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Key personality traits and career satisfaction of customer service workers

John W. Lounsbury (Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA and eCareerFit.Com, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Nancy Foster (Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Patrick C. Carmody (Department of Psychology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Ji Young Kim (Keukdong College, Eumseong, South Korea)
Lucy W. Gibson (Resource Associates, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA and eCareerFit.Com, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)
Adam W. Drost (eCareerfit.com, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 31 August 2012

4790

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the present study is to identify key personality traits which distinguish customer service (CS) employees from other occupations and are related to their career satisfaction. As hypothesized, 2,610 CS employees were differentiated from other occupational groups by higher levels of conscientiousness, customer service orientation, and lower tough‐mindedness. Conscientiousness, customer service orientation, emotional stability, extraversion, and tough‐mindedness were significantly, positively related to customer service representatives’ (CSRs’) career satisfaction. Results are discussed in terms of the adaptive value of these traits for the recruitment, selection, and management of customer service employees.

Design/methodology/approach

Data for this study were extracted from an archival database containing information on individuals’ many different occupations and industries, including 2,641 CSRs and 76,788 individuals in other occupations. Measures included demographic items and the Big Five personality traits as well six other narrow personality traits.

Findings

As hypothesized, CS employees differed from other occupational groups by having higher levels of conscientiousness, customer service orientation, and lower tough‐mindedness. Also, conscientiousness, customer service orientation, emotional stability, extraversion, and tough‐mindedness were significantly, positively related to career satisfaction. Using hierarchical multiple regression, the Big Five traits (Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Emotional Stability) accounted for 22 percent of the variance in CSR career satisfaction, while the narrow traits added an additional 6 percent.

Originality/value

The findings of the present study are original in that the authors used a relatively large sample to identify key personality traits which distinguish CS employees from other occupations and are related to their career satisfaction. An empirically validated personality profile of CS workers was presented. The typical CS representative is more: conscientious, optimistic, intrinsically motivated, tender‐minded, deferential, conventional, willing to serve other people, and reluctant to work long hours or become workaholics.

Keywords

Citation

Lounsbury, J.W., Foster, N., Carmody, P.C., Young Kim, J., Gibson, L.W. and Drost, A.W. (2012), "Key personality traits and career satisfaction of customer service workers", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 517-536. https://doi.org/10.1108/09604521211281404

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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