An analysis of web-chat in an outsourced customer service account in the Philippines

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

11 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-39
Journal / PublicationEnglish for Specific Purposes
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


Customer service using web-chat is fast becoming a popular global channel for sales, service and product support, particularly with younger generations, and businesses predict that this form of customer service will soon supersede telephonic support for sales and customer support. However, there are challenges in the quality of customer service web-chat communication exchanges, particularly in outsourced destinations in Asia where English is used as a second language, but to date, little applied linguistic and business management research has been done on the nature of these exchanges. This article provides an exploration into the issues faced by management and the agents in a Manila-based contact centre using web-chat, and includes an analysis of a data set of 44 authentic web-chat scripts, with an in-depth analysis of 3 taken from this large American telecommunications account. Given that the contact centres put very high value on relationship building, they have regulated for web-chat agents to engage the customer in exactly the same way as they would in spoken interaction on the phone, resulting in multiple back and forth exchanges. The impact of this requirement is investigated by analysing the way 44 web-chat texts unfold in defined generic stages compared to voice calls; these are then evaluated from a linguistic as well as a business point of view. A further in-depth analysis of 3 web-chats from the data set reveals other interesting linguistic characteristics of this kind of exchange.

Research Area(s)

  • Business communication, Contact centres, Discourse analysis, Web-chat exchange