How can I help you? User instructions in telephone calls

M.F. Steehouder, Daniel Hartman

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

4 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


We a small corpus of instructions given in phone calls to customers who need support for programming their universal remote control, to make it suitable for their particular TV set VCR, Audio, etc. Typically, in these calls the operator or 'agent' coaches the client while the client is performing actions with the equipment (turning it on, pressing buttons and codes, directing it towards the TV, etc.). We compared these oral instructions with the concept of a 'streamlined step procedure' (Farkas, 1999) and other principles that are well-known from the literature about written instructions. Our conclusion is that many problems arise because the operator does not provide 'meta-communication' about the goals that have to be achieved, and because the feedback given by the client is neglected or misinterpreted.
Original languageUndefined
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventIEEE International Professional Communication Conference, IPCC 2003 - Orlando, United States
Duration: 21 Sep 200324 Sep 2003


ConferenceIEEE International Professional Communication Conference, IPCC 2003
CountryUnited States


  • IR-55837

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