Re-conceptualising call-centres as sites of control: the insider perspective

Edward Kasabov, Anna C.C.C. da Cunha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


– The role of call-centres during service recovery has attracted much attention in research. However, marketers know less about controlling customers during recovery interactions and consequences of such control. In order to address this gap and empirically ascertain whether service interactions are marked by customer centricity or by employees exerting control over customers, the aim of the authors was to organise an empirical research in two Brazilian call-centres.

– The research consisted of direct, open observation and 33 semi-structured interviews with insiders (call-centre managers, supervisors and operatives).

– Four key findings emerged during interviews with insiders. First, control over customers may be more widely practiced than assumed in certain sections of marketing academe. Second, such control is viewed positively by call-centre insiders and is sanctioned by management. Third, control does not disempower and demoralise call-centre staff but protects operatives. Finally, control does not seem to unavoidably generate lasting customer dissatisfaction. These findings are incorporated in a framework of call-centre management which incorporates control through scripting.

Research limitations/implications
– The discussion calls for the revisit of certain marketing concepts and philosophies, including customer orientation, by demonstrating that control over customers is practised and should not be viewed negatively or avoided altogether in practice and as a topic of analysis. A re-conceptualisation of call-centres as sites of control over customers is proposed.

– Control and power are rarely analysed in services marketing. This is one of a few studies that makes sense of providers' (insiders') viewpoints and argues that control may play a constructive role and should be seen as a legitimate topic of services and call-centre analysis. As such it addresses a question of intellectual and practical importance which is rarely discussed and may be viewed as incongruous with an age when customers are assumed to have rights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-46
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number1/2
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


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