Research Article

Winning the Customers Over and Again: Investigating Discourse Features in Nigeria Banking Interactions


  • Bartholomew Ayeni Department of English, University of Ibadan, UI Road, Ibadan, Oyo, Nigeria


This paper explores the communication strategies employed by service providers in Nigeria banks to gain new and retain their old customers. This is done by looking at the discourse features inherent in banking interactions. The researcher was given the impetus to undertake this study because of the uniqueness exhibited in banking and business discourse. One could easily have drawn a conclusion that, as expected of every business interaction, the banking interaction would be without fuss because of the training employees receive on human relations, but these findings reveal that this is not always the case. However, the fact that employees have more successful interactions is one that cannot be denied, and this success can be attributed to the application of politeness strategies by bank staff. Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory serves as theoretical framework. Eleven texts from bank employee-customers interactions were purposively selected and subjected to content analysis in order to reveal linguistic strategies employed in them. It is realised that bank employees adopt features like inclusion, directness, informality, face saving features like avoidance of questions, politeness markers, hesitation and taciturnity when interacting with customers. It is also observed that bank employees use hesitation mostly to avoid making absolute statements which could affect customers’ negative face. Also, face saving strategies are the most used as employees do everything to save customer from embarrassment and make them feel good. Inclusion strategies by bank employees serve as vital retention device. This affects the choice of code and kinship terms used by bank employees when relating with customers. In the face of the heat with customers, bank employees resort to taciturnity as an avoidance strategy so that they are not held by their words. Politeness markers like ‘please’ are used even where they do not seem necessary and sorry is not commonly used. In all, bank employees’ attempt to treat their customers as kings in line with their training.

Article information


International Journal of English Language Studies

Volume (Issue)

2 (3)





How to Cite

Ayeni, B. . (2020). Winning the Customers Over and Again: Investigating Discourse Features in Nigeria Banking Interactions. International Journal of English Language Studies, 2(3), 45–59.



Politeness,, Face,, Business Discourse,, Banking interactions