considered the minimum. According to the 2006 Noise at Work Directive, the maximum noise exposure at work is 87dB (A). You should also check your manufacturer/supplier guarantees their products comply with this legislation.