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Improving call centre agent performance: A UK‐India study based on the agents’ point of view

Vaikalathur Shankar Mahesh (The University of Buckingham, Buckingham, UK)
Anand Kasturi (Bangalore, India)

International Journal of Service Industry Management

ISSN: 0956-4233

Article publication date: 1 March 2006




The study was designed to understand important aspects of the call centre agents' job, from their point of view, and the relationships between these aspects and agent effectiveness as perceived by agents' supervisors.


Qualitative data gathering (from 113 agents) involved three methods: critical incidents, behavioural events interviews and focus group interviews. Based on the items thus identified, a questionnaire was administered (n=169) to agents in two call centres, and the results were analysed using factor analysis and correlation analysis.


Four distinct factors emerged from the analysis: intrinsic motivation (IM, α=0.91), reward/recognition (RR, α=0.56), customer stress (CS, α=0.85) and stress management (SM, α=0.74). IM correlated positively with effectiveness, especially among experienced agents. CS correlated negatively with IM and positively with RR; SM correlated positively with IM.

Research limitations/implications

Some limitations are: self‐reported data, representing one point in time, and with only two call centres. IM and CS present opportunities for further in‐depth study, among frontline employees in general.

Practical implications

The study has many significant practical implications for call centre managers to improve agents' performance by tapping into IM rather than control. Further, higher levels of IM are likely to lead to a less stressed workforce.


Our study has indicated two new and important constructs (IM and CS) that emerged from agents, and established important links between these constructs, and with effectiveness.



Shankar Mahesh, V. and Kasturi, A. (2006), "Improving call centre agent performance: A UK‐India study based on the agents’ point of view", International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 136-157.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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