“Wat vervelend dat de fiets niet is opgeruimd! Heb je een zaaknummer voor mij? ^EK” | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 40, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1573-9775
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1236



The conversational communication style organisations use in webcare is an important factor affecting its success, and is referred to as the Conversational Human Voice (CHV, Kelleher, 2009; Kelleher & Miller, 2006). This communication style reflects attributes such as treating others as humans, using a personal communication style, and being open to dialogue. Although several experimental studies investigated the relation between conversational linguistic elements in webcare messages and perceived CHV (for example Crijns, Cauberghe, Hudders & Claeys, 2017; Huibers & Verhoeven, 2014), there are considerable differences in the type and number of linguistic elements they used. Therefore we developed an instrument based on scientific research to identify conversational linguistic elements reliably. Next, we investigated how often these elements occurred in a corpus of 480 webcare conversations between twenty Dutch municipalities and their citizens, and to what extent they differ in its usage. The results showed that the identification instrument was reliable. Furthermore, municipalities often personalize their webcare responses, but hardly use informal language and invitational rhetoric. Large municipalities, such as Amsterdam and ’s-Hertogenbosch, appeared to be more progressive in applying conversational elements in webcare than medium-sized municipalities, such as Gouda and Deventer.


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