The Efficiency and Quality Dilemma: What Drives South African Call Centre Management Performance Indicators?

By Banks, Diane; Roodt, Gert | SA Journal of Human Resource Management, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Efficiency and Quality Dilemma: What Drives South African Call Centre Management Performance Indicators?


Banks, Diane, Roodt, Gert, SA Journal of Human Resource Management


Introduction

The strategic role of call centres is changing. It has become the primary way of delivering services and the main source of contact for customers. Companies attempt to achieve customer satisfaction by offering their customers easy access to their services and products whilst lowering their costs through a consolidated approach. This approach has its problems and managers struggle to balance the efficiency and quality imperatives of their businesses. This research focuses on these conflicting objectives and investigates the performance indicators that drive management practices in the South African call centre industry.

An array of easily accessible measures, which call centre technology offers, enables efficiency. These measures focus on call quantities and performance targets and offer data like:

* the number of calls waiting

* the proportion of calls answered

* the average call duration

* the customer waiting time.

Neely, Bourne and Kennerley (2003) suggested that there is too much measuring. Radnor and McGuire (2004) found that the role of call centre managers is administrative rather than managerial.

Managers focus on efficiency measures rather than on managing the quality of the customer experience - the courtesy, friendliness, and enthusiasm of call centre agents (CCAs). Call centre managers have to decide on practices that will meet the companies' expectations of rationalised operations whilst ensuring employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction.

Numerous researchers have investigated the conflicting nature of these call centre objectives well (Bain & Taylor, 2000; Batt, 1999; Houlihan, 2002; Kinnie, Hutchinson & Purcell, 2000; Taylor & Bain, 1999; Wallace, Eagleson & Waldersee, 2000). These studies suggest that the two objectives - efficiency and quality - are contradictory. Dean and Rainnie (2009, p. 326) captured the discrepancy in their reference to the call centre as 'a unique and contradictory service environment'.

There is an increased interest in the South African call centre industry as a way of creating jobs and foreign investment. This has given the industry a high level of visibility. Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies stated, at the 2009 launch of the Department of Trade and Industry investment call centre in Soweto, that 'the call centre is an apex government priority in terms of the Cabinet Plan of Action of 2007' (Department of Trade and Industry 2009a, para.2). Nimrod Zalk, deputy director-general of the Industrial Development Division, supported this. At the Business Process Outsourcing Week, held in November 2009, Zalk suggested that the government has prioritised and committed itself to the off-shoring industry (Department of Trade and Industry, 2009b).

This study contributes to the research on call centres in three ways:

* There have been relatively few empirical studies on the local call centre industry. The South African government's interest in call centres makes this industry important. Therefore, the study aimed to add to the body of research.

* In an overview of the current literature on call centres, Robinson and Morley (2007) and Russel (2008) concluded that research has concentrated on the labour processes call centres use and the experiences of CCAs. This study intended to use information from call centre managers to establish what drives call centre management practices in South Africa and how these relate to the dilemma between efficiency and quality.

* The third addresses Burgess and Connel's (2004) suggestion that most call centre literature comes from case studies. This is evident in the empirical studies on the call centre industry in South Africa. They suggested that surveys should supplement the current research. This study used a survey that elicited responses from more than 44 different businesses representing nine industry sectors. This provided a broad foundation on which to base conclusions. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Efficiency and Quality Dilemma: What Drives South African Call Centre Management Performance Indicators?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.