As a member of a technical support desk that maintain telephony equipment, I find myself on the phone a lot of the time. Also as someone who dislikes the idea of Repetitive Strain Injury (or any injury for that matter) I use a headset instead of the receiver on my desk phone.
When I first started in a support role the only option we had for this bound me to my place, tethered by a curly cord that restricted movement to about an arm’s length from the phone. This meant that, among other things; it was hard to communicate with colleagues whilst on the phone, the cable could easily get disconnected and drop out if you tried to move the headset at all, and there was somewhat of a ‘No Fly’ zone on the table where any glass or notes would become victim to the wild strokes of the connector cable if you did need to adjust your seating.
Now that we have the wonderful world of Bluetooth on our side, and almost every device I can think of has some sort of USB Port, the choice of headset is far wider. Two of the options that I have had the pleasure to trial are the Plantronics CS headset and the Jabra Evolve 6.
We’ll start with the Plantronics CS Series (this was my first choice stepping into the wireless world).
The main upside for this headset is the docking station it comes with. As soon as you’re done on the phone or need to step away for a few minutes, you can just pop it down onto the charger to keep it topped up for the rest of the day.
Another strength it brings to the table is its versatility. It has the ability to be changed from over the head, with one or both ears covered, or it can go over the ear, with the addition of an in-ear earpiece. Personally I choose the latter, it’s lighter, it helps to cut out background noise and not having a band over the top of your head means your free to experiment with wild hairstyles (not that I have the privilege to do this myself).
However, one of the downsides of this headset is the price. You are paying for these additional features and as great as they are, you could end up paying up to double compared to the Jabra.
The other problem I have with it is that it can be a bit harder to set up than its competitor. My one came out of the box, plugged into the back of the phone and worked straight away, where one colleague of mine took a few days to check the configuration, test through the different channels for both the microphone and the earpiece and finally update the firmware so that he was finally able to take calls through it. His experience was unusual, but once it’s done it’s good to go.
Next we’ll move onto the Jabra Evolve 65. Straight away I can say that this headset is better than the other for mobile or remote workers. Its lighter, doesn’t have the docking station and a lot easier to set up.
This headset has a ‘Jack of all trades feel’ about it. No matter what device you’re using, I can almost guarantee that it will be able to connect and route audio through it. It comes with its own USB Bluetooth dongle, just plug it in and the headset automatically connects to it. And it also comes equipped with NFC, which gives it the ability to literally tap on any other NFC enabled device and then connect and work. So for making calls on the move and using in conjunction with soft-phone clients, the Jabra headset far outshines the Plantronics.
Another advantage is the price. Coming in at almost half the cost of the Plantronics, if you need a large number of them or think they might get broken or ‘go missing’ then this is the smarter choice.
Moving onto the downsides of this device, my first gripe is that there is not a lot of customisation available. You can’t change out the speaker for an in-ear option and even on the head band, you only get to adjust it by an inch or two which can be tricky to get it to sit comfortably. Alongside this, as the headset essentially ‘goes to sleep’ between uses, it doesn’t have your volume settings saved and you may find yourself spending the first few seconds of every call turning it up if you’re in a busy environment.
So where does that leave us?
With two devices, both fantastic in their own way and both with clear uses. The Plantronics CS Series is the perfect choice for any desk bound call centre agent. Once it’s set up and you’ve made it your own, it will just work away for as long as you need it to. Whereas the Jabra Evolve is the go to headset for anyone based on a soft-phone or mobile device. If you’re not sure if your next office is going to be a café, train or cab seat, you need a device that’s as mobile and flexible as you are and you just can’t get that from a docking station stand attached to a desk phone.