Does Personality Matter for Call Center Agents?

If you’ve ever wandered up and down the aisles in a contact center, listening to the background drone of conversation, you have no doubt wondered about the people that work in this environment. What makes a good call center agent? Can you predict an individual’s potential – who will stay and thrive, and who won’t? All other things being equal, does personality matter for call center agents?

I reached out to a number of contact center managers and asked this same question. The answer, to my surprise, was “not really.”

Though personality can be used to help categorize people and describe dominant traits, experts feel that it’s just one of many factors which matter in the call center environment. For example, successful employers look at a range of factors beyond personality – experience, skill sets, motivational factors (personal interests, culture alignment, etc.), neurolinguistic factors, and more.

Successful agents may share particular personality traits (depending on the particular role), but they’re not necessarily the prime predictor of success. At British Gas (who run an award-winning call center), management used a simplified version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to categorize personality types: the brisk ‘controller’, the joke-telling ‘entertainer’, the intelligent ‘thinker’ and the sensitive ‘feeler’ (personality types were literally displayed at employees’ desks). Based on those classifications, employees were trained to recognize and work with different customer personality types. For example, a ‘controller’ may need a lot of detail, whereas an ‘entertainer’ may respond to a comment about the weather.

So it seems that where agents are concerned, one size does not fit all. A great deal of effort goes into hiring, training and maintaining an effective call center workforce, composed of people with different personality types. And while personality may not be the dominant factor, it is one of many components used to select and properly motivate agents, who really are your front-line brand representatives.

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