Symposium: Language in Webcare-Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Ghent University, Belgium

22-23 November 2018


Sofie Decock, Bernard De Clerck, Rebecca Van Herck (Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication)

Bart Larivière (Department of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Service Management)


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-of-mouth 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), 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 intention of nursing customer relationships and monitoring reputation management (Van Noort and 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 lacking (Lee and Song 2010) or proves to be somewhat contradictory. As organizers of this symposium, we 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. We invite papers focusing on consumer reviews, complaints, webcare and/or crisis communication from different theoretical and methodological perspectives.

We kindly invite proposals for paper presentations (abstracts of max. 400 words excluding references), written in English, to be sent in PDF format to Deadline for receipt of abstracts is April 15, 2018. Notifications of acceptance will be communicated by May 15, 2018.

For further information please contact, and/or


We invited five speakers with an expertise in discourse- and communication-related approaches to online consumer complaints, reviews, and webcare:

  • Camilla Vasquez (University of South Florida)
  • Valerie Creelman (Saint Mary’s University)
  • Guda Van Noort (University of Amsterdam)
  • Rob Le Pair (Radboud University Nijmegen)
  • An-Sofie Claeys (University of Leuven).


We ask scholars attending the conference (except for BA and MA students) to pay a registration fee of 100€ (excluding dinner on November 22).