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Article
Publication date: 1 February 2004

Inge Sieben and Andries de Grip

Analyses whether the participation of workers in general, sector‐specific, and firm‐specific training affects their expectations on job mobility within or outside the call

Abstract

Analyses whether the participation of workers in general, sector‐specific, and firm‐specific training affects their expectations on job mobility within or outside the call centres sector. Distinguishes between the perceived difficulty to find an equally attractive job and the inclination to quit for another job. Employing data on 525 call centre agents working in eight call centres in The Netherlands, finds that training does not significantly affect the perceived labour market perspectives of call centre agents, nor influence expected job mobility inside or outside the sector. The inclination to quit the present job within two years is the same for agents with and without training. There is one exception, however. Agents who followed firm‐specific training significantly less often considered quitting for a job in another call centre. All this is good news for firms offering training. Another finding, however, might be more problematic. The work experience of agents positively affects their labour market perspectives inside the sector. In addition, agents with more experience are more inclined to quit for a job in another call centre. This means that firms need to keep their employees satisfied.

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Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 28 no. 2/3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0590

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Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 23 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0887-6045

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Article
Publication date: 2 November 2010

Alessandro Laureani, Jiju Antony and Alex Douglas

This paper, a case study, aims to illustrate the application of lean six sigma in a call centre of a service industry corporation.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper, a case study, aims to illustrate the application of lean six sigma in a call centre of a service industry corporation.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on process information and primary data from a real project.

Findings

The study describes improvements in the operation of the call centre attributable to lean six sigma: increase in first‐call resolution ratio, reduction in operator turnover and streamlining of processes.

Practical implications

The introduction of lean six sigma into the call centre daily operations' management may have organizational benefits.

Originality/value

Although lean six sigma has been extremely successful in the last two decades in the manufacturing sector, its applicability to the service sector has been a controversial topic. This study illustrates its application to a fast‐growing area of the service sector, assisting companies in identifying areas of development for their call centres.

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International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, vol. 59 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1741-0401

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2010

Christer Strandberg and Rolf Dalin

The purpose of this paper is to explore and describe associations between the strategic (market/industry) context, the operational requirements, and the work design of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore and describe associations between the strategic (market/industry) context, the operational requirements, and the work design of in‐house, inbound call centres in the financial sector.

Design/methodology/approach

This cross‐sectional study uses data from a survey conducted between February 2002 and September 2005 as part of the Global Call Centre Industry Project, which included call centres from 17 countries. The present analysis is based on a sub‐sample of 375 call centres from that survey.

Findings

Managers of in‐house, inbound call centres in the financial‐services sector claim that they adopt a relationship‐oriented approach to the work of their call centres; however, the present study demonstrates that they fail to design their employees' work appropriately to meet this requirement. This is especially the case for call centres in the insurance sector.

Research limitations/implications

The original data collection was undertaken in a much broader context than this delineated study. There is a need to develop the concepts of relationship building and work design in the context of call centres. There is also a need to explore the perspective of employees with regard to operational requirements and work design and the customer's perception of service quality.

Practical implications

If managers of call centres in the financial‐services sector really wish to encourage relationship building between employees and customers, they need to reconsider the current work design of their call centres.

Originality/value

The paper enhances knowledge of how operational requirements are linked to work design in call centres.

Details

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, vol. 20 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-4529

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Article
Publication date: 31 July 2009

Olukemi O. Sawyerr, Shanthi Srinivas and Sijun Wang

The challenge of attracting and retaining high performing call center employees is significant. Research in general has shown a link between personality factors and job…

Abstract

Purpose

The challenge of attracting and retaining high performing call center employees is significant. Research in general has shown a link between personality factors and job performance. This study aims to focus on examining the relationship between personality factors and performance using service performance indicators and further, to study the role of emotional exhaustion in this relationship in the context of call centers.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a structured questionnaire 194 call center employees and their supervisors were surveyed in eight call centers in five companies in the insurance and telecommunications industries.

Findings

Results using structural equation modeling showed that, with the exception of extraversion/introversion, all of the personality dimensions of the five factor model: conscientiousness, agreeableness, openness to new experience and emotional stability as well as locus of control were significantly related to one or more of the performance measures. Emotional exhaustion mediated the relationship between emotional stability and locus of control and intent to turnover.

Research limitations/implications

The study examined the mediating role of emotional exhaustion in the relationship between personality and performance; the impact of stressors needs further study.

Practical implications

Insights gained from this study could be used to develop selection strategies, work redesign programs and training that would benefit the organization by reducing employee costs and enhancing employee wellbeing.

