Steve, over time I think you’re going to see blog search and Web search tools integrated into CRM systems. This will give customer service the tools they need to manage individual issues that bubble on blogs. However, you are right. PR professionals will increasingly need to not only serve as an organization’s mouthpiece (one of them at least), but also its eyes and ears. The best PR pros have done this for years. Blogging just makes it easier to keep our finger on the public pulse.
This is how we operate at CooperKatz. We monitor the blogosphere for all of our clients. If we spot a customer issue, we route it to the right party to manage. Occasionally, we also reach out ourselves to begin the dialogue.
Interesting… so imagine if rather than having to go to companies for service — and waiting on hold and waiting and waiting… — the companies came to us! What a concept.
Think of that world-in-reverse: You post a need online, tagged with a microformat (more on that later), and people find you and bid to solve your problem or sell you their product, selling you with price and also with testaments of trust.
That’s not the world in reverse. That’s the world as it should be: The sellers come to the customers, not the other way around. The customers becomes the marketplace. I like that.