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There are three key company areas involved in implementation of a CRM solution such as enterprise customer management. These are the areas of people, processes and technology (Laberis, 1999). There is normally little inter connection between these areas, but in the future there will be a strong need for them to be considered together if customer relationships are to be managed effectively. These areas have been analyzed carefully and gaps identified through a comparison of the current situation with that required with the implementation of CRM solutions. These three areas are discussed below in some detail.
People-Related Gaps: People issues are perhaps the most important factors in change. Consolidating customer service activities into an integrated customer service center implies changes in the organization. Employees' roles and responsibilities will change. The behavior and performance of customer service representatives are the key determinants of the quality of a customer center. Even if the right employees are found in the first place, it is still important to retain, attract, and motivate customer service agents using employee development plans. Ongoing training and coaching are important steps in the realization of this goal (Liljander, Veronica, "The Importance of Internal Relationship Marketing for External Relationship Success") (Jenkins, 1999, p. 159). Another type of "people gap" occurs when managers lose power and responsibility for those tasks that ought to be managed by the service center. Departments try to defend their "kingdoms" by setting up solutions in isolation, but the issue should not be one of a manager's individual powers. It is clear that the only long-term competitive advantage to a company is the quality of customer relationship. Reorganizing the company around the customer has therefore become compulsory from a competitive viewpoint-it is a must, not an option (Shahla, 2000, p. 737). A learning environment is imperative in this process.
Process-Related Gaps: Process gaps refer to a breakdown in a series of related actions intended to produce a desired result. Process gaps occur in the flow of information from one point in an organization to another. Defined processes are very important, especially for inbound customer contacts. Incoming questions and complaints have to be answered; if no immediate answer is possible, then there have to be procedures concerning how and through whom the issue should then be escalated. The timeliness of a response to a customer is also important. If the final "results" are not immediately available, then the customer should at least be informed that some body is working on the solution and will get back to them as soon as the solution has been found (Ahlert, Henning, "Enterprise Customer Management: Integrating Corporate and Customer Information") (Jenkins, 1999, p. 263).
Technology-Related Gaps: Technology gaps concern the technologies , which enable a structured, rapid and repeatable generation of information and workflow. The underlying technology in a customer service department is rarely good enough to properly support the work of the staff. It is important to be able to deal with different contact points where the customer interacts with the organization and then to integrate the information in one system. If the company is to interact with its customers on a continual and consistent basis, then it is essential that the customer service department actually be able to use the collected information. But technology can only be of help if it provides adequate support for the underlying business processes. It does not usually pay to use technology just for the sake of implementing the latest features (Ahlert, Henning, "Enterprise Customer Management: Integrating Corporate and Customer Information") (Jenkins, 1999, p. 264).
The six Is of relationship management as laid out by Diller (Sheth & Parvatiyar, 2000, pp. 442-447) are as noted below:
Information-Information about customers in order to build a customer database suitable for treating customers on a relationship basis
Investing-It is necessary to select customers which are worth investing in
Individuality-The possibility of customizing (a program that makes both individualization and cost minimization possible) is important
Systematic Interaction and Integration into value-creation process
Intent-It is necessary to pursue relationship marketing with the intent of giving business relationships a unique character, which distinguishes the supplier from its competitors
According to some researchers the marketing focus has shifted from the four Ps (product, price, promotion and place) to the three Rs of relationship marketing. Unfortunately, the leading light of relationship marketing has overlooked the most important Rs of all. There is a contention that relationship marketing is retroactive, retrospective and retrogressive. It looks to the past rather than the future; it is profoundly pessimistic, despite claims to the contrary. Rather than continuing to revere the customer, as relationship marketing suggests, marketing should seek to escape its customer-centricuniverse (Brown, Stephen, "The Three Rs of Relationship Marketing: Retroactive, Retrospective, Retrogressive") (Jenkins, 1999, p. 393).
A company will not be successful on the external market if it has not at first taken good care of its internal market-its employees. Internal service quality affects job satisfaction and, ultimately, customer satisfaction. CRM helps with reducing customer and employee turnover by virtue of identifying, establishing, maintaining and enhancing relationships with customers and other stakeholders profitably, so that the objectives of all parties involved are met (Liljander, Veronica, "The Importance of Internal Relationship Marketing for External Relationship Success") (Jenkins, 1999, p. 162).
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