Ten years ago, the term ‘webcare’ didn’t even exist. Nowadays, everybody knows ‘webcare’ is the online communication of organizations to stakeholder messages, mostly through social media. Practically every large organization has a webcare team or department, where people are monitoring the web (whom are talking in which sentiment about our organization/products/services?) and responding to those questions, complaints and compliments. One of the main goals of webcare is damage control: to prevent an issue leads to an organizational crisis or to (try to) keep the consequences of a crisis under control. Other webcare goals are to strengthen the company’s reputation, build a band with (potential) customers and to engage in conversations. Providing customer service is a function of webcare as well.
Managing webcare is a continuous process of monitoring online messages from stakeholders (electronic word-of-mouth), responding to those messages and measuring the effects of such interventions. Webcare has become more and more a topic of interest in scientific research. There have been a number of experimental studies in which the effects of specific webcare interventions are examined. But it is still unclear which determinants play a role in this process and which (psychological, linguistic, interpersonal) theoretical models can be related to the phenomenon of webcare.
In this course, the webcare environment will be explored on the basis of scientific literature, case studies and assignments.
Type of exams:
written exam (50%), group assignment (40%), group presentations (10%).
During this course, we expect an active, critical and creative attitude from the student. Students gain insights in webcare theory and practice on the basis of 25 to 30 scientific articles. To be well prepared for the meetings, students should read the literature. To motivate the reading behaviour, students hand in weekly reading reports (in-depth questions about an article to foster the understanding about it).
As a part of the interactive seminars, each seminar consists of discussions about recent developments in the field of eWOM and webcare. These trends and developments will be discussed and these discussions will be led by a group of students (3 or 4 persons). Each discussion takes about 20 minutes. The discussion will be graded (group presentation).
In the large group assignment, students conduct a content analysis on eWOM messages and webcare responses for a specific case from practice. Based on the findings, students write a research report including an advice to improve the company’s webcare strategy.