Customer Centricity - Literature Review Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Even customers who are satisfied with something do not always return to that specific business, especially if the business is somewhat out of the way or relatively inconvenient to get to (Jackson, Cunningham, & Cunningham, 1988).

Customer loyalty is generally thought to be achieved when a customer returns to buy something that they have bought before from the same company (Jackson, Cunningham, & Cunningham, 1988). There are many other ways to measure loyalty statistically, but it basically boils down to a customer returning to a business even though there are so many other choices available (Jackson, Cunningham, & Cunningham, 1988).

There are many ways to increase customer loyalty and it is significant to discuss some of them here (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). One of the best ways is to meet or exceed many of the service standards that others in the industry have established for customers (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). This is often a difficult thing to do but it is necessary if loyalty is to be kept (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). A customer's right to their privacy is also extremely significant to many people today with the higher number of credit card and identity thefts that seem to be taking place and the problems that some have with privacy on computers in carrying out transactions (Shafiroff & Shook, 1990).

If customers believe that all of the personal information they have provided to a specific business is being shared with everyone they will likely not do business with that specific organization or will not return to do business a second time (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). Customers who are assured of privacy and feel comfortable with a specific business will likely buy there again because they feel safe (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). Dealing with customers that have problems or difficulties is also another way to keep customer loyalty (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). Businesses should have a good method for customers who have complaints to call and have these complaints dealt with promptly and efficiently (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971).

Customers who feel they can contact the business and discuss problems that they are having are more likely to remain with that business because they feel that they are actually cared about by the people that work there (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). It is also significant to look at customer value and customer satisfaction (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971).

Most large businesses survey the customer base that they have to determine how satisfied a customer is with the business and the good or service that was bought (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). It is significant to look at these customers' opinions of how satisfied they are with a specific business, but most do not look at the values that they provide for their service based on what their competitors are providing (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971).

When this is analyzed and looked at along with customer satisfaction ratios it will help to indicate why some customers who appear to be satisfied with the business do not remain loyal to that specific business (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). Not every business completely understands what customer centricity programs are but they can be very powerful tools when used for relationship management (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971).

One of the main reasons that businesses feel that customer centricity is so significant is due to the fact that maintaining a relationship with the customer that they already have is often a great deal cheaper than acquiring more customers (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). Many firms find that losing the customers that they have and the customers that are most profitable have very serious effects on their profitability (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). For example, many banks find that the top 30% of the customers that they have make up 100 to 150% of the total amount of profitability that they have (Zeithaml, Pasuraman, & Berry, 1990). Because of this, the rest of the customers may not provide them many kind of profitability at all (Zeithaml, Pasuraman, & Berry, 1990).

Saving profitable customers is not the only reason that customer centricity programs are so significant (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). They also allow businesses to collect a great deal of information about the customers that they have (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). By using this data, businesses can better market to, target, communicate with, and understand the customers that they have and they can help to customize some of the future interactions that they have with these customers in such a way that the customer will feel more comfortable (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). Retention programs are often relatively inexpensive and they make customers feel special and significant (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971).

In turn, this increases the buys that the customer makes at the store and also helps the customer to recommend the store to others (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). Many people look at customer centricity programs as being synonymous with customer relationship management, but this is not the case (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). There are several types of customer centricity programs that are utilized by different businesses (Rackham, Honey, Colbert, Fields, Hinson, Morgran, Morris, Sugden, & Tribe, 1971). One of these is the discount program where customers receive a discount because they have repeatedly bought from that store (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990).

Another is a loyalty program which is usually based on a system of points (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). These points are given to customers based on the interactions that they have with a specific company and then these points are redeemed by the customer for discounts or other rewards (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). Another type of customer service program is one that is card based (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). These are often used by supermarkets where a card is given to the customer and then this card is swiped through the scanner at the checkout line (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). This gives the customer holding this card discounts on various items that he or she may be purchasing at the time (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990).

The customer centricity programs do have expense and difficulties, however (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). Some of the retention programs can be very expensive and often they offer discounts or rewards to customers who would have bought the product anyway even if they did not receive an incentive (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). Over 87% of customers surveyed in one specific study indicated that they would have bought goods or services from a specific company even if they did not receive an incentive for doing so (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). Regardless of the benefits and the costs that come with the customer centricity strategy, the largest problem with retention programs is that they do not have enough direction (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990).

There are typically four specific areas that need to be examined in order to help businesses improve the focus that they have on the customer (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). These four areas are:

The way that the organization thinks about customers and whether the success of the specific organization is centered on customers or has some other focus (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990).

The way that the organization works and whether its processes are designed to be centered around the customer (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990).

The way that a specific organization is structured and whether the form that the firm has taken actually follows the function to meet the needs of the customer (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990).

How the culture of the organization actually manifests itself and whether everyone who works with the firm listens to, thinks about, and responds appropriately to the customers that the firm already has (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990).

There are ways to overcome these hurdles but they must be recognized before they can be overcome and then they must be studied in order to assure that the difficulties that are being faced in a specific company are corrected so that customers become the main focus (Williams, Spiro, & Fine, 1990). Direct intervention…

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