Original Research

The efficiency and quality dilemma: What drives South African call centre management performance indicators?

Diane Banks, Gert Roodt
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 9, No 1 | a331 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v9i1.331 | © 2011 Diane Banks, Gert Roodt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 October 2010 | Published: 29 March 2011

About the author(s)

Diane Banks, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Gert Roodt, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: Call centres have become principal channels of communication with customers. Therefore, companies attempt to reduce costs and improve the quality of their interactions with customers simultaneously. These objectives are often conflicting and call centre managers struggle to balance the efficiency and quality priorities of the business.

Research purpose: This study explored the key performance indicators that drive management practices in the South African call centre industry in the context of the dilemma between efficiency and quality.

Motivation for the study: The South African government has identified call centres as a method of creating jobs and foreign investment. Management practices affect centres’ performance. Understanding these practices will help to achieve these aims.

Research design: The researchers used a web-based questionnaire in a survey with South African call centre managers in more than 44 different organisations that represented nine industry sectors.

Main findings: This study indicated that the dilemma between efficiency and quality is prevalent in South African call centres and that efficiency key performance indicators drive management practices.

Practical/managerial implications: The inconsistencies the study reported mean that South African organisations should assess the alignment between their organisational visions, the strategic intentions of their call centres and the performance measures they use to assess their call centre managers.

Contribution/value-add: This study adds to the relatively small amount of empirical research available on the call centre industry in South Africa. It contributes to the industry’s attempt to position itself favourably for local and international outsourcing opportunities.


key performance indicators; call centre manager; qualitative measures; quantitative measures; South African call centres


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Crossref Citations

1. Is the quantity-quality trade-off in call centres a false dichotomy?
Benjamin Piers William Ellway
Managing Service Quality  vol: 24  issue: 3  first page: 230  year: 2014  
doi: 10.1108/MSQ-09-2013-0192