The voice-to-technology (V2T) encounter and the call centre servicescape: Navigation, spatiality and movement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Because the voice-to-technology (V2T) encounter remains under-theorised, the purpose of this paper is to overcome this gap by investigating customers use of the interactive voice response (IVR) system and "the customer journey" through the call centre service system. Design/methodology/approach: From an interpretive study of a UK call centre, the metaphorical aspects of language used to represent the service process are analysed, accompanied by an examination of how the servicescape dimensions of spatial layout and signs are constituted in the call centre service process, and the resulting implications for virtual-aural navigation. Findings: Despite no physical movement, customers represent their experience of navigating "through" the service process in spatial terms. Therefore, understanding precisely how servicescape dimensions are reconfigured within the virtual-aural setting of the call centre is necessary to appreciate customer experience of V2T but also voice-to-voice (V2V) encounters. The call centre servicescape lacks a spatial representation of layout and signs that would conventionally support navigation and purposeful movement. Research limitations/implications: Despite observing live calls, direct interaction with customers was not possible. The paper was based upon a single case study, and the hermeneutic focus on understanding and meaning meant that the study did not emphasise the quantification of phenomenon. Therefore, further research on virtual navigation is required. Practical implications: Problematic V2T encounters compromise the quality and efficiency of service provision. A visual representation of the IVR system may possibly support V2T encounters, while encouraging customer service advisors to act as "guides" during V2V encounters may reduce problems emerging from V2T encounters. Originality/value: First, an original theorisation of the customer experience of the V2T encounter is provided through the theoretical notion of spatialisation metaphors. Second, a preliminary conceptualisation of the call centre servicescape is developed, which shows how spatial layout and signs are reconfigured and represented in this virtual-aural setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-368
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Service Management
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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