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Future Sales Reps Might Not "Like" This

Have you ever wondered how many other customers like the same shirt? Well, at Brazilian retailer C And A the hangers are tallying customer "likes" in real time for all to see. Glimpse the future, folks.

As VentureBeat.com reports:

The store, C [And] A, is putting "real-time Likes" counters on its hangers in retail locations around Brazil. The Like data is taken from C [And] A's Facebook page, where the company has listed its various wares for people to interact with. When a person Likes an item, that Like shows up on the hanger. It is meant to help customers with purchasing decisions. If they are unsure of one item, they can see how many people online think the product is a good buy.

The workplace blogger in me takes it to the next logical step: Being able to rate individual employees, in real time, on their service, skills and abilities, all by using Facebook's digital thumb. After all, if the "like" button can help customers make better buying decisions, then why can't it help the average manager make better managing decisions?

Just think about the treasure trove of information that would be available suddenly to the average sales or customer service manager if customers were able to "like" specific employees in the moment. One can almost hear the future self-talk happening in the average manager's brain. Wow, Jane in outside sales has 34 likes so far today, while her co-worker Dave has a piddly 12. He had 47 likes by this time yesterday. Hmm. I'd better talk to Dave right away to see what's going on with him today.

Will this conversation be coming soon to a cubicle near you? It's still largely a hypothetical, but it doesn't really seem all that far-fetched when you think about it. I mean, what kind of metrics-conscious customer service or outside sales manager wouldn't love themselves some instant-time likability analysis? Thumb's up to that! Forget old-fashioned, long-form customer surveys; that's sooooo last century.

Of course, managers would have to ponder the downsides of customers suddenly being able to "like" individual employees in real time. Specifically, how employees might start to compete against each other for "likes" in new and underhanded ways; how "likes" would be factored into individual performance reviews; how crafty customers might use "likes" to wheedle better deals out of individual employees; how many "likes" would be doled out based on an employee's personal appearance (e.g., "she's hot") instead of actual skills; and how management would keep morale up and employee stress levels down amid this extra level of instant replay.

Also, would managers get -- please pardon the expression -- hung up on quantity over quality? And would anxious employees come to hate the employee who consistently gets the most "likes," when they're not obsessing over how many customers will still love them tomorrow? Cue the Carole King song and pour yourself a glass of red, my customer service and sales friends. You may end up wanting to give a middle finger instead.

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