Article : Call Centre Technology: Headsets
Headsets are an essential component of an efficient call centre. For call handlers who need to access a PC while talking to customers by phone, the headset is the key piece of equipment responsible for comfort and productivity at work.
Sound quality represents an important part of the overall work environment for people spending up to eight hours a day on the phone. If they can hear the customer clearly, it is far easier to concentrate on providing a professional and efficient service to callers. The leading headset manufacturers make significant efforts to ensure the human voice sounds as natural and intelligible as possible, for both parties involved in the conversation
All good quality communication headsets and signal processing adapters sound better than handsets for both speaker and listener. This is because headset systems normalise sound, by compressing the voice register from both extremes (very loud to very quiet), making it easier to hear. This process works both for the agent and the caller on the other end of the line.
Headset systems also aim to ensure the agents voice is clearly heard against background noise levels and reduce these levels when the agent isnt talking. And, of course, most headsets offer some form of volume adjustment. To provide maximum safety protection for people who are on the phone all day, headsets are subject to rigorous technical standards, to eliminate any risk of damage to the ear.
In addition, headsets provide protection against Phone Neck, an increasingly common cause of occupational injury. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has reported a growing number of neck problems caused by wedging the telephone handset between neck on the shoulder. This is the most stressful of any neck movement and can lead to serious injury.
An independent research project, carried out by the Institute for Treatment & Prevention of Repetitive Motion Injuries in California warned that anyone using the traditional telephone receiver for a minimum of three hours a day while performing other tasks could be exposed to the risk of a musculo-skeletal or Repetitive Strain Injury.
The study looked at individuals in a range of occupations including financial operations, solicitors and journalists. Sophisticated surface electromyography (EMG) equipment was used to evaluate muscle tension caused by performing routine activities while on the phone, using both a handset and a headset.
When using headsets, subjects were significantly less likely to experience muscle tension. The results confirmed that headsets can prevent upper back and neck strain, reducing muscle tension by up to 41%. Headsets will also improve posture with a direct result on voice quality and call handling skills.
Hands free calls can bring about improvements in productivity. Other studies have proved that a person who spends all day on the phone can make up to 16 more calls per day with a headset. Keyboard speeds can increase by as much as 43%.
Advances in communications technology have created a new generation of headsets, which are lightweight, unobtrusive and easy to wear. Since January 1996 all headsets sold within the U.K. are legally required to meet stringent quality and technical specifications. Headset buyers should always look for the distinctive CE mark which guarantees that the product meets these standards.
Finally, remember there is no standard headset interface adopted by telephone systems manufacturers. The complexity of modern telecommunications means that your connection will vary depending on the telephone system and types of consoles, telephones or turrets you use. Any reliable headset manufacturer and reseller will ensure that your headsets are designed and configured to provide connectability with your own system.
With thanks to Paul Clark, International Marketing Director, Plantronics Ltd
Plantronics offers mobile headsets to address the cordless and mobile phone market computer, audio headset products for computer applications and corded and cordless headsets and systems for the office, small office/home office and call centers.
Published: Monday, January 6, 2003
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