Discourse Analysis of Call Center Conversation Research Proposal

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¶ … Conversation

Along the past recent decades, economic entities have suffered numerous mutations in the way they approach business partners, satisfy the customer, increase corporate profits or treat the employees. In the same time, their expectations have significantly increased. Most of the employers strive to offer an increased employee on the job satisfaction, but in return, they demand that the staff members increase their performances in sustaining the organization reach its overall objectives. Managements have developed and implemented numerous strategies to monitor and control the human resource, one of the most relevant such methodologies being the discourse analysis.

Discourse Analysis

In terms of historical terminology, the word discourse derives from the Latin discursus, which means conversation or speech. Along the decades however, the understanding of the word has evolved to incorporate more forms of communication. The discourse analysis defines numerous approaches to studying human interactions in terms of communications. Along the years, it has been offered various definitions and has been implemented with a multitude of usages. A presentation of the most relevant definitions is given below:

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M. Stubs (1983): "The term discourse analysis is very ambiguous. I will use it in this book to refer mainly to the linguistic analysis of naturally occurring connected spoken or written discourse. Roughly speaking, it refers to attempts to study the organization of language above the sentence or above the clause, and therefore to study larger linguistic units, such as conversational exchange or written texts. It follows that discourse analysis is also concerned with language in use in social contexts, and in particular with interaction or dialogue between speakers."

M. Chimombo and R.L. Roseberry (1998): "Analysis of discourse is a methodology for examining texts and the communicative process that gives rise to them. Its primary purpose is to enable discourse analysts to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of texts."

Research Proposal on Discourse Analysis of Call Center Conversation Assignment

D. Crystal (1992): The discourse analysis is the study of "a continuous stretch of (especially spoken) language larger than a sentence, often constituting a coherent unit such as a sermon, argument, joke, or narrative."

K. Wisniewski (2006) "Discourse analysis is a primarily linguistic study examining the use of language by its native population whose major concern is investigating language functions along with its forms, produced both orally and in writing." Otherwise put, the discourse analysis is the "branch of applied linguistics dealing with the examination of discourse (which) attempts to find patterns in communicative products as well as and their correlation with the circumstances in which they occur, which are not explainable at the grammatical level"

G. Ward (1997): "A discourse is an abstract public sphere of words and images. [...] Discourse analysis has its roots in linguistics, literary studies, and anthropology."

M.J. Terre Blanche and K. Durrheim (1999): "Discourse analysis is a qualitative research design."

L. Zeeman, M. Poggenpoel, C. Myburgh, and N. Van Der Linde (2002): "Discourse analysis is a reflexive process that aims to provide an account of how 'objects' in the world are constructed against a back ground of socially shared understandings. These socially shared understandings often have become institutionalized and gained factual status. It is a form of social critique."

In order for a written or spoken information to be considered discourse, it has to meet the following seven criteria:

Cohesion, meaning that the grammatical relationship between the parts of a sentence is vital for its interpretation

Coherence, implying that the sentences must flow in a logical manner that gives sense to the argument

Intentionality, meaning that the writer or speaker must deliver the message in manner that is deliberate and conscious

Acceptability, meaning that the audience must approve the communicative product

Informativeness, meaning that the speaker or writer cannot simply restate previous ideas, but he must introduce new pieces of information

Situationality, implying that the information delivered is relevant in a certain context

Intertextuality, meaning that the information communicated refers or is also relevant to the outside world (Beaugrande, 1981)

In a more simplistic formulation, based on the above presented statements, the discourse analysis, or the conversational analysis, represents the study of various forms of communication in a way that goes beyond syntax or grammatical correctness and looks beyond the actual words to see what the speaker or writer is in fact trying to communicate.

3. Discourse Analysis and Employee Focus

The conversational analysis has a multitude of applications in the business community, one of the most relevant of these applications being the analysis of the focus employees have on customer satisfaction. In other words, by listening to the pre-recorded phone calls between company agents and clients, the organizations are able to evaluate the attention employees offer to the satisfaction of their clients. Foremost, this also helps in identifying how the staff members manage to understand and implement the corporate culture relative to the treatment and satisfaction of the customers.

A primary specification to be made relative to the connection between corporate employees and customer focus is that this can often vary based on the spiritual state of the employee. Otherwise put, the performances of the company agents can be influenced by the feelings they encounter at a respective moment. Say for instance that an employee is depressed and sad; his focus on satisfying the customer could be limited. If on the other had the employee is happy, he will better strive to focus on the customer and satisfy his needs. As a result then, it has been observed that the emotional state does not only influence the employee himself, but also the persons with whom he comes into contact (Coupland, 2001).

Discourse analyses have also revealed a direct connection between the personal identity of the employee and his job related performances. The identity of the individual can best be observed through an analysis of the employee's behavior and the remarks he makes of himself. "This enables a focus on how these assumptions function in talk, that is to blame, justify or legitimise an account. Talk about the self is located in conventions of discourse, which are embedded in wider concerns" (Coupland, 2001).

The results have been retrieved through the implementation of the discourse analysis and have been based on the listening of the recorded phone conversations between employees and customers. The tone of the agent and his remarks are often sufficient to shed some light into his emotions, which can then be linked to his focus on the full satisfaction of the customers' needs and wants.

Discourse analysis's main aim is usually to show the connection between discursive practices and broader social and cultural developments and structures. The underlying premise is often that discursive practices both mirror and actively contribute to social and cultural change" (Roskilde Universitetscenter). Through a generalization of this statement, it could be said that the discourse analysis of the agents in the call center can materialize in changing effects upon the business community. In other words, through a carefully developed and implemented conversational analysis, the managers at the organization can retrieve numerous relevant conclusions, and implement various strategic approaches to resolving the identified problems. This would ultimately materialize in a change within the company's microenvironment, obvious in an increased customer focus, a better client satisfaction, a better market consolidation of the organization and increased corporate profits. The effects of the impending change would not only be suffered by the organization implementing the discourse analysis, but also by its stakeholders. The shareholders would be significantly better satisfied as their dividends would increase, and the competing organizations would have to implement better strategies.

The employees would also gain a comparative advantage in the meaning that they would come to realize their limitations and would also be given the chance to overcome them. Therefore, moreover since the actual costs of implementing discourse analysis are quite limited, the procedure stands increased chances of retrieving results that support the future personal and professional development of the staff members (the University of Texas, School of Information).

The success of the implemented discourse analysis would however depend on a multitude of forces. Since the study of communication patterns is not an exact science, mistakes in increasing employee focus could be generated by personal interpretations. To better understand, a manager might see a problem where there in fact isn't one. His suggested strategies for improvement then could have negative impacts and further decrease the attention agents place on the customer satisfaction. "Discourse Analysis and critical thinking is applicable to every situation and every subject. The new perspective provided by discourse analysis allows personal growth and a high level of creative fulfilment. No technology or funds are necessary and authoritative discourse analysis can lead to fundamental changes in the practices of an institution, the profession, and society as a whole. However, Discourse Analysis does not provide definite answers; it is not a "hard" science, but an insight/knowledge based on continuous debate and argumentation" (the University of Texas, School of Information).

The employees analysed through discourse methods are often aimed to offer information to the corporate clients. The analysis then is… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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