As someone who manufactures headsets I am often asked what hierarchy of criteria I would base my decision making on if I was buying headsets for myself. This isn’t a pitch for any particular headset brand. You should be able to apply these rules to any headset brand, anywhere in the world, and it should hopefully help you to make the best decision for you, your Call Center, your agents and your clients.
Call Centers choose their headsets for several reasons, and very often they are the wrong reason. Over the past five years I have noticed several common procurement faults that all lead to poor decision making.
Procurement Fault – Existing relationships:
Buying the wrong product, and taking the wrong decision for your company, your agents, and your clients – all just so that you can keep your existing suppliers happy. Relationships do matter, but just make sure they don’t get in the way of a good decision.
Procurement Fault – Cheapest Price:
Buying at the cheapest price without looking at the total life-cycle cost. Yes, a product might cost less and come with a 1-year warranty, whereas a product that costs 25% more might come with a 4-year warranty. Buying cheaply, can literally cost you 400% more.
Procurement Fault – Head Office:
“Head office told us to buy these ones…” is a refrain you hear often.
Procurement Fault – Every department for itself:
This is where there is a complete lack of any defined procurement process and departments simply buy what is easiest and closest to hand.
The good news is that this is easy (and fair) to remedy, if you simply, and objectively ask the right questions.
As someone who manufactures headsets, if I was buying headsets, I would make my decisions based on the following hierarchy of criteria:
- Sound Quality
This is numero uno to me. Sound quality is critical to you, your agents and your clients. Make sure you have objectively tested i) receive & transmit quality, ii) Noise cancellation quality, and iii) recording quality – in comparative on-site tests.
2. After Sales Service
After sound quality, this would be my next decider. I would insist that a supplier can demonstrate a history that includes i) Swift replacement of all factory faults (I’ll give you 72 hrs.), ii) Repairs on all negligent damages with original parts (I’ll give you 72 hrs. here too and this will save me 10% to 15% of my annual headset purchases), iii) A process that allows me to recycle my used headsets (saves me 25% to 35% of my annual headsets costs through churn alone), iv) Assistance with implementation, set-up & roll-out (I want to see you as an extension of my IT team), v) short lead times (you better keep regional stock holdings), vi) Full technical support (I want to be able to pick up the phone and speak to an engineer, and he better be helpful), vii) Health & hygiene (I want a solid solution that will keep my agents healthy and happy, and make sure my headsets are bacteria free) , viii) Asset management & tracking, ix) Branding & customization.
3. Robustness & Durability
Make sure your supplier can prove durability. Call Centers are robust environments and headsets take a beating. Headsets designed for occasional home-office use are not going to last under daily Call Center conditions. Don’t bring me something flimsy and cheap. I want something bullet proof.
Your warranty period is my procurement cycle. Do the math. Check your warranty. And make sure you factor the lifespan of your headsets into your cost calculation. Yes, your headset might cost 25% less, but if it only comes with a 1-year warranty, I am going to buy the one that last 4-years.
Agents have a slightly different hierarchy of needs to those of the company. If I was buying a headset, I would make sure that I took all of their needs into account during my decision-making process. My objective is to make sure my agents know what to look for in a headset, and then to give it to them (see graphic at top of page)
Price is important but remember – the suppliers warranty period is the end-user’s procurement cycle, so the warranty and lifespan are critical to your calculation. Too cheap and I know you are skimping somewhere. Too expensive and it’s not good for my budget.
Hopefully following these simple guidelines will help you make better decisions.