Who’s a better call center agent: An introvert or an extrovert?

Faith Ocampo Published on May 25, 2016

smiling-filipina-call-center-agent

Introverted and extroverted call center agents have a unique set of strengths and weaknesses when it comes to delivering customer service.

It’s no surprise that contact center managers would usually hire agents based on their personalities. Extroverted applicants, who are generally seen as outgoing and at ease in groups, are usually favored over introverted ones, who may appear shy and quiet. But is the former really better than the latter when it comes to customer support?

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According to Carl Jung, the psychologist who first studied these two personality types, there’s no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Meaning, each of us is partly extroverted and partly introverted, but we exhibit tendencies that lean toward one of the two. These are traits that can be readily observed as we interact with other people. These are also the same traits that recruiters watch out for.

In fact, having applicants take personality tests is one of the most popular recruitment strategies. It’s a way to assess whether someone’s attitudes are fit for the job. However, although this pre-employment screening method has its uses, you should not fully rely on it. Both personality types have unique characteristics that make them great call center agents. Here’s a breakdown of some of their major strengths and weaknesses.

Extroverts as customer support reps

One of the main things that make extroverts a great fit for customer service jobs is that they automatically gravitate toward other people. Their motivations are oriented outwards, so they thrive in social interactions. This makes them comfortable, almost at-home, around other people. They can easily express their ideas and feelings, so talking to them can be very stimulating.

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All these characteristics make them effective agents, especially as the job is primarily about communicating with customers. Because extroverts relate well to other people, they can effortlessly project a warm and agreeable vibe. Delivering personalized and friendly customer service, therefore, is their strongest suit.

Within the organization, extroverts also have a natural flair for working in teams. During meetings, they actively contribute their ideas and are able to assert their opinions confidently. Because of this, they’re usually handpicked for leadership positions.

However, the spontaneity of extroverts may sometimes make them poor decision makers. Although they think fast, they may fail to think things through. This is something that must be addressed as part of your contact center training.

How about introverts?

Introverted call center agents are not bad at their tasks as well. As opposed to extroverts, the introvert’s energy is stimulated by their own thoughts. So while they prefer to be alone to refresh their minds, the ability to logically organize ideas makes them efficient problem solvers. A 2012 study found that introverts are more adept at abstract thinking and decision making compared with extroverts. This may be their greatest strength when it comes to customer support.

But what about their verbal communication skills?

Introverts may not sound as energetic as extroverts on the phone, but they’re great listeners. This allows them to empathize with frustrated customers who may be encountering complex issues.

When it comes to working in a team, which is unavoidable in a contact center, the introvert may prefer to take tasks that they can do alone. In meetings, they may not speak up at first because they need time to think and form ideas. When they do pitch in, however, they’re likely to come up with novel and out-of-the-box solutions to problems. This is a result of reflexive thinking and the ability to synthesize abstract thoughts thoroughly.

Who should you hire?

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Actually, it’s not a question of who you should hire, as both personality types have their own strengths and weaknesses. Aside from recruitment concerns, your call center also needs to tweak its management style to cater to the needs and motivations of all employees. For instance, if your introverted agent sounds too shy when talking on the phone, you may assign them in the non-voice customer support department instead.

If your extroverted employee, on the other hand, talks too much and listens too little, see to it that they’re properly coached. These management techniques will allow individual agents to fully utilize their expertise, resulting in higher productivity for your call center.

Faith is a digital media enthusiast aiming to become an active part of the tech world by sharing her insights. She likes to blog about everything digimarketing, technology, and social media.
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