What's going on in the chat flow? A move analysis of e-commerce customer service webchat exchange

Xiaoyu XU, Jane LOCKWOOD

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The business world is fast entering a virtual environment where technology is applied in all areas to improve efficiency. For example, web-based synchronous chat has become a popular way of communication for customer support. However, we note that business managers and customers bemoan the amount of time taken to serve customers via webchat, caused in some part perhaps by the textual route to get to a resolution using this new media. This has received little attention from the research world. We therefore collected 15 customer service webchat exchanges from an international online retail company and explored the challenges by looking at the generic structural moves, their impact on the time to resolution and the linguistic affordances of webchat. It was found that webchat moves highly depend on the type of business, company policies and division of labor in contact centre. Some webchat affordances such as allowing for URLs to lengthy webpages and long lists of instructions can lead to communication breakdowns. The results of this analysis can be a valuable resource for the pre-employment training and coaching of online customer service representatives as well as for business communication courses in higher education where little attention is given to such genre. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-96
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Volume61
Early online dateOct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Citation

Xu, X., & Lockwood, J. (2021). What's going on in the chat flow? A move analysis of e-commerce customer service webchat exchange. English for Specific Purposes, 61, 84-96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esp.2020.09.002

Keywords

  • Webchat interaction
  • Business communication
  • Genre analysis
  • Contact centre
  • Customer service
  • Communication breakdown

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'What's going on in the chat flow? A move analysis of e-commerce customer service webchat exchange'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.