Customer relationship management (CRM) can be defined as a combination of people, processes and technology that seeks to understand the needs of the company's customers (Chen & Popovich, 2003). It is also used as an integrated approach to manage relationships by focusing on customer retention and relationship development (Chen & Popovich, 2003).
CRM is widely used by multinationals and predominantly by large enterprises in order to bring a higher value of services to their customers. Due to the intangible nature of a service, the "little things" are what often make a difference! While many managers focus on achieving fundamental goals in the delivery of services, the greater the attention to the finer details is what often results in greater customer satisfaction.
Customers generally expect service companies to know their business and to keep an adequate level of quality for their core services. (Berry, Wall, & Carbone, 2006) However, those features that make the customer truly appreciate that he is receiving an exceptional service, will trigger the customer to come back and recommend the service provider to other customers. These are the underlying areas that build successful relationships.
SMEs tend not to pay enough attention to CRM, believing that it is costly and inefficient for small or medium size business to invest in a CRM system. The results from recent Master thesis of CRM practices in Cyprus shows that by building relationships with clients, consulting firms build on their reputation in the market and their profitability. Contrary to the belief that investment in CRM has little to offer, it provides unlimited potential to increase returns and enrich the long term value that a service provider offers. Successful CRM practices include being proactive in the relationships with clients. Especially with small firms, where one-to-one interaction is common, there is a lot of room to get to understand the customers' operations, become aware of their specific needs and tailor the services offered to address them in the best possible way.
It has become an established practice amongst the SMEs in the consulting business in Cyprus to use a CRM software application for the administration and coordination efforts of their business relationship management. These applications include various different features specific to the consultancy service company, but the most common function is that of data storing, which includes the contact details and history of the past interactions with their clients. Whatever the choice of software a company decides to use, it has to maintain a focus on serving its customers better.
The competitive advantage of the service provider is often achieved and centered on a combination of technology, people and processes that are surrounded by the umbrella of customer relationship management.
Berry, L. L., Wall, E. A., & Carbone, L. P. (2006). Service Clues and Customer Assessment of the Service Experience: Lessons from Marketing. Academy of Management Perspectives , 43-57.
Chen, I. J., & Popovich, K. (2003). Understanding customer relationship management (CRM). Business Process Management Journal , 672-688.
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