Originality/value

This study uses service performance assessment data obtained from supervisors to establish the link between personality, emotional exhaustion and service performance among call center employees.

Details

Journal of Services Marketing, vol. 23 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0887-6045

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Article
Publication date: 1 August 2004

Kokin Lam and R.S.M. Lau

As the call center services are becoming an integrated part of most organizations, the efficiency of their operations is vital to the competitiveness of the organizations…

Abstract

As the call center services are becoming an integrated part of most organizations, the efficiency of their operations is vital to the competitiveness of the organizations. This paper describes a restructuring effort of a Hong Kong‐based company, which provides technical support services in office equipment, computer and system products. Faced with many process improvement opportunities, a simulation approach is used to explore the different options and to evaluate the results for restructuring the existing call centers. The analysis of the simulated results has confirmed that the greatest improvement opportunity is to merge the existing resources into a single call center. Assured by the simulation findings, management is able to evaluate different tangible and intangible benefits before implementing the restructuring plan.

Details

Business Process Management Journal, vol. 10 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1463-7154

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Article
Publication date: 20 March 2007

Charles Jobs, Deena Burris and David Butler

This paper seeks to build on a previous article published in International Journal of Social Economics Vol. 33 No. 10 titled, “A case study in the globalization of jobs in…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to build on a previous article published in International Journal of Social Economics Vol. 33 No. 10 titled, “A case study in the globalization of jobs in Ireland” by objectively assessing many socioeconomic implications of the call center industry in Ireland. The paper first builds a foundation of understanding on what comprises the call center sector and highlights the fact that it is a large, complex and stratified business. It investigates the socioeconomic impact of this industry on Ireland by analyzing how Irish call center jobs pay compared with other Irish industry sectors and the impact of immigration on salary levels. The paper also assesses the evolution of the business model of Irish call centers and Ireland's international recruiting patterns as they impact the Irish labor pool. Finally, it seeks to explore in depth the nature of call center sociopolitical activity and influence.

Design/methodology/approach

This general review is based on a field research project including survey data obtained by a team from the University of Southern Mississippi and supported by The Irish Development Agency (IDA). The survey collected data about the workers, management and demographic trends of the Irish call/contact center sector. This information is enhanced by review of literature and available secondary data.

Findings

This paper builds a foundational understanding for the reader of the true nature of the call center business within Ireland and in global terms. It offers a balanced assessment to the common perception that call centers are white‐collar sweatshops and articulates the true nature of this stratified and evolving business sector. The paper then explores the socioeconomic impact of the evolution of this key employment sector in Ireland.

Originality/value

It builds on the case study paper featured in Vol. 33 No. 10 of the International Journal of Social Economics by investigating in greater detail the social and economic impact of this research on Irish workers. The value is that the paper studies a significant Irish industry sector in terms of social effects brought on by change due to advances in technology and the globalization of jobs. This is important to economic development groups such as IDA Ireland and development agencies in other countries facing similar situations.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2006

Vaikalathur Shankar Mahesh and Anand Kasturi

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…

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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.

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

International Journal of Service Industry Management, vol. 17 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0956-4233

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2001

Alan Miciak and Mike Desmarais

Service quality performance is benchmarked at business‐to‐business and business‐to‐consumer call centers. Differences between call center types are observed including…

Abstract

Service quality performance is benchmarked at business‐to‐business and business‐to‐consumer call centers. Differences between call center types are observed including characteristics of operation, customer ratings of service quality performance, and employee ratings of workplace issues. Business‐to‐business call centers are challenged by customers who have higher expectations for service performance and who are more critical evaluators of organizational service performance. Implications for customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty are discussed.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 16 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2000

Maeve Houlihan

Call centres are high‐pressure work environments characterised by routinisation, scripting, computer‐based monitoring and intensive performance targets. This promises a…

Abstract

Call centres are high‐pressure work environments characterised by routinisation, scripting, computer‐based monitoring and intensive performance targets. This promises a series of business advantages, but also risks counterproductive outcomes. Drawing on evidence from ethnographic field data, it is suggested that both desired and risked outcomes are mediated by personal modes of coping and organisational sustaining mechanisms. A central concern is to explore the underlying assumptions of call centre design and management, and to establish whether or to what extent information systems have been constructed as learning sites or behavioural control sites. When behavioural control is a primary goal this introduces a climate of resistance, further inflated by the culture of measurement and enforcement that is likely to ensue. In this environment, agent, manager and organisation become defensive and the main outcome is a destructive crisis of trust that creates important and difficult implications for the capacity to learn.

Details

Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 24 no. 2/3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0590

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