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Call for papers

With the rise of digital business communication, end-users of products and services can now easily communicate positive and negative feedback to other customers and organizations on social networking and (micro)blogging sites, the sheer amount of which is hard for corporations to monitor, let alone respond to. As negative word-ofmouth on both the issue at hand and the way it has been tackled may have detrimental consequences in terms of reputation and sales (Luo, 2009; Sparks et al., 2016), organizations now have to access these social platforms as well and engage in a very delicate type of online service encounter (i.e., webcare) with the prime intentions of fostering customer relationships and monitoring reputation management (Van Noort & Willemsen, 2011). The success of this type of interaction depends on many different aspects, including the linguistic realization of both the original message by the customer and the ensuing webcare itself. However, context-specific knowledge on what constitutes the most appropriate, effective communicative strategies during critical moments - both from the customers' and the companies' perspective - is still needed (Darics, 2015; Darics & Koller, 2018; Lee & Song 2010). In this regard, this relatively new field has three specific challenges and opportunities. First, in the last decade, digital business communication became increasingly multilingual. Consumers and service providers interact online in a multiplicity of languages, often revealing different discursive habits and preferences depending on their linguacultural background (Cenni & Goethals, 2021). Therefore we believe it is important to take into account the cross-linguistic and cross-cultural dimensions of webcare, especially in a hospitality context (e.g., on Tripadvisor & Booking.com). We especially look for contributions on (but not limited to) business discourse focusing on languages other than English and/or adopting a comparative perspective. Second, the field of webcare could benefit from recent technological advancements, such as AI and the use of chatbots. For example, artificial intelligence could be used to automatically collect large corpora and analyse these with machine learning tools to detect yet unknown language variation patterns (e.g., Vermeer et al., 2019). Finally, we, as organizers of this symposium, believe that research into the communicative challenges of digital business communication would greatly benefit from an interdisciplinary approach, combining theories and methods from linguistics, service-oriented marketing, and public relations (see also Holmqvist et al., 2017; Carnevale et al., 2017). Therefore, this symposium aims to bring together scholars in language, communication, and marketing studies who all share an interest in the linguistic and communicative intricacies of online service management. With this theme in mind, we would like to invite submissions that focus on (responses to) consumer reviews and complaints, webcare and/or online crisis communication from different theoretical and methodological perspectives.


We kindly invite abstracts for a 20-minute presentation + a 10-minute discussion (abstracts of max. 400 words excluding references), written in English, to be sent in Word-format to rebecca.vanherck@ru.nl (please use the e-mail subject 'Language in webcare: Abstract submission'). Deadline for receipt of abstracts is January 15, 2023. You will receive a notification of acceptance by February 15, 2023.