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Sunday, February 18, 2018
Article written by Melissa Vokoun

Headset Growth Out Of The Call Center And Into The General Office Cubicle

It is estimated that in North America, there are well over 30 million "knowledge workers" who use the telephone in excess of 2 hours per day. Yet, according to the Gartner Group, the telephone headset penetration rate is less than 10 percent of those workers. With the emergence of the segmentation and industry recognition of "customer experience" staffs in public and private organizations, those responsible for corporate communications, the need for companies who offer products and services for these critical corporate communications, is yet untapped.

The manufacturers of headsets, who previously focused on offering products more traditionally used for large Call and Contact Center applications, are now working in developing products for the "customer experience" market. This has been done in concert with the telephone switch/set manufacturers who are responding to the market's insistence that the addition of a headset to phones designed and developed for the "knowledge worker" be made available. Every one of the major telephony manufacturers (Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, NEC, Comdial) as a matter of course now make the addition of a headset as simple as "plugging in" to a special jack offered on most of their telephone sets designed for all office applications.

This moving of the usage of headsets out of the Call and Contact Center and in specialized job functionality has caused an explosion in the overall acceptance of headset usage in the office. However, most of the traditional "headset distribution" specialists are still pursuing the volume based Call and Contact Center customers leaving the majority of "new adopters" of headsets to rely on the catalog and office products supply stores to procure their headsets. While this proliferation and availability of headset products in the market has benefited these retail and e-commerce suppliers, many customers do not find the same level of satisfaction as would be found in working with suppliers who are well-versed at recommending products and assisting in the integration of these hands-free products that meet each particular workers' application.

While the use of headsets has become more attractive to "knowledge workers" due to a proliferation of new, exciting technologies and ease of integration with their telephone sets, the overall experience in the choosing and implementation of headsets in small and medium-sized organizations that are unaware of the breadth of products and technologies available has obviously not translated into a higher saturation of the product in the market.

Another consideration is the fast-growing usage of headsets with cell phones. With more and more state and local governments mandating "hands-free" use of cell phones when in transit, a traditional barrier to headset usage is rapidly breaking down. Organizations need to be poised to help transition those cell phone users to satisfied headset users in the workplace. Additionally, as many Fortune 100 companies continue to decentralize to be able to attract workers from diverse geographic areas of the U.S., more regional and branch offices are in need of attention in supplying headsets and related services on a smaller basis. At present, many of those offices are relying on the office supply channel to procure their hands-free communications products, but are limited in choice to the number of SKUs at their local retail outlet.

From a financial viewpoint, the adoption and use of headsets by "knowledge workers" has been shown to increase employee productivity and efficiency by an average of 23.5% (according to 2005 Plantronics White Paper). The financial ROI on the purchase of a headset for employees in Accounting, Marketing, HR, Engineering, Administration or Mid-level Managerial functions when compared to the increase in productivity, decrease in employee absenteeism due to fatigue and "handset usage" in conjunction with telephone usage will insure that within the next 20 years, the majority of all knowledge workers will consider their headset as integral to their job as their desktop computer, calculator, or phone.
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