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Whenever you see stock photos of call centers, usually you see a line of smiling people all wearing headsets. Even though this seems to be the standard image of a call room environment, I have noticed that a lot of people that I work with and have worked with opt to use the standard phone rather than the headset. Whenever I ask the reasoning behind this, usually the answer is nothing more than “personal preference”.

While I am sure using a headset might not fit someone’s personal preference, deep down, I wondered if using a standard phone would actually improve my results. I tried using the standard phone for about 6 months and noticed dramatic differences in how I communicated with people. Some being positive, while others being negative. If you ever encounter a company who will give you a choice between the two, we have typed up a list of pros and cons of each choice.

Headset

Freeimages.com/len-k-a

Freeimages.com/len-k-a

Pros

  1. You are free to use hand gestures with both hands. If you have been following my posts, you know how much of a fan I am of using hand gestures. When you have both hands available, it’s much easier to “get in to it”.
  2. You’re free to browse your computer for research and take notes more efficiently and quickly. I am sure that you all are always scribbling or typing notes on every single call that you make. Often times, you probably need to do research on the computer too. It’s much easier to do this with both hands available.
  3. Having your client in both ears as opposed to one seems to “feel” more like a real conversation. I have noticed that I actually pay more attention to what they are saying.
  4. It’s comfortable. Sometimes, you might be having a 30+ minute conversation. I am sure you’d rather have some padded comfortable headset on than a hard piece of plastic pushed up against your ear.
  5. You look busy. I’m not an advocate of doing nothing. You should always be busy – but sometimes, you just need to take a 5 minute break.  Taking a break with a headset on is more conspicuous than just sitting there staring at your cubicle wall without a phone in your hand.

Cons

  1. You scream. Now that you have two pieces of padded insulation around your ears, the natural thing to do is to talk louder or accidentally scream. If you have a booming voice like me, your coworkers won’t take kindly to it.
  2. Unwanted feedback from the mic. This is all dependent on the quality of mic that you have, but even the slightest sigh, heavy breath, or hard “B” is audible and can be annoying.
  3. Technical complications. I have my headset hooked up to my phone system, so if I accidentally bump the phone and it comes off the receiver, it automatically switches to the phone. Not good when it happens in the middle of a pitch.

Standard Phone

Freeimages.com/Joanna Kopik

Freeimages.com/Joanna Kopik

Pros

  1. It’s more clean. I have zero scientific data to back this up, but I have always thought that you can clean it much easier than you can a headset, but that all depends on the style of headset ultimately.
  2. You feel more in control by gripping the phone. It’s almost as if you feel more powerful.
  3. You don’t have to worry about adjusting the mic for loudness or feedback.
  4. You’re more accustomed to talking on the phone using a standard phone. Unless you have a headset that you use in your free time while on the phone, it’s almost habit to use it this way, and thus, more comfortable for a lot of people.

Cons

  1. You only have one free hand to research or take notes, unless you do that awkward shoulder thing.
  2. Long conversations can get uncomfortable and tiring. Having that piece of plastic in your ear and simply the act of holding a phone up for half an hour can be tiring. Remember, you have to do it all day too.
  3. One ear available means that you can hear everything that goes on around you, so you can get distracted easier. It can also interfere with you hearing the other person too.

As for me, I prefer a headset every time. I have found that my own personal production is better while using a headset. I am more comfortable and can make calls quicker without feeling worn out, I can take more notes and do more research, and I can get more “in to” the conversation. It allows me to drown out my coworkers and focus on my customer, which ultimately, should be the primary focus of the call.

Author: Jason Karaman

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