Future Trends in Call Center Headsets
Technological advances in call center and office headsets have created endless possibilities for increased industry efficiency and agent proficiency. Headsets, however, have yet to reach their full potential. Products that fail to filter ambient noise can limit an agent's ability to communicate, while unwieldy design makes it impossible for agents to feel comfortable while working. As we anticipate the future of call center and office headsets, we see that the trends of design, technology, wireless connectivity and multi-use enhancements contribute to a common goal of increased call center efficiency and flexibility. Improvements in standard capabilities will allow agents unprecedented comfort and clarity. Meanwhile, innovation will pursue inter-functionality and make headsets much more multi-faceted tools.
Headset providers continue to introduce increasingly smaller and more lightweight designs. This directly translates to increased user comfort. Without the distraction of constantly readjusting an uncomfortable product, agents can efficiently deliver excellent service, customer after customer. While the widespread popularity of earhooks and headband headsets among agents shows no signs of letting up, a behind-the-neck wearing style is becoming more in-demand.
Just as good design increases user comfort, superior performance eliminates noise. Features like effective noise cancellation provide for crystal clear communications in noisy working environments. Designers and engineers also continually strive to improve audio performance. Acoustic Shock Protection that limits sudden bursts of "peak noise" to protect users hearing is becoming more and more important. Directives passed in Europe mandate decibel limits for both peak and sustained sound levels that reach a user's ear. Agents consider these capabilities essential to their jobs, and clarity will become a standard feature among all premium headsets.
As noise reduction and comfortable design become more commonplace, you can also expect to see greater inter-functionality. Headsets will integrate multiple interfaces for phones, and computer USB connections. That combined with Wideband audio capabilities will enable IP telephony applications with soft-phones like Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. Inter-functionality will also be evident in the influx of products that bridge the gap between standard office headsets and Bluetooth mobile headsets. Call centers will continue demand for corded headsets, and manufacturers will remain committed to producing those products. However, there is a new trend towards wireless call center headsets. After headsets have reached an industry standard for comfort, the next step will be toward wireless headsets, boosting user ease and enabling even higher productivity.
Engineered with the End-user in Mind
While focusing on agent comfort, headset manufacturers often overlook a key issue: most often, their products will not have just one end user, but multiple end users. It's essential that products accommodate multiple agents with features that allow for stored personal settings and preferred volume levels. This eliminates agents having to manually readjust settings at their beginning of their shifts. Products like the Jabra GN8210 provide both of these benefits, and several others. The first headset amplifier solution to use DSP to reduce noise on incoming calls, the GN8210 also supplies unsurpassed digital protection against sudden volume peaks and automatically regulates incoming call volume per user-defined levels. These amplifiers represent state-of-the-industry solutions for accommodating multiple users while achieving unprecedented sound quality.
While these trends might differ in terms of functionality, they all contribute toward improving the end-user(s) experience, which directly results in greater call center productivity.
Originally published in the August 2007 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions Magazine.