call centreCall centre work is not for everyone. Is your personality suited to the environment, or are you banging your head against a brick wall?

Customers may often complain of the remote and impersonal aspects of call centre services, and call centre managers constantly strive to improve the consistency and efficiency to deliver a positive customer experience.

However, the biggest threat to customer service is also the biggest challenge – the retention of staff. It is very difficult to deliver continuity of service when absentee and attrition rates are high.

Many different strategies have been adopted in the attempt to crack absence and attrition issues in contact centres. Retention has been linked to different aspects of employee engagement and wellbeing such as work-life balance, autonomy, social isolation, workplace facilities, roster systems and many others. However, many call centres neglect the relationship between employee retention and personality.


In one study conducted by PCL, two main reasons were found for staff attrition:

1. Call centre work lacks flexibility

Firstly, those who had been excited by the attractions of a selling role can be disappointed and demoralised to discover that their role was tightly scripted, offering few opportunities for any spontaneous expression of their persuasive talents.

2. Age or maturity can impact outlook on call centre work

Secondly, a more mature group, who were reliable and conservative in their outlook, had difficulty in coping with the high spirits and short-termism of the younger people that dominated the culture.

Of course, call centres vary in their tasks, their sectors and culture, but there is a core set of attributes that are generalised across most call centre roles.


Personality also has an impact on appropriateness for call centre work

It’s not just the skills required to do a job that makes a great call centre worker or manager. Personality has a considerable impact on retention and performance. Employees with the most suitable personality for the role will be best able to cope with the demands of the job. They will also achieve most in terms of engagement, job satisfaction and performance.

Personality characteristics are deeply rooted. They have a big influence on behaviour; creating a hidden behavioural bias that favours some activities and avoids others. A very extroverted person, for example, will become increasingly restless when denied the company of others whilst an introvert may quickly become uncomfortable in a situation that demands relentless interaction with others. Of course, we are all capable of operating outside our comfort zone, but not on a full time basis.

By focusing on the primary colours of personality: extroversion, agreeability, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness, we can identify the behavioural biases that will either restrict or facilitate job performance in the call centre. These are then matched to the key competencies required to successfully perform in the job.

We have identified five key competencies required for a typical call centre worker role.

These are based upon personality and capability criteria and include: commitment, resilience, customer focus, inter-personal skills and attention to detail.


Does your personality suit call centre work?

So how does your personality match up to the call centre ‘ideal’? PCL has teamed up with to help you find out how well your personality matches up to typical call centre skills criteria. Use the link below and follow the onscreen prompts to complete the questionnaire and discover more about your own personality; where it fits and where it is likely to be challenged by a call centre role.

I took the test. It seems I am not suited to call centre work. Just as well I am sitting at my desk happily typing away, rather than manning the phones. But I could name a few people that I think would be ideal for call centre work … I think I’ll give them a call …


By Geoff Trickey, Director PCL

Published February 2014,
To read the original article, please click here.