Note: This was a short, two post arc for J. Both posts are here
Music, Language and Making Offshore Call Centers More Effective, Part 1
Happy New Year, Everyone.
We spent last night with our neighbors, Gerhardt und Andrea and Andrea’s cousin, Raresh. I made an antipasto (went over very well) and three different kinds of pizza (I’m known throughout the Maritimes, Mississauga, Southern NH and Stoneham, MA, for my pizza). Between the antipasto and the southern red pizza, Raresh mentioned that he played piano, bass and guitar in his church. As we had all three, I invited him to play.
Soon he and Andrea were singing Romanian Christmas carols and Gerhardt was playing along on one of my guitars. It was glorious and reminded me of being back home in Nova Scotia where often people will gather just to play music together (aca Ceilidgh, ans a Gaidhlig). They asked me to join in on the sax but I was busy cooking and besides, why ruin a good thing?
But what really got me was the language “class” between dinner and Andrea’s honey-nut dessert cake.
Raresh’s English wasn’t that good and he didn’t have much German so he and Andrea spoke in Romanian. I listened and kept repeating elements of their conversation (Gonoi! Che? Como? Stan Kastan, kastanka stan (this last is a verse taught to children). Drom!) which got Andrea laughing so hard her face hurt.
At one point Andrea mentioned that she can curse in lots of languages but most either make her laugh or mean nothing to her, just words. But when she curses in Romanian? Oh, she truly feels the import of what she’s saying. I agreed. I can curse in English but it means so much more when I curse in Italian. The others shared similar experiences.
This got me to thinking about where and how the brain stores languages learned later in life, and that the neural wiring for native-languages is more closely tied to our emotional wiring than our higher thought centers.
And that got me to remembering some research which pertains to off-shore call centers and how to make them more effective. (more to follow)
Music, Language and Making Offshore Call Centers More Effective, Part 2
NextStage’s staff sociologist has been involved in a multi-year study of debranding. One element of her research involves people’s interaction with offshore call centers, something I’ve written about in Reading Virtual Minds Volume I: Science and History,Chapter 2, “What This Book Is About”.
A recurring theme in her research has been the customer’s inability to understand the call center personnel’s English due to a non-US accent. This is actually an amazingly simple problem to solve.
All the call center personnel need due to state at the beginning of the call that they know they have an accent and that perhaps they’ll need to repeat things a few times to be clearly understood. Research published in Psychological Science concurs with NextStage’s research on this topic. Several people interviewed in the NextStage study made non-prompted, voluntary comments suggesting that call center personnel who acknowledged their non-US English accents made for more rewarding help desk and call center experiences.
Something to think about, yes?
If there is a challenge to this simple fix, my guess is that it might be a legal one. A company’s personnel openly admitting they are missing or lacking something might open that company to litigation. Fortunately (and if you’re reading my post on building a business) you’re learning that I know nothing about such things. I’d be interested in your thoughts, though. Please feel free to share them with me personally via email or with readers via commenting here, as you’d like.
Posted in 0701, Business, Customer Support, Historical Posts, Language, Misc, Music, Psychoacoustics
Tagged From Jan '07, History