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Call Centre Cheat Sheet: Cross-Cultural Communication Case Study

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Updated: Feb 22nd, 2022

During the years, the trend of companies having call centres has developed rapidly. This has made communications with customers easier, faster and cost effective. In order to save more on the cost, companies from the developed countries such as the USA and UK have opened their call centres in the developing countries.

But this has affected the quality of service being provided and moreover, “Moving call centres offshore may be an effective way to increase service productivity by lowering costs, yet recent research suggests that customers associate offshore call centres with lower service quality” (Walsh, Gouthier, Gremler, & Brach).

It is understood that American and British customers prefer the customer service executive to be a native so that communication is easy. “The most important thing for a customer is that they are listened to and their ‘problem’ is dealt with quickly and efficiently” (Employwise).

To overcome this challenge, companies have started giving training to their overseas employees to behave and speak as the Americans do. Even their official names have been changed. This might be a cause of concern regarding the self esteem of the employees because their individuality is lost amidst posing as an American. On the contrary, if the name is left aside, the American accent, behaviour, etiquettes, and the mannerism that an employee learns can definitely be of great use once the employee wants to hunt for a job in America itself.

As has been discussed, American and British companies outsource their call centre requirements from India and other countries. It is also understood that the main expectation of such companies from their overseas employees is that they should be proficient in their accent.

The employees need to be trained well in this field. So the companies arrange training sessions of a month or so, prior to putting them on calls. “The demand for globalized speech has led to the creation of specialized institutes for accent neutralization” (Nadeem). During the training, the employees are trained in the accent as well as mannerism and behaviour. “Often intermediaries who are familiar with both cultures can be helpful in cross-cultural communication situations.

They can translate both the substance and the manner of what is said” (Colorado). Once the training is complete, their personality is totally changed. It has been observed that such employees become so engrossed in the taught accent that even at their homes they prefer speaking that very language.

It is noticeable that in some call centres, the employees are required to converse in the learned accent all the time, whether they are in the office or at home. As such, there is a sort of identity crisis. The employees lose their originality and start behaving like foreigners.

Most of the American companies prefer that their overseas employees should have the neutral accent while conversing with their customers. The word ‘neutral’ means the normal accent of the Americans. The companies don’t want their customers to feel that they are talking to some foreigner. “The foreign agents’ performance in language and explicit manifestations of cultural awareness naturally are in the forefront in defining ‘quality’ in these outsourced call centre interactions” (Friginal).

If the employee speaks in a neutral accent, the customer will be of the opinion that he/she is talking to a Native American. This way, the feeling of ethnicity will not be there and the employee will be able to handle the customer easily. But, “Culture influences the way we see the world. Preconceived notions and stereotyping occur when ‘oversimplified’ characteristics are used to judge a group of people or an individual associated with a group” (Stringer & Cassiday).

References

Colorado. Cross-Cultural Communication Strategies. Web.

Employwise. Cross-Cultural Communication – Training is Key. Web.

Friginal, E. (2009). The Language of Outsourced Call Centres: A corpus-based Study of Cross-Cultural Interactions. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Nadeem, S. (2011). . Web.

Stringer, D., & Cassiday, P. (2009). 52 Activities for Improving Cross-Cultural Communication. Boston, USA: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Walsh, G., Gouthier, M., Gremler, D., Brach, S. (2011). What the eye does not see, the mind cannot reject: Can call centre location explain differences in customer evaluations? Web.

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IvyPanda. "Call Centre Cheat Sheet: Cross-Cultural Communication." February 22, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cross-culture-communication/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Call Centre Cheat Sheet: Cross-Cultural Communication." February 22, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/cross-culture-communication/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Call Centre Cheat Sheet: Cross-Cultural Communication'. 22 February.

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