“Scripts Are Beautiful” : Managers’ and Agents’ Views of Script Use in Call Centers

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

6 Scopus Citations
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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-357
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Business Communication
Volume58
Issue number3
Online published6 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Abstract

Some recent studies have reported how call centers employ low-skilled workers and how agents work robotically using scripts when assisting customers on the phone; other studies have focused on how they need to be “native speaker”–like in their language fluency when serving customers; and yet others talk of the repressive nature of the industry where agents become emotionally, culturally, and linguistically exhausted, exacerbated by the prescriptive and highly regulated use of scripts at work. While acknowledging that the use of scripts in call centers can result in agent disengagement and customers feeling they are talking to robots, this is not the complete story. This study aims to report on the use of scripts in the global call center industry, which may place their use in a more positive light. After first defining what is meant by “scripting” in this context, two case studies are reported on where line managers and agents found script use to be helpful in a number of ways. The first case study uses data gathered in an offshored monolingual call center in Manila, and the second study uses data gathered in a multilingual call center in London. How both managers and agents use scripts and how they perceive them are the focus areas of this study, and while arguably there are a number of problems with this practice, there are also self-reported benefits in supporting effective communication and positive business outcomes in the call centers.

Research Area(s)

  • call centers, calling scripts, ethnography, scaffolding, standardization