CRM Tool Academy: Google Wave’s Customer Conversations Might — Just Might — Change Everything.

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You may have heard scuttlebutt or rumors about Google Wave. If you’re lucky enough to have had an invitation as part of the extended invite-only roll-out of the past couple weeks, our congratulations.

Ours is, um, still in the mail.

If you are using Wave, let CRM Tool Academy know how you think it’d be useful for CRM. As far as this reporter can see, it might be a good platform for companies who keep yammering on about their “conversation” with the customer to actually have one.

Google Wave is best described as an online conversation participants can enter and leave at will. It’s like a living bulletin board post — instead of writing an e-mail to organize a boat trip, say, and copying and BCCing and replying, a message is posted on Wave and participants added simply by dragging and dropping icons.

In fact, the operative metaphor for Google Wave is “hosted conversation.”

Picture it as a live e-mail message everybody’s writing to each other at the same time, as well as posting pictures and video via drag and drop. Private messages to participants can be sent as well. Long Wave presentation video from Google here:

Participants can add to the conversation, reply to specific items in the message by pointing and clicking, and respond live — one of the cool features is that characters appear in the shared conversation as they’re typed, instead of the ol’ IM tradition of sitting and waiting for someone to finish typing and always being one response behind.

As of Tuesday, according to industry observer Harrison Hoffman, “Google Wave” was the top trending topic on Twitter, and “the eBay economy for Google Wave invites has been pretty healthy, with some fetching upward of $80 to $100,” he records.

It was developed by Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the brains behind Google Maps, and was unveiled at the Google IO/2009 in May. It runs on a Chrome, Safari or Firefox browser and when unveiled in May it required, except in one or two instances where Gears is needed, simply HTML and the Google Web tool kit.

And using the Bloggy feature, the entire conversation, or “wave,” with pictures and video and everything, can be instantly posted as a blog page for all to see, and there people can respond as well — subsequent posts to the blog or wave are cross-posted.

Not everybody’s chuffed: Jason Perlow was invited to the party and pronounced himself “underwhelmed,” saying it “requires quite a bit of understanding of Wikis, revision control and object embedding and linking.” He dismissed it as “Microsoft Bob for a new millennium.” Ouch.

Used correctly it could be a fantastic way for companies to keep customers informed and let them know their opinions really count.

However, as the vast majority of companies are all talk and no action when it comes to “putting the customer first!” or “entering into a conversation with the customer!” one wonders how much of a positive impact it will ultimately have — most companies can’t even get e-mail right, what hope are they going to have with something so much more immediate and less forgiving?

Obviously this reporter needs to see for himself. WHAM! “Oh sorry, did you drop this hint?”

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