Communication is a basic need, so why not feed that need?

In 1998, an article in the Harvard Business Review stated that ”customer satisfaction rates in the U.S. are at an all time low”. It would certainly be depressing if all we have accomplished since the 1982 publication of Peters and Waterman’s, ”In Search of Excellence” was the addition of a customer service customer satisfaction statement in the mission statements of our Fortune 500 companies. Five years ago we would have been pleased to state that customer satisfaction was being discussed in the boardrooms and had a chance to become a part of a business strategy. Now this is not enough. Delighting the customer must be a focal strategy. Every business, every executive, and every manager must assess how their ”domain ” contributes to customer value.

Shares in leading network equipment makers fell gain, as it became increasingly apparent the gloomier economic outlook would force enterprise and telecom customers to defer capital spending projects. The decline in sector shares followed a series of bearish analyst reports. The 20th century of Looking Inside Out is over. Each human has needs, to be fed sooner or later. Normally, the needs and feeds cycle looks like a mobile perpetual, but in human life there are events that change the needs, and also the feeds. It is important to understand the wishes of the individual customer and to fulfill them the moment they arise. Every moment in the daily life of an individual can be a possible Customer Event. In order to seize these opportunities, we have to identify the changing needs of the individual customer and to respond effectively to these Customer Events.

As a result, successful organizations change their perspective on service and customer care: they set a new standard for success, using every customer contact at all customer touch points to extend business. Each customer-respecting organization has to identify and manage significant customer events and matches those events to your products and services. The casual CRM-applications should implement and incorporate the sequences of lifestyles in the lifecycle of each of your customers. If you’re not able to do that, please ask for help your organization to define and implement solutions to deliver these products and services to the customer.

Digital communication

Digital communication contains the same important basic procedures of signal transmission in the inter- and intracellular information transfer. Lasswell split up the communication problems in five main questions: who? Says what? How? To whom? And with what effect? Because mind reading isn’t a standard issue, Shannon contributes to this model with coding and decoding. Translating thoughts to words is called coding. Transforming characters to thoughts is decoding. When people are in contact, they constantly code and decode their thoughts to digital characters. After receiving and decoding new information, the receiver will try to interpret the new information. As extra in this extended communication model Lasswell positions noise and interpretation. Due to coding the regular communication (including written language) is getting standardized. So, a new possibility is available: filtering and triggering of the communication. Al those noise, filtering and misinterpretation by translation make it sometimes difficult to communicate via electronic way. There is a mismatch between what the sender wants to communicate (and what the receiver does not receive) and what the sender unintentional communicates (what the receiver receives).

Communication is between people, but to-day's telecommunication separates people more than it connects.

Digitalizing the media makes it possible for the consumer to control. You can make your own play list of the tracks of music and film, you can read the hypertext and you can ignore automatically specific messages, sounds, images (like ad’s). Digital communication makes it really easy to use filters and triggers to control your personal communication and to tune your communication to weighted combinations of your identity, your message (contains content and medium), time (priority, synchrony and actuality) and environment (context, activity, authority and intimacy). Let’s sniff a little theory of communication:

A message contains:
- information,
- interpretation,
- meaning and
- the symbolic activity between communication partners.

In a communication contact is a message:
- content,
- medium,
- time,

and contains the content of the message usually:
- facts (objective);
- meanings (subjective);
- feelings (expressions of a state of mind and mood).

The quality of the contact depends of the way of communicating. In analogue communication that happens at three levels:
- aware (thinking);
- less aware (feelings);
- unaware (will).

Digital communication polarises more to awareness and unawareness, and supplies the level of
- unaware (unwillingness).
- This unaware communication with unwillingness happens when music or films are containing separate frames with other information to trigger the unaware of the receiver.
Other side of the medal is that people can use electronic filters and blocking to ignore the unwished information.

Aspects of communication by digital media

According to Schultz von Thun’s (1981) model of communication, a message is composed of four elements: content, appeal, self-revelation and the relation between the actors. In spite of the lack of visual and sensitive contact, most of young chatters are able to describe the expression “Communication“ and to differentiate it from close related expressions like “information“, “interaction“ and “perception“. They don’t know the theoretic methods and definitions, but are able to enumerate differences between pure signal transmission and interpersonal communication. By its meaning for interpersonal communication the importance of different communication forms and channels will be clear in the flow of communication and interaction in role-plays.

When the receiver is free to choice which information of a message “arrives” to decode, this could lead to disturbing the communication because the receiver don’t react to a specific intended aspect of the message, or – more irritating - when the receiver takes only the information (s)he likes, and does not react to the message itself.

Effective and poor communication via digital media

Language influences our behaviour and creates cognitive categories. At the same time, language is determined by the society it is used within. This interdependence of society and language creates the world we live in and the world we enter by cyberspace. Problems that may occur by coming up against the limiting factors of such a system are presented in some theory how communication is influenced.

The main influences from psychosocial context, ethnic and gender background on the digital interaction are:
- Communication: nonverbal (including autonomous functions and aspects), verbal (linguistic), para-verbal (loudness, emphasis etc.) contents, information and interaction concerning structure, generation, direction. (paradox communication: mismatch between aspects of content and relation)
- Interaction and information: Mutual contact, coding and decoding.
- Models: Sender (coding), receiver (decoding), semiotics of communication, language, structure and syntax. Content, message, information, self-disclosure: information about sender (voluntary/involuntary), feedback of receiver to sender, differences between dyadic and group-interaction.
- Perception: selection, weighing, distortion, perception errors, modification following needs, social context and roles.
- Relationship: between sender and receiver, transmission predominantly through non-verbal communication. Neglect of information enhancing dissonance, repression, provocation of receiver to a certain reaction, appeals, emotional influence.

When we project the model of Schulz von Thun to the digital communication, the model gets a different application by the often restricted and disturbed way of that digital communication. Restricting and disturbing possibilities are:
1. Restriction in the content of the message (e.g. the amount or type of characters);
2. Restriction in the transmission of the message (e.g. IP-address-blocking);
3. Disturbing the transmission of the message (e.g. bad performance of the network);
4. Disturbing the reception of the message (mismatch of spam filter or undecoding);
5. Disturbing by interactive interchange of messages (combination of 1-4 on both ways of transmission).

We have more digital identities

How long will it take till we download our brain into an electronic storage, till we use a body area network (BAN) with sensors, actuators and where a transmitter/receiver enables continue contacts with the environment where a personal area network (PAN) connects us to a local area network (LAN)…. Quote Prof. Theo Bemelmans 2004. Who or what is communicating? Do we communicate? Or do we have more digital identities, which are communicating for us? That's the thesis I handle in my research.