Are we really related?

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 6 June 2008



Schwartz, D.G. (2008), "Are we really related?", Internet Research, Vol. 18 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Are we really related?

Article Type: Editorial From: Internet Research, Volume 18, Issue 3.

You can choose your friends, but not your family nor your customers.

Most organizations do not have the luxury of choosing their customers. Like brothers and sisters, customers are born into the organizational fabric and a relationship must be developed despite whatever differences in personalities, preferences, and proclivities may exist. The relationships between an organization and its customers, like those of family members, thus become some of the most contentious and critical to be faced. These relationships must be understood and nurtured. In this issue of Internet Research a number of articles look at different aspects of the online customer relationship.

We begin with a look at how different tools may enable us to better develop and support those relationships. In “The effectiveness of online customer relations tools: comparing the perspectives of organizations and customers”, Fink et al. show us that the choice of an online relationship tool must take into account the different perspectives of its users. The authors find that, just as one might expect with family, a lot can be resolved if we focus on an alignment of attitudes and perspectives, and on relationships rather than merely transactions.

People like to talk especially at those family get-togethers. But who do we believe and why? Talking about our customer experience may become almost as popular as talking about each other. Cheung et al. in “The impact of electronic word-of-mouth: the adoption of online opinions in online customer communities”, delve into this new world of online gossip. They develop an information adoption model to examine the factors affecting how opinion seekers choose who to believe in online customer communities.

Families grow, and at any given time there are more and less experienced members, infants, octogenarians, and everyone in between. How does customer behaviour evolve alongside changes in experience and across generations? This is the question addressed by Hernández-Ortega et al. in “Differences between potential, new and experienced e-customers: analysis of e-purchasing behaviour”. They find significant behavioural changes throughout the customer lifecycle leading to some very practical implications as to how organizations should differentiate their online treatment of customers as experience grows.

Also in this issue, Srisuwan and Barnes present a case study of “Predicting online channel use for an online and print magazine” and demonstrate the importance of linking online and offline marketing strategies. Chen and Corkindale take a fresh look at what drives users to online news services in an exploratory study entitled “Towards an understanding of the behavioral intention to use online news services”. In “Customer satisfaction factors of mobile commerce in Korea”, Choi et al. show us how the growing mobile commerce market must consider many factors that differ from those of classic stationary e-commerce. Finally, with a more technical bent, Davison et al. attack the problem of integrating search across multiple information networks. In “Connecting P2P to the web: lessons from a prototype Gnutella-WWW Gateway”, they develop an architecture and gateway solution enabling the seamless flow of search data between peer-to-peer and server-based networks. While their example is specific to Gnutella, the principles discussed have implications for a wide range of P2P environments.

Both family and customers are thrust upon us with their distinct challenges, opportunities, and rewards. With the correct online tools, reliable word-of mouth, and finely tuned lifecycle strategies, managing online customer relationships can become the most effective and important of organizational activities. Yet the online customer relationship will never reach that high point of family relationships. No matter how good the technology becomes, you never actually get to go to that picnic in the park together.

David G. Schwartz

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