Richard Rogers gives some pointers about how to select the best headset for your contact centre.
The contact centre environment is very noisy. Agents are constantly on the phone to customers or liaising with colleagues and, although noise is integral to the collaborative environment, it’s not always conducive to the customers’ or the agents’ experience – and often leads to mistakes and repetition, which can frustrate callers.
To address this, contact centres can implement measures such as installing white noise generators or other noise-cancelling technology, increasing the space between agents, or adding sound absorbing material to desks, floors and walls to help reduce noise. Another factor that can play a role in overcoming these challenges is providing agents with the right supporting technologies, and in particular the right headset to help ensure they can deliver a high level of customer service.
Advances in headset technology
Undoubtedly, headset technology has developed significantly over the last few years, incorporating noise cancelling and wireless capabilities, which can be invaluable in the call centre environment. For example, the use of noise-cancelling technology enables clean and crisp communication between the agent and the customer, allowing the agent to better manage customer requests and deliver an increased level of service.
The use of wireless headsets also means that call centre agents have the flexibility to move around the office from loud areas to quieter ones – something which is not possible if they are using wired headsets. As before, this reduces the level of noise surrounding the caller, which previously could have had a negative impact on the customer’s experience.
Selecting the right headset
Despite the obvious benefits delivered by an efficient headset, contact centres should remember that one type of audio device does not fit the needs of every user. The benefits of selecting the most suitable headset for the agent can significantly increase the service they are able to deliver as well as increasing job satisfaction. As such, when deciding which headset is best suited, a number of factors must be considered:
- Working environment – Does the design of the office space require noise-cancelling or wireless technology? For example, if the office has already been designed to minimise background noise, organisations could decide to prioritise other features such as design and optimum audio clarity.
- User experience – If the user is fairly inexperienced with audio devices, contact centres must ensure they provide a headset which is easy to use.
- Comfort – Contact centre agents can spend up to eight hours a day on the phone. Therefore, they need a device which is lightweight, designed for comfort and customisable to fit a variety of users.
- Working roles – Some contact centre agents may be required to move freely around the office managing a variety of requests. These agents require a wireless headset with an increased wireless reach and one that crosses communication platforms and networks.
- Legislation – Does the office environment comply with EU noise legislation? Since 2006, EU noise legislation means employers need to provide staff with suitable hearing protection where noise exceeds 80 decibels. In the first instance, contact centres need to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment of the project. Following this, they must provide testing and tools to automatically manage noise exposure via the headsets. In addition, they have to ensure the daily noise exposure of each employee is monitored and automatically controlled to aid compliance with legislation as well as to make sure the headset is capable of identifying and suppressing sudden loud sounds to protect the user.
Selecting the right headset for your unified communications deployment
Unified communications (UC) can also play a critical role in enhancing contact centre service levels. Contact centres are at the cutting edge of UC deployments, having ensured that information such as presence, availability and contact details have been available to front-line agents for years. More recently, contact centres have begun to integrate their UC capabilities with the back office to increase the benefits a successful UC deployment can deliver, such as increased collaboration and communications among employees throughout the entire business.
With UC delivering various benefits, it is critical that contact centres select a headset that is compatible with the UC deployment. For instance, a headset that automatically provides and updates presence information when agents are on a call will help employees redirect customers to the relevant available contact, helping to manage the customer’s request in a quicker and more efficient manner while enhancing first call resolution. However, as before, contact centres must also ensure they are deploying headsets which are not only compatible with the wider UC deployment but also suitable for the working environment, and are easy to use, comfortable and designed for the various call centre roles.
If contact centres carefully consider these factors and implement these processes, they are more likely to select a headset that is suitable for the agent’s specific needs. Contact centres must ensure they are selecting a headset which empowers their employees, suits their roles and gives them more knowledge regarding employee availability so that queries can be resolved quickly and efficiently. All of this will help to make call centres a better place to work, reduce attrition rates and enhance customer service.
Richard Rogers is the Head of EMEA B2B Marketing, Plantronics (www.plantronics.com)