Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Multi-Agent Framework for Social Customer Relationship Management Systems

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Multi-Agent Framework for Social Customer Relationship Management Systems

Article excerpt

Introduction

Customer relationship management (CRM) has become an interesting approach to management of a modern organization. It allows maintaining longterm relationships with customers, which results in e.g. increase in customer loyalty and profitability, and increased sales (Romano & Fjermestad, 2002; Dyche, 2002; Payne & Frow, 2005; Armstrong & Kotler, 2004).

The information about customers can be acquired from different places. These are usually internal databases, transaction systems and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems. Recently, social media have become a valuable source of information on customers. Social media including: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube are used by customers to share their opinions about any products and services purchased. Exploration and analyses of such information may bring numerous benefits for organizations (e.g. more extensive knowledge of customers and satisfaction of their individual needs).

For many years, the key technologies used to build management information systems included: databases, data warehouse technology, data mining techniques, and on-line analytical processing techniques. They all are effective in processing data that come from structured, closed, internal databases and transaction systems (Olszak, 2012). However, these tools, turn out to be insufficient for collecting, processing, monitoring and analyzing data that originates from distributed and open information resources, such as social media.

The main aim of this paper is to describe the design and development of multi-agent social CRM system (MASCRM). The multi-agent approach provides a potential architecture and development methodology suitable for the dispersed information. MASCRM uses agent technology to address issues in the field of CRM, including integration of data originating from social media, reduced latencies and decision automation. To demonstrate the idea of MASCRM, a prototype that uses the agent technology in the Facebook environment is described. The implementation of this prototype is explained and some obtained results are discussed.

The structure of this paper is organized as follows: first, we provide an overview of the CRM concept, especially social CRM system. Then, we present agent technology that provides some foundation for the development of a social CRM system. Next, the MASCRM concept and its components are presented in detail followed with a description of the prototype system. Finally, we summarize the key points of the research and give directions for future research.

The results of this study may be useful for designers of social CRM systems, as well as for the organizations that plan to use social media in customer relationship management.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management is probably one of the most recognized management approaches of the past decade (Minna & Aino, 2005). The increased competition, globalization, the development of information technology, total quality movement, system-selling approach and the development of network economy have had the significant influence on the prevalence of customer orientation (Parvatiyar & Sheth, 2001).

For today's organization, the customers have become important resources, and relationships with them are considered valuable assets and investments (Gneiser, 2010). Effective customer relationship management has therefore become a priority task and an approach to management in many organizations (Armstrong & Kotler, 2004). This results in improvement of customer satisfaction, increase in sales, customer profitability and loyalty (Kostojohn, Johnson & Paulen, 2011).

The origins of CRM are strongly associated with the management concept of relationship marketing. The relationship marketing orientation is concentrating on building, developing and maintaining long-term relationships with customers, and other stakeholders (Levitt, 1983; Gummesson, 1987; Gronroos, 1990). …

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