The Patience of a Saint: PsychTests Releases Study on What It Takes to Thrive as a Call Center Customer Service Rep

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A study conducted by PsychTests reveals the traits and skills that are necessary to survive and thrive as a customer service worker in a call center.

Got underperforming reps? PsychTests' personality test can help you pick teh right ones!

Got underperforming call center reps? PsychTests' personality test can help you pick the right ones!

You can’t control the type of people who will call your customer service center; every company will have their fair share of ‘customers from hell.’ What you can control is the type of person you hire to handle those calls.

It’s a marvel that customer service reps don’t wear mouth guards like professional athletes. Few professions require a person to bite their tongue as often as this field does. According to research from PsychTests done with their Call Center Job Fit Test, however, good customer service has little to do with a company’s ability to afford protective mouth gear. It’s a matter of finding an employee with the right personality profile to handle even the worst customers.

It’s like wearing chainmail in a thunderstorm, swimming in the ocean dressed like a baby seal, or opening Pandora’s Box. For customer service reps, answering phone calls almost always invites chaos, whether it’s in the form of yelling, swearing, or a blitzkrieg of insults. So how do employees survive in this position with their sanity intact? How do they manage to offer service with diplomacy when what they really want to do is cry, scream, or tell the person on the other end of the line to bleepity bleep? The key lies in the personality of the customer service rep.

Researchers at PsychTests took a sample of 681 people with experience in customer service and grouped them according to their performance ratings. When comparing the excellent group to those with a performance rating of satisfactory or lower, PsychTests’ study reveals that top-performing customer service reps are like a well-structured pyramid: they possess three key elements that solidify their position as customer service elite.

Excellent customer service reps possess a variety of people skills in spades:

  •     Listening Skills (score of 69 on this trait for the excellent group vs. 55 for the satisfactory and lower group, on a scale from 0 to 100).
  •     Friendliness/Pleasantness (score of 83 vs. 58)
  •     Social Insight (score of 82 vs. 62)
  •     Helpfulness (score of 79 vs. 64)
  •     Social Skills (score of 81 vs. 69)
  •     Communication Skills (score of 81 vs. 63)
  •     Assertiveness (score of 70 vs. 58)
  •     Conflict-Resolution Skills (score of 80 vs. 58)
  •     Problem-solving Skills (score of 77 vs. 60)

In order to handle numerous calls daily, excellent customer service reps rely on the following traits and skills:

  •     Time Management (score of 82 vs. 67)
  •     Organization Skills (score of 87 vs. 75)
  •     Meticulousness (score of 83 vs. 70)
  •     Efficiency (score of 84 vs. 67)
  •     Resourcefulness (score of 84 vs. 70)
  •     Computer Savvy (score of 87 vs.75)

Some may think it’s glutton for punishment, but the real reason why excellent customer service reps are able to handle even the toughest days is due to the following traits and skills:

  •     Patience (score of 79 vs. 64)
  •     Ability to perform under pressure (score of 82 vs. 52)
  •     Quick thinking (score of 80 vs. 57)
  •     Thick skin (score of 73 vs. 47)
  •     Trainability/Willingness to learn (score of 88 vs. 76)
  •     Mental Toughness (score of 77 vs. 49)
  •     Independence (score of 83 vs. 54)

”Offering good customer service, particularly on the phone, is a challenge,” points out Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “Chances are that when a rep picks up a call, they’re going to be dealing with someone who has already been on hold for quite some time and is likely not in a good mood as a result. Then there’s the added pressure of solving the person’s problem in a mutually-beneficial way in a limited amount of time. It’s a high-pressure job position, making it essential for companies to choose the right type of employee. You can’t control the type of people who will call your customer service center; every company will have their fair share of ‘customers from hell.’ What you can control is the type of person you hire to handle those calls.”

Those who wish to assess their customer service potential can go to

HR managers interested in using this or other pre-employment tests can visit

About PsychTests AIM Inc.:
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
PsychTests AIM Inc.
+1 514-745-3189 Ext: 112
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