Originally Published: June 6, 2006 4 a.m.
Today, we are living in the age where the Internet seems to offer limitless opportunities to businesses across America.
The advent of e-mail has revolutionized the way we communicate, but it seems that some employees are forgetting the advice that millions of mothers used to say: "If you've got nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all."
The fact that some employees are rude and unprofessional to clients, and companies their employers do business with, is a new threat to the business world. That's just part of the reason why many large American companies are hiring people to snoop through their employees' e-mail accounts, according to a recent Washington Post article.
Gary Steele, a chief executive of Proofpoint Inc., told the Post that, "There are organizations where employees think they can say whatever they want to say and nobody is going to read it."
Companies are doing this to prevent unsatisfied clients from forwarding rude e-mails to thousands of people's e-mail accounts and posting it on Web logs, thus ruining the reputation of a business that may have only one surly employee.
Embarrassment poses the other threat of today's reliance on e-mail. Litigation can force companies, governments and nonprofits to produce old e-mails in court, which means that interoffice e-mails also should remain professional.
The upside of all of this is that consumers should receive more polite and professional correspondence. It seems that no technological advance ever will replace that famous restaurant cliché about the customer coming first.