Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1128246
 
 

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Is Courtesy Enough? 'Solidarity' in Call Center Interactions


Colin Clark


University of Sydney - Centre of English Teaching

Priscilla Rogers


University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Ulrike Murfett


Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - Nanyang Business School

Soon Ang


Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

April 28, 2008

Ross School of Business Paper No. 1103

Abstract:     
Polite self-presentation is expected of call center agents even through they must convey complex and unfavorable information speedily via the telephone. This study identified and evaluated the use of response strategies that are strongly associated with courtesy. Data were drawn from 587 stressful calls in a corpus of 3000 calls recorded at a large Singaporean insurance company call center. We adopted a grounded theory methodology together with a rich triangulation of qualitative (linguistic and rhetorical) and quantitative (scalar and correlational) methods. Tools for coding response strategies (independent variables)and courtesy (dependent variables) were developed via analyses of calls, interviews with call center agents and management, and a series of evaluations involving blind coding and subsequent consensus. We identified four categories of response strategies that are tightly related to each other and to courtesy: shows solidarity, anticipates needs, shows attentiveness, and asks for direction. Correlations and analysis of their enactment in stressful calls led us to propose solidarity expression - responses that engage the caller in search of meaning to work on the task as a team. We argue that solidarity expression challenges traditional views of politeness and is less about the presentation of self and more about enabling collaboration with the other.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 50

Keywords: Call centers, customer service, politeness, courtesy, solidarity

JEL Classification: L86, M29

working papers series


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Date posted: May 6, 2008 ; Last revised: May 20, 2008

Suggested Citation

Clark, Colin and Rogers, Priscilla and Ulrike Murfett and Ang, Soon, Is Courtesy Enough? 'Solidarity' in Call Center Interactions (April 28, 2008). Ross School of Business Paper No. 1103. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1128246 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1128246

Contact Information

Colin Clark
University of Sydney - Centre of English Teaching ( email )
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
Priscilla Rogers (Contact Author)
University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )
701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States
Ulrike Marianne Murfett
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) - Nanyang Business School ( email )
Singapore, 639798
Singapore
Soon Ang
Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University ( email )
S3-1C-95 Nanyang Avenue
Singapore 639798
Singapore
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