Interactions at a reprographics store


Vinkhuyzen, E. Interactions at a reprographics store. Chapter in Making work visible: ethnographically grounded case studies of work practice, edited by Margaret H. Szymanski and Jack Whalen. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; 2011; 205-224.


This chapter describes a three-year ethnographic study of a reprographics store that was conducted with the goal of improving customer service. The data was collected in three phases. First, the research team made ethnographic observations, shadowing and interviewing employees as they worked. In the second phase, the team made extensive video recordings in the store; more than one hundred hours of interaction were collected in several different sessions (over 400 hours of video data from multiple simultaneously recording cameras). These recordings were digitized and divided into distinct episodes, consisting of more than 500 customer-employee interactions, some of which were transcribed and analyzed. Finally, three members of the research team became participant observers in the stores, working as employees, serving customers and operating the printing and copying equipment. This study resulted in the development of a customer service skill set (CSSS), a set of web-based instructional modules designed to raise employees’ awareness of the organization of customer-employee interactions such as the initial order-taking or the pick-up of the completed order; CSSS modules were co-developed by the research team and a small group of store employees who participated on a learning design team meeting once a week for two months.

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