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Handle with care

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DQW Bureau
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I believe that the best possible job is one where work is fun and fun is

work. The use of social networking services to engage customers and prospects

being seriously considered by companies of all sizes, is a clear step in this

direction. Market research firm Datamonitor reports that so far this emerging

channel of communication has been used for marketing. But there are smarter ones

that are experimenting services beyond selling.

I see some great advantages, if social networks continue to thrive, and play

a role in business. For instance, if a product or service is good, immediately

all the people in the network get to know. And many of them take peer advice as

genuine, and go for it. On the other hand, a dissatisfied consumer can make all

the network members very wary. Though the social network allows companies to

reach out to its members to explain and sort out the matter, the phenomenon does

put a lot more and a new type of pressure on companies to pull up their act on

all fronts.

What should not be ignored here is that besides the bouquets or the

brickbats, companies can also get a lot of constructive feedback through these

sites. These could be related to so many other things in an organization

including its people and processes.

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A passing remark that one often hears is that the consumers have to finally

pay for all the advertisements that we see in the newspapers and on television.

So there is a possibility that ad spend could come down if social networks take

off in a big way. Though unlikely in the short term, many companies could stand

up and actively promote and support these networks, and explore diverting funds

to enhance customer delight with better product and service rather than

marketing campaigns. Obviously, it will be upon these network leaders to ensure

that they do not succumb to corporate pressure.

Social networks will also push globalization and mobility in a big way. Only

a social network of trekkers can convince and motivate a member in Chicago about

a great trek in the mountains near Ranikhet. And if that member happens to be in

Singapore that day, heading for India the following week, he could very well use

his cellphone or laptop to register himself for the weekend trek.

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It might be still too early to comment on how great these online social

networks are for serving business objectives. And that many companies are now

hiring customer interaction technology providers, and integrating this into

their contact centers.

One hopes that these social networks will not allow themselves to be misused,

and in the process lose all credibility. That will be suicidal. For those who

want to use these sites to do better business, it is important that these groups

thrive, and do what they had originally set out to do.

Ibrahim ahmad


ibrahima@cybermedia.co.in

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