How categorization impacts the design of requests: Asking for email addresses in call-centre interactions
journal contributionposted on 05.02.2021, 13:28 by Marie Flinkfeldt, Sophie Parslow, Elizabeth Stokoe
Marketing research shows that organizations tailor communication for particular customer ‘segments’, but little is known about the live design of interaction for different categories. To investigate this, we examined telephone calls to a holiday sales call-centre (for ‘seniors’) and a university admissions call-centre (for ‘young’ students). While topically different, calltakers in both datasets requested callers’ email addresses in order to progress service. Using conversation analysis, we examined how these requests were designed, where and how ‘age’ was made relevant, and how subsequent service provision was handled in a way that matched callers’ presumed age categories. Contrastive to the static notion of ‘segments’, we show how recipient design is bound up with categorial considerations while being responsive to the live unfolding of actual interaction. The paper demonstrates how a comparative collection-based approach can be used to analyse the relevance of social categories in situations where this is implicit or ambiguous.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media