By Kim Harrison[50]

As social media usage becomes more widespread, consumers are using it to share their personal experiences of customer service and purchasing processes. This is among the initial findings of a new Society for New Communications Research study, “Exploring the link between customer care and brand reputation in the age of social media.”

Around 300 consumers who are active Internet users participated in a survey focusing on how customer service influences brand reputation as evidenced in social media. Top findings include:

• 59% of respondents used social media to ‘vent’ about a customer service experience.

• 72% of respondents researched at least sometimes companies’ customer service policies online prior to purchasing products and services.

• 84% of respondents considered the quality of customer service at least sometimes in their decision to do business with a company.

• 74% chose companies/brands based on others’ customer service experiences shared online.

• 84% of respondents considered at least sometimes the quality of customer service in their decision to do business with a company.

• 81% believed that blogs, online rating systems and discussion forums can give consumers a greater voice in customer service, but less than 33% believed that businesses take customers’ opinions seriously.

“This study indicates that there is a growing group of highly desirable consumers using social media to research companies: 25-55 years old, university-educated, earning more than $100,000. They are a very powerful group in terms of buying behavior,” said Dr Ganim Barnes, senior fellow at the Society for New Communications Research.

“These most savvy and sought-after consumers will not support companies with poor customer care reputations, and they will talk about all of this openly with others via multiple online vehicles. This research should serve as a wake-up call to companies to listen, respond, and improve.”

“Our mission is to help organizations better support, communicate with, and understand their customers during customer care interactions. As this research highlights, the consumer’s voice is louder and travels further than ever before. One poor customer interaction can have a very significant impact on a public impression of a brand.”


By Marie-Odile Taillard[51]

Two of the goals of human communication are: to be understood and to be believed. In persuasive communication, both of these acts are fulfilled. Pragmatists have investigated the first goal and how it is carried out, while social psychologists have focused on the second goal. This paper attempts to shed new light on persuasion by reviewing work from both fields and sketching the outline of a model integrating such work. Relevance theory bridges communication and cognition and, as such, provides a solid foundation for further research on persuasion. Marketing communication offers a rich domain of investigation for this endeavor: we show that pragmatics can only benefit from an analysis of persuasive communication in an “optimized” context such as marketing.

One of our goals, when we communicate, is to be understood. Another goal is to be believed: we try to affect our audiences’ beliefs, desires and actions. Persuasion is the communicative act that carries out both these goals – an audience that has been persuaded has understood an utterance, and believed its message1. Accounting for the understanding aspect has typically been the work of pragmatic theorists, while explaining how attitudes change has been the focus of social psychologists. A plausible study of persuasion must bring the two fields together. Both disciplines have so far fallen short of providing satisfactory models of persuasion because they have failed totake each other’s work into account.

Persuading someone is performing an act (roughly, that of affecting someone’s beliefs or desires) using some form of communication, usually language. As such, persuasion constitutes a “speech act,” an act performed in, or by speaking. The notion of speech act and the theory that was developed around it were first introduced by J.L. Austin in his William James Lectures at Harvard in 1955, and published in 1962 in his How To Do Things With Words. The verb “to persuade” is typically given as one of the first examples of perlocution by speech act theorists. Indeed, Austin (1962), when he develops speech act theory and introduces the term “perlocutionary act”, uses the utterance “He persuaded me to shoot her” as his first example (Austin 1962: 102).

Perlocutionary acts are the third in Austin’s tri-partite nomenclature of speech acts. After locutionary acts, which are simply “saying something,” and illocutionary acts, which are performed “in saying something,” perlocutionary acts are performed “by saying something”.

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