Enhancing customer service: Perspective taking in a call centre

C.M. Axtell, Sharon Parker, D. Holman, P. Totterdell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We propose that an important prerequisite of helping customers is the capacity to take the customer's perspective. If this is the case, then it is also important to consider the factors that might facilitate perspective taking. To investigate this, 347 customer service agents in a UK call centre were surveyed on the antecedents and outcomes of customer-oriented perspective taking. Managers also supplied ratings of helping behaviour for 141 of the service agents. Structural equation modelling showed a positive relationship between perspective taking and self-reported helping, and this relationship was partially mediated by empathy. Perspective taking was also positively related to managers' ratings of helping but this relationship was not mediated by empathy. In turn, service agents' perspective taking was predicted by the perceived reciprocity of customers and by having a positive customer role orientation (which was itself predicted by job enrichment). Predictors of helping customers included perspective taking, empathy, and having an integrated understanding of the call centre's services. Enhancing employees' perspective taking and their integrated understanding of the organization's services might thus be hitherto neglected avenues for enhancing the quality of customer service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-168
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Volume16
Issue number2
Early online date4 Jun 2007
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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