International Journal of Service
Vol. 11 No. 2, 2000, pp. 131-141.
MCB University Press, 0956-4233
Operational determinants of
caller satisfaction in the call
Richard A. Feinberg, Ik-Suk Kim and Leigh Hokama
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Ko de Ruyter and Cherie Keen
Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Performance measures, Customer service, Customer satisfaction, Call centres
There has been, and will be, a spectacular growth in the number of call centers on
both sides of the Atlantic. So far, however, empirical evidence is lacking as to the operational
determinants of caller satisfaction in call centers, despite the multitude of call performance
metrics registered in many call centers. Undertakes an empirical assessment of the relationship
between caller satisfaction and a number of critical variables. The results are astonishing. Of all
the critical operational determinants only ‘‘percentage of calls closed on first contact’’ and
‘‘average abandonment’’ have a significant, albeit weak, influence on caller satisfaction.
Concludes, therefore, with a call for more research into reliable and valid predictors of caller
Probably the most urgent questions facing most businesses that believe they
care about their customers (after they have what the customer wants) revolve
‘‘What is great service?’’
‘‘How can we provide it?’’
‘‘How do we get better?’’
Many companies have reached the conclusion that the relationship with the
customer should not end at the store door. These companies believe that
customer access after the sale adds value to the transaction (Marsico, 1996).
Customer call centers have emerged as a leading weapon on this customer
satisfaction battlefront (Anton, 1997; Dawson, 1998; Aksin and Harker, 1999).
Call centers allow a company to build, maintain, and manage customer
relationships by solving problems and resolving complaints quickly, having
information, answering questions, and being available usually 24 hours a day,
seven days a week, 365 days of the year (Prahabkar
, 1997). Indeed, it
appears that customers now expect and demand telephone access to companies
and manufacturers (Cowles and Crosby, 1990; Dabholkar, 1994).
Companies that have call centers as a focus of their customer satisfaction
strategy may look like they really care more (and maybe even actually care
more), differentiate themselves from the competition, and thus are in a better
competitive position than a business only available at a store between 8. 00 a.m.
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