Electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM) -- the application of Customer Relationship Management within electronic businesses
Customer Data Integration (CDA) -- the process by which data is collected, assessed and integrated within the organization to maximize its chances of attaining its pre-established objectives
Data mining -- the process by which a database is statistically assessed to identify customer patterns -- it transforms data into information
Customer loyalty -- at a most simplistic level, a loyal customer is a client who continually returns to purchase the company's products and services. Through expansion, a loyal customer is also considered one who offers the company consistent feedback, testimonials or product reviews, but also one who promotes the company's products and services through word of mouth (Wise Geek, 2010).
7. Organization of the Project Paper
Once the paper has introduced the context of the research it carries on with the following chapters:
Chapter II: Literature Review
Chapter III: Customer Data and Customer Relationship Management in the Modern Day Business Society
Chapter IV: The GIBCA Group
Chapter V: Customer Data and Customer Relationship Management at the GIBCA Group
Chapter VI: Recommendations for Improving Customer Data Management and Customer Relationship Management at the GIBCA Group
Chapter VII: Concluding Remarks
Before going any further, it is important to mention that this structure is orientational and that there exists a possibility for the above structure to suffer modifications. This possibility is common with research endeavors, as new noteworthy elements are identified throughout the actual research process. Yet, the incurred changes should not be major.
Chapter II: Literature Review
1. Definitions of Customer Relationship Management
The concept of Customer Relationship Management is rather broad and the academic approaches to offering it a definition have varied from the offering of a cut and clear definition, to the avoidance of offering a definition. Also, it has to be noted that, before offering a definition, some authors have their ideas formed in the direction of their research project, meaning as such that their definition might be biased by the desire to give CRM meaning in the context of their own research. Still, this situation only broadens the approach to CRM by allowing the reader to view the concept from different angles. In this order of ideas, some of the most notable definitions of Customer Relationship Management include:
"Customer relationship management (CRM) is about understanding the nature of the exchange between customer and supplier and managing it appropriately. The exchange contains not only monetary consideration between supplier and customer but also communication. The challenge to all supplier organizations is to optimize communication between parties to ensure profitable long-term relationships" (Peel, 2002, p.3). The author of this definition believed that his definition is the most comprehensive one within the current context. To help the reader better understand his train of thoughts and his arguments, Peel highlighted four key words in the definition and explained their meaning and importance as follows:
Exchange between customer and supplier -- it recognizes the complexities of the relationship between the customer and the company; it introduces several metrics which help the company identify the "good" customers (for instance those who pay their debts on time)
Managing the relationship between customer and supplier -- this refers to two dimensions -- consideration and communication. The consideration dimension includes monetary concerns, as well as other elements, such as the ability of the client to make the payments on the purchased product or service.
Communication between supplier and customer -- the communications component is the most important aspect of Customer Relationship Management and the communications include organizational efforts at all levels in interacting with the customer, offering him information and retrieving constructive feedback.
Profitable long-term relationship -- this final element reveals the very scope of all previous efforts in establishing an exchange between the two parties, managing the relationship between the parties and supporting communications. All these efforts are made with the stated intent of adding more value to the company and increasing as such its profitability levels (Peel).
Kristin Andersen and Carol Kerr (2002, p.2) take a similar approach to CRM in the meaning that they offer a definition and then explain its main component words. From their standpoint, "Customer Relationship Management is a comprehensive approach for creating, maintaining and expanding customer relationships." In terms of their highlighted words, the two authors explain:
Comprehensive -- it implies that, unlike the general misconception, Customer Relationship Management does not only fall under the responsibilities of the sales and marketing departments, but that it should be present at all organizational levels. The two point out than when a single organizational department is in charge of CRM, the interaction with the customer will be negatively affected. In other words, they argue that CRM is a business philosophy, rather than a simple strategic approach.
Approach? -- the use of this word implies that Customer Relationship Management is a means of thinking on how to improve the relationship with the customer and then intensifying the efforts in this direction. At this stage, the authors once again argue the possibility of CRM to represent a business philosophy through the benchmarking role it would play within the company.
Creating, maintaining and expanding -- these three words imply that Customer Relationship Management is a cyclic process of analyzing and utilizing customer data in a means that attracts new customers and also consolidates the relations with the already existent customers (Andersen and Kerr).
Adrian Payne (2006) is one of the authors who clearly state that a definition of a given concept has to be relevant in the context of the specific research conducted. In this order of ideas, within his specific research topic of achieving customer excellence through CRM, the concept is defined as "a strategic approach concerned with creating improved shareholder value through the development of appropriate relationships with key customers segments. CRM unites the potential of IT and relationship marketing strategies to deliver profitable, long-term relationships. Importantly, CRM provides enhanced opportunities to use data and information both to understand customers and implement relationship marketing strategies better. This requires a cross-functional integration of people, operations, processes and marketing capabilities that is enabled through information, technology and applications" (Payne, p.22).
Edna Johnson Ragins and Alan J. Greco (2003) do not offer an individual and independent definition of Customer Relationship Management, but quote previous works. Within their article Customer Relationship Management and E-Business: More than a Software Solution, the two authors promote the idea that CRM is "is a business strategy that attempts to ensure every customer interaction (whether for sales or service) is appropriate, relevant, and consistent -- regardless of the communication channel." CRM is a core business strategy for managing and optimizing all customer interactions across an organization's traditional and electronic interfaces."
Another simplistic definition is offered by Dyche (2002), who argues that Customer Relationship Management represents "the infrastructure that enables the delineation of and increase in customer value, and the correct means by which to motivate valuable customers to remain loyal - indeed to buy again" (Dyche, p.290)
A less academic, but still noteworthy definition of CRM is that offered by the Search CRM Website, which defines the concept as "an information industry term for methodologies, software, and usually Internet capabilities that help an enterprise manage customer relationships in an organized way." The editors at the website offer the example of a CRM implementation in the company's construction of a database to contain valid and relevant information about the company customers. The information in the database would be gathered and detailed "so that management, salespeople, people providing service, and perhaps the customer directly could access information, match customer needs with product plans and offerings, remind customers of service requirements, know what other products a customer had purchased, and so forth" (Search CRM).
2. Customer Data
As it has been mentioned throughout a previous section, customer data refers to the information the company can or does collect on its customers, with the intent of using the data to increase its chances of attaining the organizational goals. Julia A. Jacko, Constantine Stephanidis and Don Harris (2003) identify four primary types of customer data, as follows:
Information on customer identification
Information on the behavior of the clients
Information on the desires of the customer, and finally
Information on the needs of the clients.
The customer data on the customer identification includes elements such as the name of the customer, his occupation or the number of years he has spend in school. All personal information is protected by the company and used only in the directions stated by the organization and agreed upon by the respondent. Incremental emphasis is being placed on identification data in order to be able to re-interact with the customers in the future, present him with the latest products, retrieve feedback and so on.…