Sensory processing and work performance of contact centre agents in South Africa

Lewis, Juan David (2008-03)

Thesis (MBA (Business Management))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The primary objective of this study was to establish if the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile questionnaire (AASP) could be used as a recruitment tool in selecting contact centre agents with a higher predictability for success and hence higher productivity. Contact centres around the globe face the challenge of high staff turnover and absenteeism, reducing profitability. It seems that work performance related to the way in which adults process sensory input has not been well researched. A model was developed by Dunn (Brown et al., 2001) based on the intersection of a neurological threshold continuum and a behavioural continuum and yielding four quadrants: Quadrant 1, Low Registration (of stimuli); Quadrant 2, Sensation Seeking; Quadrant 3, Sensory Sensitivity, and Quadrant 4, Sensation Avoiding. Forty-eight contact centre agents employed by Liberty Life were selected and assessed on the AASP. Performance data for each contact centre agent were collected: available time, auxiliary time, log-in time, quality assurance, absenteeism and length of service. Spearman rank correlations were conducted to test if relationships exist between any of the four quadrants and the performance measures. As an additional investigation, a Suitability Score (based on clustering of scores with a percent assigned) was derived for each contact centre agent and also correlated with the above performance measures. Significant relationships were found between Quadrant 2 scores and three of the performance measurement criteria. As the Quadrant 2 scores increase, the average available time of the agents will decrease and their average log-in time will increase. Absenteeism increased as well, which is expected to have a negative effect on the productivity of the contact centre. The Quadrant also had a high predictability for Suitability Ratings indicating that as the Quadrant 2 score increases, the suitability of the contact centre agents increases as well. Regarding Quadrant 3 (sensory sensitivity) scores, quality assessment, total days of absenteeism and average absenteeism relate negatively. It seems that contact centre agents with high sensory sensitivity are less suitable for the job. As the score increases the quality assessment scores decrease, which is not what is required in terms of quality standards. A negative relationship exists between Quadrant 3 scores and the Suitability Rating scores, indicating that the higher the quadrant scores the less suitable the contact centre agents are to work in the contact centre environment. Quadrant 4 (sensation avoiding) has a negative relationship with Suitability Rating scores, which indicates that the higher the quadrant score the less suitable the contact centre agent is to work in the contact centre environment. No significant relationships were recorded between the performance measurements and Quadrant 1 (low registration) and Quadrant 4 (sensation avoiding), even though, logically, one would expect agents with less distraction to be more productive. Further studies are recommended before the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile questionnaire is used as a recruitment tool. Future studies could categorise the quadrant scores into clusters and then test for relationships with the set performance measurements. The Suitability Rating was used in a first attempt to match individuals in a specific job according to specific sensory profiles. This measure has not yet been tested for validity and reliability, which must be done prior to further study using it.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die primêre doel van hierdie studie was om vas te stel of die Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (AASP) vraelys gebruik kan word as ‘n hulpmiddel vir die werwing en seleksie van kontaksentrum agente, met ‘n hoër waarskynlikheid van sukses en, dus, hoër produktiwiteit. Kontaksentrums op elke vasteland kom te staan voor die probleem van hoë personeelomset en werksafwesigheid wat winsgewendheid verlaag. Die manier waardeur volwasse mense hul sensoriese insette verwerk, in verband met werkprestasie, is nog nie goed ondersoek nie. ‘n Model is deur Dunn (Brown et al., 2001) ontwikkel wat gebasseer is op die kruispunt van ‘n neurologiese drumpel kontinuum en ‘n gedragskontinuum wat tot vier kwadrante lei: Kwadrant 1, Lae Registrasie (van stimuli); Kwadrant 2, Sensasie Soekend; Kwadrant 3, Sensoriese Sensitiwiteit, en Kwadrant 4, Vermyding van Sensasie. Agt-en-veertig kontaksentrum agente wat in diens van Liberty Life is, is geselekteer en beoordeel volgens die AASP. Prestasiedata is saamgestel vir elke kontaksentrum agent: beskikbare tyd, oortollige tyd, teenwoordige tyd, kwaliteitsversekering, werksafwesigheid en jare diensplig. Spearman rang korrelasies is onderneem om te toets of daar verbande bestaan tussen enige van die vier kwadrante en die prestasiemaatstaf. In ‘n addisionele ondersoek is ‘n geskiktheidsmaatstaf ontwikkel wat gebasseer is op trosvorming van tellings met ‘n toegekende persentasie. Dit is gedoen vir elke kontaksentrum agent en hierdie tellings is ook gekorreleer met bogenoemde prestasiemaatstawwe. Statisties-beduidende positiewe verbande is gevind tussen Kwadrant 2 (sensasie soekend) tellings en drie van die prestasiemetingskriteria. As die telling van Kwadrant 2 toeneem, neem die gemiddelde beskikbare tyd af en die teenwoordige tyd van agente toe. Werksafwesigheid het ook toegeneem, wat moontlik negatief kan inwerk op die produktiwiteit van die kontaksentrum. Die kwadrant het ook ‘n hoë waarskynlikheid openbaar in die geval van die Gekiktheidsmaatstaf, wat aandui dat, namate die Kwadrant 2 telling toeneem, die gekiktheid van die kontaksentrum agent ook toeneem. Wat Kwadrant 3 (sensoriese sensitiwiteit) tellings betref, bestaan daar ‘n negatiewe verband tussen kwaliteitsversekering, totale aantal dae van werksafwesigheid en gemiddelde werksafwesigheid. Dit blyk dat kontaksentrum agente met hoë sensoriese sensitiwiteit dalk minder geskik is vir die pos. Soos wat die telling vir sensoriese sensitiwiteit toeneem, neem die telling vir kwaliteitsversekering af, wat nie in terme van kwaliteitstandaarde aanvaarbaar is nie. Daar bestaan ‘n negatiewe verband tussen Kwadrant 4 (sensasie vermyding) tellings en die tellings vir die Geskiktheidsmaatstaf, wat aandui dat hoe hoër die kwadrant telling, hoe minder geskik is die agent. Geen statisties-beduidende verbande is gevind tussen die prestasietellings van Kwadrant 1 (lae registrasie) en Kwadrant 4 (sensasie vermyding) nie. Normaalweg sou mens verwag dat agente met minder afleiding, meer produktief sou wees. Daar word voorgestel dat verdere studies onderneem word voordat die Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile as ‘n werwingsmaatstaf gebruik word. Toekomstige studies kan die kwadrant tellings saamvoeg in trosse en dan toets vir verbande met die vooropgestelde prestasiemaatstawwe. Die Geskiktheidsmaatstaf is gebruik as ‘n eerste poging om individue saam te voeg in ‘n spesifieke pos, volgens ‘n spesifieke sensoriese profiel. Hierdie maatstaf moet vir toepaslikheid en betroubaarheid in verdere studie getoets word, voordat dit gebruik kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/886
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