Headsets heading for
the mainstream?

25 Nov 2005

Breaking out of the contact centre niche is the key to boosting sales of electronic headsets, a leading headset supplier has claimed.

Paul Dunne, Ireland country manager for Plantronics, said the penetration of headsets within general business was still less than 5pc even though in contact centre environments up to 95pc of all employees wear them. Closing this gap would be key to the growth of the Irish headset market, he argued.

Dunne said Plantronics itself had successfully reduced its dependence on the contact centre industry to the point where this year, for the first time ever, its revenues outside contact centres would exceed those within the sector.

Financial services was a key growth sector, said Dunne, with a growing number of “telephone jockeys” such as stockbrokers and mortgage advisers using headsets to assist their work. On the consumer side, gaming was helping to drive the adoption of the company’s products — Plantronics already manufactures headsets for popular computer games such as Halo 2.

Among the behavioural factors driving headset adoption were the growing demand for hands-free mobile solutions from motorists and the desire among office workers to avoid health problems such as back and neck pain associated with intensive telephone usage, he said.

According to Dunne, wireless headsets, such as those using Bluetooth technology, have also been shown to increase productivity. He cited a study done in the insurance industry in Ireland, which showed that call handling agents were able to reduce the average call duration from 10 minutes to four by virtue of being able to move around and access office equipment such as photocopiers and fax machines while still on the phone to customers.

He said SMEs could also benefit from using wireless headsets but so far had proven a more elusive target market. “It’s easier to get your message out to the financial services organisations or contact centres. How do you create a generic message for an audience as diverse as graphic designers and couriers?”

Plantronics has launched a new product, the Pulsar 590A, a hi-fi stereo headset that can connect with devices such as mobile handsets via Bluetooth. It also comes with a Bluetooth dock that can be plugged into the headphone socket of a television or stereo, which allows the user to watch the TV or listen to music wirelessly on their Plantronics headphone. If a call comes in, an extension arm can be pulled down which automatically connects user and caller. Pulsar is retailing at €179.99 incl Vat.

By Brian Skelly