Conversation Analysis Discussions and Their Term Paper

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The main idea in call centers when they use the concept of CA is that, at its core, all the conversation and discussions that take place between the caller and the company respondent can be very easily constructed, referenced and supervised to help the company as well as the caller come to common grounds of mutual understanding. Also, most of the implementers of the CA concept in a call centre can apply the exterior company rules and practices during different phases within the conversation so as to see their influence and whether they can be implemented in the long run for the betterment of both the company and the callers.

Practically, if one needed to prove that the callers are the ones that actually lay down the foundations for the pattern of the conversation, then one can find this proof in the police call centre that is set up for emergency calls (911). The CA setup can help us evaluate the reaction of the individual has towards the situation he/she is in, on what basis has the individual treated or expressed the situation as an emergency, the stress he/she is feeling, the intensity of the situation, the legitimate-significance of the situations, and so on.

There are of course some difficulties that can surface which are probably led by the one significant affair of trying to avoid the enticement of defining the traits of a discussion in an unplanned manner while at the same time preserving the organization of the theoretical and practical influences (Schegloff 1991; Wilson 1991). Schegloff (1991) in his study sheds light on this issue and explains that along with the member's (in our study a caller's) personal input, thoughts, inclinations, etc. The relevance of these within the company's profile have to be identified and added to represent a complete profile of the caller. In other words, if the caller has been exchanging his/her inclinations, viewpoints, assumptions, etc. In a conversation with a corporate respondent then it is the additional task of the respondent to identify and represent that set of context in the conversation that is either directly or indirectly relevant to the company and add that context's relevance to the customer's profile.

The fact of the matter is that while this additional analysis is perhaps a very important facet for the company, it is a really intimidating, difficult and daunting task for the corporate respondent in the call centre. Schegloff explains this under a different light in his study and says that it might be very easy for an analyst to point out that two corporations are very different from each other when it comes to their implementations of rules and regulations, like for instance within a call centre setting. However, Schegloff points out that if these analysts were to be told to point out these differences in a specific set, they would be unable to do so. This is so as the main features of these differences lie in the additional relevance that can be gathered by corporations through their call centre respondents or other channels.

Facets of Conversational Exchanges within a Corporate Call Centre

The facets that can be included in the conversation exchanges are as vast as the elements of conversation can possibly be. However, we have been able to use the guidelines given in the Paltridge report of 2000 and can divide the facets into the following: taking turns, adjacency pairs, preference management, the commencement of a topic of discussion, the progress of the topic of discussion, response, preservation, conversational openers and enders and the normal short terms used in discussions or as responses like "depends," "huh," "ahuh" or "hmm" (Paltridge, 2000).

Taking turns

Cameron explains that a "continual negotiation is a general feature of conversational organization" (Cameron, 2001: 90). To explain this more profoundly, we can look at the study conducted by Sacks in 1974, where he explains that for a conversation to occur, there have to be at least two or more people who have to be willing to engage and interact on a common topic. Of course since a conversation is about expressing views, both the people in the conversation will get a chance to express their point-of-view on a topic. The interesting fact here is that a conversation is an on-going exchange like a see-saw where both the speakers continually exchange their views (Sacks et al., 1974). This can be more clearly explained with the example of a call centre. In a call centre, the person initiating the conversation topic has the upper hand as he/she is the one who can lead or design the pattern of the entire conversation, which normally is the corporate respondent. This is so because the caller will always be the one to respond to the suggestion or opinions voiced by the respondent to the problem voiced by the caller, and hence the corporate respondent can further lead the conversation into areas where the caller's input can benefit the company to understand its market better.

The concept of taking turns was fundamentally laid down by Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson in 1974 under a design that they called "A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-taking for Conversation" (Sacks et al. 1974). Here they basically laid down the idea to allow one person to talk and the other reacting to what they say by waiting for the turn. Furthermore they simultaneously justified how and why taking turns was necessary or helpful in carrying out successful conversation analysis.

There are two main aspects of the taking turn conversation that are highlighted in the Sacks et al. design. These two aspects are: one, turns can be assigned to the different participants in a conversation which will allow the whole discussion to be a lot more calculated and organized (this is usually the case in group therapy sessions); and two, everyone involved in the conversation knows that he/she will have more then one chance to have their turn and get their message across; this of course can help many people to discern when someone's turn is near the end and how they can react to it (this is the reason that the corporate call centre facility is such a success, because both the caller and the respondent know that they will have more then one chance to say what they want irrespective of the time that they get that chance in) (Sacks et al. 1974).

Continuing with the prior thought, it is also very much possible that upon discerning the end of someone's turn, one might intercede the turn in a way that the conversation might be interrupted. However, there has only been a 5% record of such intrusion taking place. This record shows us that even though the speaker waiting for his/her turn might speak near the end of someone's turn, it usually does not interrupt or harm the entire conversation by its interfering nature (Cook, 1989). This is also why we see a new emerging dimension with the CA setup where researchers are beginning to design a model for organizing or supervising interfering comments (Schegloff, 2000, quoted by Heritage, 2003: 5) and are initiating the concept of "collaborative" comments i.e. comments that might intercede one's turn without interfering with the thought, instead intercession is only used as a form of support or confirmation of someone's thought (Heritage, 2003: 5). The concept of collaborative commenting, if incorporated, can a huge success at the corporate call centre facility because it will allow both the respondents and the callers to agree on certain matters without repetition or unnecessary justifications. The normal short terms used in discussions or as responses like "depends," "huh," "ahuh" or "hmm" with the addition of statements like "I agree" or word inputs like "exactly" and "definitely" are usually enough in a call centre setting to create an environment of collaborative conversation and understanding.

Drew and Heritage (1992) in their study highlighted six main elements of a conversation that have been modified below to stand true for a call centre setting precisely. These elements are:

1) the setup or structure of taking turns

2) the design of the conversation or topics in a conversation

3) Management of series or sequence of conversation

4) the plan for taking turns

5) the freedom of the use of words in different contexts

6) Relevance and identification of potential irregularities in a conversation (Drew and Heritage 1992; Drew and Sorjonen 1997; Heritage 1997).

Adjacency pairs

The main idea that the CA setup has about a conversation is that it is a continuous exchange of ideas and opinion that takes place over a certain period of time, has a beneficial or unconstructive aftermath and is interlinked to the very first sentence or statement of the conversation (Cameron, 2001). A good example of this in a call centre setting would be if a customer called with a concern about one of the…[continue]

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