How Customer Service Representatives Lose Control Of The Call: A Metafunctional Analysis

Document Type


Publication Date



The contact centre industry has been growing rapidly in the Philippines over the last two decades and now boasts over one million customer service representatives (CSRs). Outsourcing work to this destination, where English may not be the first language, can lead to communication difficulties. Problems of locally recruited CSRs ‘losing control of the call’, leading to customer frustration and poor feedback, have previously been attributed to poor grammar and incomprehensible accents. However, more recent research has suggested that such communicative problems actually stem from a more general inability to build relationships and appropriately select, explain and describe information about the product or service and, if needed, instruct the client on what to do. This paper therefore examines ‘losing control of a call’ in terms of the overall exchange. Specifically, two calls were examined to analyse how information was organised, packaged and developed to the satisfaction (or not) of the client. We argue that discrete grammatical inaccuracies and regional accents do not result in losing control as much as the way overall meaning is managed by the CSR. The implications of these initial findings could be of importance to the recruitment, training, coaching and appraisal of CSRs in an industry where the nature of communication breakdown remains poorly understood.