Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences

Conceptualizing Customer Relationship Management Using a Descriptive Approach

Academic journal article Journal of Emerging Trends in Economics and Management Sciences

Conceptualizing Customer Relationship Management Using a Descriptive Approach

Article excerpt

Abstract

This article presents a descriptive discourse of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), its origin and perceived similarity to Relationship Marketing (RM) using extant marketing literature. It aimed at providing a contrasting clarification between CRM and RM with a view of determining whether or not both concepts are the same. It highlighted some notable differences between the two concepts by exploring key theoretical underpinnings based on the works of marketing scholars, and key CRM processes were also identified as conceptualized from the reviews. The different ways by which organizations and its customers perceive value were critically analysed. The findings suggested that CRM is still regarded as an elusive marketing concept which defies a concrete definition. Though, recently, there are attempts to provide a common definition of the concept. The findings showed that CRM is an old marketing ideology which is being clothed with new connotations and that; CRM and RM are like two inseparable Siamese-twins. Although, one is merely an extended version of the other nevertheless, both concepts hinges upon building strong and lasting relationships between business organizations and stakeholders in order to seek customers' loyalty and continuous patronage. Both business managers and practitioners are expected to benefit from the discussions as it exposes the dichotomy of opinions on CRM and RM. Marketing researchers can now begin to employ ways of adopting CRM processes not only to keep existing customers satisfied but also to attract new ones.

Keywords: stress quality, CRM, relationship marketing, value, technology-based, stakeholders,

INTRODUCTION

Historically, customer relationship management (CRM) was first popularized in 1983 in the works of Berry (Berry, 1995). It is described as a way of retaining customers by building maintaining strong relationship with them. Managing firm-customers' relationship is very crucial to the survival of business organizations because marketing authors believe that the goal of marketing has shifted from a transactional/exchange oriented approach to that of a value creating one (Sheth and Uslay, 2007; Payne et al., 2008). Till date, value creation remains the heart- beat of marketing practitioners and business organizations so much so that it was emphasized in the definition of marketing by the American Marketing Association (AMA). Marketing was defined as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large (America Marketing Association, 2007).

Golder et al. (2012) also affirmed that value is created by both consumers and producers (the value co-creation process) at the point where "two individuals/institutions with complementary resources are connected" (Sheth and Uslay, 2007 p. 303). This is evident in most marketing activities such as market/marketing research, pricing and selling (Sheth and Uslay, 2007). Even though both consumers and firms are involved in creating value, consumers play a greater role in the process because, whereas firms offer value propositions only (Vargo and Lusch, 2004), the propositions remain valueless unless they are used by consumers (Grönroos, 2009). Value therefore is often expressed in the quality of products and/or services that firms offer to customers. Though, designing quality products that will be valued by customers is a very daunting exercise (Golder et al., 2012).

This is because oftentimes buyers' interpretation of quality varies significantly from that of firms' (Heizer and Render, 2011) hence; their perceived value orientation also differs. Buyers often tend to view quality products in terms of their durability and/or how highly priced they are whereas; firms may consider quality variables such as flexibility, speed, dependability and cost (Slack et al., 2011). No wonder, business organizations and consumers are constantly making quality-related decisions (Golder et al. …

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