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Over-personal language irritates callers

The over-familiar language used by call centre agents can irritate customers, according to new worldwide research.

A study conducted by Oxford University discovered that call centre agents tend to use an overly personal way of speaking to customers, because they are asked to simulate a personal relationship to make up for the removal of face-to-face interaction.

Problems arise because the communication style taught to call centre operators is the same irrespective of the location and language of the centre and is based on a North American style of familiarity, which may not be accepted in the countries to which it is exported.

Dr Kristina Hultgren, of St Annes College, who conducted the research, said: The problem is that agents are under pressure to process customers as quickly as possible, so they are inclined to opt for ways of creating rapport which can be done speedily.

This tends to be by using the customer’s name as it’s quicker than engaging them in small talk. As a customer, we then have the impression of our name being overused and feel uncomfortable.

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