Creating interactional alignment in call center customer care
This chapter examines how service calls are interactively accomplished on two levels: alignment and emotionality. The goals of brevity, efficiency and emotional control are traditionally regarded as masculine, while the goals of connection and alignment are typically regarded as feminine. The service agent’s role is to manage the conversation for service delivery. When callers deviate from the call structure, the agent steers the conversation back to the business at hand. Call centers are important business touch points. Through call center interactions, customers establish and evolve their relationship with that business. Call centers incentivize agents to enact the masculine protocols of idealized call center conversations when feminine sympathetic practices could increase satisfaction and efficiency. The dynamic nature of customer service calls aligns with Tim Ingold’s description of skills development that situates the practitioner in the context of an active engagement with the constituents of his or her surroundings.