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The impact of call centre stressors on inbound and outbound call‐centre agent burnout

Michel Rod (Sprott School of Business, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada)
Nicholas J. Ashill (School of Business and Management, American University of Sharjah, Sharjah, UAE)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Publication date: 9 May 2013

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to draw on various models of burnout and test hypotheses relating to anticipated differences in the burnout process between inbound versus outbound call centre agents. This is achieved by comparing the magnitude of the relationships in the sequence of customer stressors → emotional exhaustion → depersonalization → reduced personal accomplishment across a sample of inbound and outbound call centre agents working in a large retail bank call centre in New Zealand.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from inbound and outbound call centre agents of a large retail bank call centre in New Zealand via a self‐administered survey questionnaire electronically distributed to all 195 call centre agents working in the bank's two call centre locations. Data obtained from the call centre agents were analysed using the SEM‐based partial least squares (PLS) methodology.

Findings

The findings of the study reveal significant differences between inbound and outbound call centre agents in terms of the extent to which emotional exhaustion impacts depersonalisation as well as the extent to which depersonalisation influences feelings of reduced personal accomplishment.

Practical implications

The research advances understanding of differences in the burnout process as perceived by inbound versus outbound call centre agents. Call centre management might consider improving the work environment to bring about greater job discretion/autonomy, greater job variety and performance monitoring in order to attenuate the stronger impact of these relationships in an inbound context.

Originality/value

These findings extend our understanding of these phenomena in the largely unexplored yet important context of call centre agent‐customer interaction in specifically highlighting differences between inbound and outbound call centre agent burnout.

Keywords

Citation

Rod, M. and Ashill, N.J. (2013), "The impact of call centre stressors on inbound and outbound call‐centre agent burnout", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 245-264. https://doi.org/10.1108/09604521311312255

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited