Original Research

Personality as predictor of customer service centre agent performance in the banking industry: An exploratory study

Linda Blignaut, Leona M. Ungerer, Helene Muller
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 12, No 1 | a607 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v12i1.607 | © 2014 Linda Blignaut, Leona M. Ungerer, Helene Muller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 November 2013 | Published: 29 October 2014

About the author(s)

Linda Blignaut, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Leona M. Ungerer, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Helene Muller, School of Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies, CGS, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: Since service quality is an important differentiator in the banking industry, it is essential to select suitable customer service centre staff, particularly those who are responsible for handling queries from clients who hold significant lifetime value in this industry.

Research purpose: The aim of the study was to identify personality traits, as measured by the Occupational Personality Questionnaire 32r (item response theory scored version), including the more parsimonious Big Five personality traits, that may act as job performance predictors for customer service centre (CSC) agents in the banking industry.

Motivation for the study: This study provides an exploratory investigation of whether specific personality traits differ amongst CSC agents in the banking industry, based on their job performance. No published research in this field could be identified.

Research design, approach and method: Purposive sampling was used to collect data from the entire CSC agent base of a particular banking group (N = 89). Responses were analysed by means of quantitative techniques.

Main findings and practical/managerial implications: Results indicate that parsimonious traits of personality, expressed as the Big Five personality traits, predict job performance. The importance of carefully selecting suitable job performance criteria for a specific environment, however, emerged as a critical issue in performance prediction.

Contribution: The study focuses attention on the importance of CSC agents’ performance as frontline staff in the banking industry and identifying valid criteria for selecting the most suitable agents. Providing a one-contact point of service such as a CSC is a fairly new approach in the South African banking industry and this study provides an initial investigation of personality traits that may serve as job performance predictors in this environment.


Personality, Personnel Psychology; recruitment; customer service, customer service centre, call centre, Occupational Personality Questionnaire 32 (OPQ32r), banking industry


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