Are you being served? 能為您效勞嗎?

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Image caption Facebook and Twitter are popular social media platforms

Vocabulary:shopping 詞匯: 購物

Social media is changing everything in trade. Even reserved Britons are losing their traditional aversion to making a scene, and using social media to complain about bad service provided by businesses.

That's what a survey by the Institute of Customer Service suggests. They analysed data from 200 organisations, including banks, utility companies and retailers and have concluded that customers now expect 'dialogue, not monologue' from companies.

If a shop assistant was rude and the price a rip-off, the unhappy customer - especially the young one - will take to microblog sites to slag off that company.

The trend has increased over the last few years. Thomas Brown, of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, observed in an interview that big companies had previously enjoyed a "controlled" conversation with customers via advertising - and for a long time, unhappy customers could only express themselves through letters or calling a customer relations team. But with the internet, it's a whole new ballgame: which company can control online chat?

Brown continues: "Now there's a risk that you could have a groundswell of customers talking to each other and, from the brand's perspective, it can get out of hand very quickly."

Brown warns that there's a concern by businesses about the time and resources it takes them to properly manage social media. Big organisations which aren't monitoring it 24 hours a day could log off at the end of the trade day, only to log in the next morning to find that momentum has gathered behind a certain issue.

But it's not all doom and gloom for businesses in this new era of intense connectivity. The old word of mouth recommendation has a new platform too. Perhaps it's more true today than ever before: a satisfied customer is a company's best advert.

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