Applying systemic functional linguistics: Understanding the choices of quality in the workplace
Outsourcing of customer and other services to developing countries is a significant aspect of global commercial activity, and an area of explosive employment growth in many locations, such as India and the Philippines. The present paper investigates what is meant by the term ‘quality’ and the language choices made by Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) in outbound credit collection calls. The data is based on a case study undertaken in a call centre in the Philippines. We focus specifically on an analysis of authentic calls and how the language choices relate to calls being assessed within the industry as ‘good’, ‘average’ and ‘poor’. The analysis of the transcribed data revealed that the speech functions and the choice of ‘Mood’ – i.e. whether a clause is a declarative, interrogative or imperative – were important features of the call, and that these choices were related to the assessment of calls being labelled as ‘good’ or ‘poor’ calls. An understanding of what a ‘good’ call looks like can help inform the quality assurance and training practices within the industry.
Author: Gail Forey, Marvin Lam
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