Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Virtual Relationships

I thought of penning this article down when I thought how different are electronic and real-time relationship building exercises. In fact the internet is the only medium which come closest to connecting, but not always. The smell, voice and the emotions that can be seen and felt when in person are absent online. TV though being electronic and audio visual does not connect, even though there can be a real-time communication. The future they say might be different, but not as of now.

So how can communication practitioners learn from this situation?  In a 1995 essay titled "Speed and Information: Cyberspace Alarm!", the architect and theorist Paul Virilio wrote:

"Cyberspace is a new form of perspective. It does not coincide with the audio-visual perspective which we already know. It is a fully new perspective, free of any previous reference: it is a tactile perspective. To see at a distance, to hear at a distance: that was the essence of the audio-visual perspective of old. But to reach at a distance, to feel at a distance, that amounts to shifting the perspective towards a domain it did not yet encompass: that of contact, of contact-at-a-distance: tele-contact."  Click to read more

For a communicator the challenge is tapping this online space, as it comes closest to real time offline relationships. To connect to some text being typed online with really no person to see. Conversations cannot be done through video, due to logistical issues. Video also comes along with its own limitations such as speed, buffering, broadband technicalities etc depending upon your location.

Engaging the audience and keeping a tab on grievances are two of the biggest works that online communicators have to manage from the client end. There is always that upset or happy customer. Have you experienced that tailor made responses that are sent to us when we call or chat with a customer help of any organisation. "Thank you for calling" or "happy to help" or "Our customer executive will get back to you shortly." etc. And you know it is that machine response which is structured and standard. Very superficial.

In short the challenge for practitioners who are into any form of communication, is always being more humane and less superficial where there is no face to see on either side and yet one has to communicate. Maybe future jobs will demand more communicators in grievances handling online as customers are only going to grow. More the merrier for a growing population.

This in turn may help in relationship building and long term relationship with customers. A theory we keep reading and hardly apply.

What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment