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Title: (Im)politeness at a Slovenian call centre
Author: Orthaber, Sara
ISNI:       0000 0004 6350 058X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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The present study examines (im)politeness in technologically mediated interactions between Company representatives and customers, in which customers request information or complain about a service received. The study first explored normative behaviour in requesting information via telephone and email and then looked at deviant cases where following interactional trouble of some sort, the exchanges became unexpectedly inappropriate and thus open to evaluations of impoliteness. The study further examined impoliteness in the way customers communicated their dissatisfaction. Here, the way complaints were articulated and responded was found to vary between telephone and Facebook. On the telephone, face-threatening behaviour was targeted at the institutional agent and the customers appealed to the agent’s sense of fairness. On a public social media Facebook page, administrated by an anonymous representative, the customers attacked the Company’s image. Precisely because of the public nature of the setting, the customers’ flaming behaviour, i.e. aggressive or hostile behaviour, differed from that identified in complaint calls. In other words, aggressive behaviour and humour were seen as devised for different audiences as separate communicative goals, whereby the aggressive behaviour was aimed at the Company whereas other followers are meant to enjoy its humorous potential with the objective of providing support through likes and affiliative comments. It was found that while customers’ complaints rarely triggered remedial actions on the telephone, on Facebook, responses to negative feedback are not normatively required. When responses were provided, various disaffiliating distance strategies were used. Overall, the analysis of complaints has shown that they are managed in a rather non-accountable manner. It further revealed the discrepancy between the infrastructural services and the pseudo-modern image, the Company aims to project. This study provides valuable insights into (im)politeness in customers’ requesting and complaining behaviour in authentic Slovenian institutional interactions, thus contributing to the burgeoning field of (im)politeness research in institutional settings.
Supervisor: Márquez Reiter, Rosina Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available