In business, communication matters. Marketing researchers have moved from what they call 'transaction-oriented models' of service provider - customer interaction, to one that focuses on relationships (Gronroos, 1993). The nature of the communication sets up a temporary relationship that leaves the customer with an impression of the quality of the service, which impacts directly on whether they will buy, and crucially, whether or not brand loyalty is established (Keaveney, 1995).
If the customer is to leave with a sense of having been served well, communication must be clear, and any transactions effected swiftly. But there is a tension between effectiveness and personalization. This is where training and assessment come in - to ensure that the call centre staff are maximizing the key element of 'rapport' between the operator and the customer (Gremler and Gwinner, 2000).
It is essential that accents and prounciation do not impact upon intelligibility, grammar is accurate, and questioning clear. Culturally appropriate talk is necessary to build rapport when necessary. On the right is a link to a video produced by Journeyman Pictures on YouTube. It is 15 minutes in length and explains the massive growth in outsourced call centre activity, its value to the global economy, and the lengths that people to go to ensure that call centre operators can communicate effectively with customers.
Miscommunication in this context quickly leads to customer frustration, and the telephone being slammed down in exasperation. This is especially the case when we feel that the person we're talking too is probably in another country and doesn't possess the local knowledge they need to process our enquiry.
This is a spoof video that packs many of the things that can go wrong into a very short sketch. The customer gets very heated, and the operator just doesn't have the language or pragmatic skills to deal with the situation. Questioning technique is poor, and the operator talks too much, not really listening to the customer's problem. Employers wish to hire staff who can build up customer loyalty to their brand. Putting appropriate assessment procedures in place therefore helps to achieve a company's strategic goals.
- What would be the main advantages to employers in testing the communication skills of call centre operators?
- Make a list of the kinds of miscommunication that can occur in telephone-based service encounters.
- What might you wish to assess, if you were asked to create a test for use to recruit staff to a call centre?
- Look at the tests of call centre communication (links below). What are the key features of these tests? What evidence is presented to suggest that a particular test is useful for the intended decision?
- Look at the links on the right side of this web page. Choose one that looks interesting to you. What issues does it raise for the training and testing of call centre personnel?
- Open your favourite search engine and type in 'call centre training courses'. Select one course. Who is the course targetted at? Do you think it would meet their needs? If the learners are assessed, how are they assessed?
Latest Call Centre Links
Language Assessment for Call Centres
20 Jun, 2016
Language Assessment for Call Centres ... We train Call Center Agents, Maritime and Seafarers, ... Versant for Call Centres; eSkill Call Center Tests;
Pearson - Versant spoken language tests, patented speech ...
18 Jun, 2016
... reliable spoken and written language ... As the leading test of spoken and written language, Versant ... Versant is also a recognized leader in the call center ...
Language Assessment - Call Center, BPO Support
17 Jun, 2016
... with Versant's accurate language assessment tools. For call ... call center industry, effective spoken and written ... Assessment for Call Center Agents.
The CALL Centre (Communication Aids for Language and Learning)
17 Jun, 2016
The CALL Centre provides specialist expertise in technology for children who have speech, communication and/or writing difficulties, in schools across Scotland
nyelpc - New York English Language Proficiency Center
15 Jun, 2016
NYELPC provides skills training for English as a Second Language (ESL) on-site, off-site and on-line. We train Call Center Agents, Maritime and Seafarers, and conduct ...
Automated voice assessment for call center agents - Spoken
12 Jun, 2016
Automated Voice Assessment At last, an efficient way to evaluate the suitability of a potential agent's pronunciation and speaking voice. Spoken's AutoAssess ...
AUTOMATIC EVALUATION OF SPOKEN ENGLISH FLUENCY
11 Jun, 2016
AUTOMATIC EVALUATION OF SPOKEN ENGLISH ... Spoken English ?uency is an important skill a call center agent in ... call center candidates. These assessments were ...
Sensei: Spoken language assessment for call center agents ...
8 Jun, 2016
In this paper, we present a system, called Sensei, for assessment of spoken English skills of call center agents. Sensei evaluates multiple parameters of spoken ...