Call centre agents are becoming increasingly important in the call centre setting. They act as a contact point between the customer and the company, and can therefore be regarded as the builders of the company's image. Outbound call centre agents have the difficult task of gathering valuable research information. Due to the importance of these agents, they should have certain competencies to perform their duties sufficiently. The aim of this study was to determine what exactly a call centre agent needs in order to make that agent an ideal worker. Identifying competencies required to be ideal agents will ease the task of training and recruitment. Due to the interrelatedness of the subsystems of a call centre, not only the perceptions of the call centre agent, but also the views of managers and customers were taken into account. The systems theory allowed the researcher to take into account the interrelationship between these different subsystems. A qualitative methodology was used to gather this information, as it was the ideal method to show the complex processes and interactions in the call centre. Content analysis was used to analyse the data. Firstly, categories for the information were developed (open coding), then the categories were labelled (axial coding) and finally the categories were refined and integrated (selective coding). The results are presented from agents, customers and managements perspectives. The results found in this study are also connected to previous literature done regarding service representatives in general. Finally the competencies identified from the results are integrated with and related to the systems theory. Recommendations with regard to training for call centre agents are made, as well as recommendations concerning research possibilities for inbound call centres and cross-cultural studies.
Dissertation (MA (Research Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2005.