Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Personality as Predictor of Customer Service Centre Agent Performance in the Banking Industry: An Exploratory Study

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

Personality as Predictor of Customer Service Centre Agent Performance in the Banking Industry: An Exploratory Study

Article excerpt


Key focus of the study

The valuation of customers is gaining importance in the retail banking industry (Haenlein, Kaplan & Beeser, 2007). This development supports a central idea in customer relationship management, namely that since customers vary in terms of their needs and the value they generate for a firm, they may have to be managed accordingly. Clients who hold significant lifetime value in the banking industry warrant special consideration, and since staff interacting with them may require distinctive qualities, this need to be considered in selecting suitable frontline staff members who deal with them. A number of meta-analyses substantiate the value of personality measures in selection (Tett & Burnett, 2003), whilst additional meta-analyses suggest that personality measures may predict job performance quite well in particular settings (e.g. Barrick & Mount, 1991; Salgado, 1997).

As far as could be determined, limited research has investigated the personality requirements of staff manning a customer service centre (CSC) in the banking industry. No relevant published research on the relationship between CSC agents' personality and their job performance within the South African banking industry could be found, pointing to a need for the current study. It serves as an exploratory investigation of whether specific personality traits differ amongst CSC agents in the banking industry, based on their job performance.

Potential value-add

Sawyer, Srinivas and Wang (2009) recommend investigating the relationship between personality factors and performance in the context of a customer relations management call centre environment in more depth. Huysamen (2002) also suggests ongoing research on assessment tools within the South African context. To this end, the researchers set out to investigate the relationships between the personality traits of CSC agents and their job performance in the banking industry using a well-established personality measure in South Africa: the Occupational Personality Questionnaire 32r (OPQ32r).

This research particularly contributes to an area of research related to call centre work that has received minimal research attention, namely the relationship between the individual characteristics of call centre employees (for instance, their personality characteristics) and their job performance (Sawyer et al., 2009). The selection of suitable staff or staff whose personality types meet the job requirements can potentially reduce absenteeism and turnover and have a positive link to customer service delivery (O'Hara, 2001).

Ones, Dilchert, Viswesvaran and Judge (2007) indicate that future research should continue exploring the potential for self-report ratings of personality in personnel selection, placement and promotion decisions. Identifying the personality characteristics of individuals who are successful in its CSC environment may assist the banking group to create a better fit between employees and the requirements of this type of environment. This, in turn, may improve organisational outcomes through improving the quality of the organisation's customer service and reducing the financial and human costs associated with poor service performance, poor attendance rates, high turnover rates and the cost of ineffective assessments.

Background to the study

Service quality is a critical factor for survival in the banking industry since it enhances customer satisfaction, improves customer retention and establishes a favourable overall image for financial institutions. It further significantly improves financial performance in terms of interest margins, return on assets, profit per employee and capital adequacy (Ladhari, 2009).

Ladhari (2009) advises that bank managers should recognise the crucial role that frontline employees play in establishing and maintaining a competitive position for their institutions. In light of their extensive influence, these employees should be recruited carefully, properly trained and motivated and supported by means of suitable recognition and incentive schemes. …

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