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Quality vs. Quantity: What's the Way to Go When Buying Contact Center Headsets?


TMCnews Featured Article

November 18, 2009

Quality vs. Quantity: What's the Way to Go When Buying Contact Center Headsets?

By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

What’s better, buying a huge box of inexpensive contact center headsets at a bulk price and simply replacing them as they break, or buying a smaller quantity of high quality headsets that are built to last and hoping that they really do?

This has always been a bit of a quandary for call center managers and their supervisors in charge of making equipment purchases. Obviously there is a strong temptation, especially these days, to go with cheaper equipment and hold down company procurement costs.

But as you might imagine, buying cheap contact center headsets can be a costly mistake. The main problem with cheap headsets is that they deliver poor sound quality – and with poor sound quality comes misinterpretations, and misunderstandings, during phone interactions – which in turn can lead to agent errors and upset customers.

The other problem is that a cheap contact center headset is much more likely to break during an agent’s shift -- or worse yet during an interaction -- resulting in a serious disruption to customer service. Because call center agents are the “frontline” of any business -- the first and arguably most important customer touch point -- it behooves companies to equip them with durable, top-performing equipment.

It’s well-known that contact center headsets take a beating -- let’s face it, contact center agents aren’t likely to take good care of them in the first place. They get dropped, sat on, thrown against the wall in frustration and abused in other ways that test the limits of construction and durability. Therefore it is a good idea to go with headsets that undergo rigorous durability testing in addition to delivering high end audio quality.
For example, look for headsets that undergo a drop test (preferably from a height of at least 60 inches) and make comparisons between brands (and models) in terms of how many times they failed, on average, based on these tests.
Also important is the cable flex test, which tests how well the wires hold up after months or years of twisting and pulling. This is a common problem with inexpensive headsets: The cheap wiring breaks inside the insulation and then one of the earphones fails, or the microphone goes out, rendering the entire headset useless.
It is also really important to look for headsets that have undergone durability testing for their mechanical (i.e. moving) parts. For example, a boom rotation test will reveal how many times the microphone boom can be swiveled before it finally fails. If your headsets are going to be worn by more than one agent then you should also consider wear and tear on the headband adjustments, as these will be moved daily.

Even small details, like the material used for the ear pads, can make a difference. Are the ear pads on the headset plain foam – or are they coated with a durable material that will resist tearing?
When purchasing contact center headsets, durability is an important consideration. When reading reviews of the contact center headset models you are considering, pay close attention to how the different models stack up in terms of durability – whether tested by a third party or the manufacturer.

In most cases, the amount of money saved by investing in higher quality, more durable models is greater in the long run compared to buying less expensive headsets and replacing them as they break. Therefore the topic of “quality vs. quantity” should never even enter into a decision to purchase contact center headsets – don’t let it!

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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