Discourse Strategies in Technical-support Interactions
This study responds to the lack of research on the discourse of technical-support interactions. Researchers have explored successful practices for recruiting technical-support personnel, constructs for determining user satisfaction in survey instruments, and discourse moments of miscommunication and empathy. Even though organizations must maintain users by successfully training technical-support providers to interact with users, no empirical study exists that explores the discourse strategies these workers can employ in the process of defining and resolving technical problems during that interaction. In this study, I examine 20 helpdesk interactions between users and technical-support providers in an educational technology helpdesk at a four-year university in the Midwest United States. Using discourse analysis to explore speech acts at both macro- and microlevels, I provide a comprehensive overview of the discourse in these interactions, helping organizations to maintain users by providing concrete, data-driven discourse strategies that technical-support providers can use in their service to users as they define and resolve technical problems during this important service interaction.