In modern competitive business environments, managers need to enact policies that address challenges facing their organizations. Effective business strategic should have the ability to take advantage of business opportunities and mitigate against business risks and threats in their industry. Customer relationship management (CRM) is a recent strategic management tool, strategy, and weapon that business leaders effect to build health customer portfolio; it is a comprehensive approach to creating, maintaining and expanding customer-business relationship; it has the main role of ensuring that the customer is satisfied with the products and services of a company. Marketing is an integral part of business management; it involves policies and strategies implemented to facilitate selling of products and services manufactured in an organization (Kerin and Peterson, 45-90). This paper discusses strategic and competitive opportunities within customer relation management (CRM).
Customer relation management strategy
Businesses can only prosper if the management has policies that ensure that the products and services produced address the need of their customers.
To ensure that customer needs have been addressed, the management has the responsibility of undertaking wide and comprehensive research on the target market and making responsive business decisions. According to management gurus, customer is the most important segment of an organization; they need to be managed effectively and their loyalty developed. Organizations that have enacted effective customer management approaches have remained competitive amidst challenging business environments they are engage in. For example Apple Inc. has become the world largest electronic industry in sale volumes and production due to its effective customer management procedures; the company adopts a customer relationship management (CRM) approach to attract and maintain customers. In the definition of the company CRM is a management strategy where a company creates healthy relationship with the suppliers, customers and the public; at Apple Inc, customer is the most important stakeholder and all processes are aimed at increasing customers’ welfare.
The following are the main objectives that effective customer management programs endeavors to fulfill: Determine, develop, nurture, and develop mutual satisfaction of the organization and customers, this notion means that the customers’ needs are aligned with business goals and objectives Create, develop, and maintain good customer rapport, the customer rapport will be an effective tool that will create customer loyalty. When an organization has attained high customer loyalty , it is able to sell its products at relatively low cost of marketing, the company is self marketing Customer relation management have the goals and objective of creating a positive feelings in the organization and the customers The most important parameter that an organization should consider when enacting customer relation management policy within its frameworks is the target market who will be consuming the products and services of the company.
Strategic opportunities offered by customer relations management (CRM) programs
In contemporary competitive business arena, companies need to management the relationship they have with their customers. When customers are well managed, an organization benefits from loyalty and self marketing notion of their organization; customers are the backbone of a company; they are the sources of finance and the reason why a certain business exist. CRM’s main objective is satisfying customers and developing close relationship that facilitates customer loyalty; to attract customers and persuade them buy ones products takes a combination of business processes; effective marketing and sales strategies have a direct effect on customer’s attainment and development of customer loyalty. In customer acquisition and creation of loyalty, there are two main theories that a company needs to understand and decide the best approach to use; the theories are customer retention and customer acquisition.
Customer relation management policies link a company to its target customers; if this link is not effective, there will be a breakdown of communication between these two parties. Information is power; marketing offers much needed information for strategic decisions. When producing goods, there is a target market that company aims. Human beings are not static; their needs change with time and space. Understanding of customers’ trend is important for an effective business. When a company produces goods and services, it does so with the aim of selling. Creating awareness and persuading the customers to buy a company’s goods is the role of the marketing department.
It thus ensures that the main objective of a business that is profit making is attained. Customer relation management assist, a company to compete effectively and probably win the competition. How well a company persuades its customers goes a long way in determining whether customers favor it or not. To satisfy customers, marketers provide much needed information on which products are on demand, to assist the company make products that meet customer-changing needs. For example, it advises a company when designing distribution channels, supply chain, and retiling systems.
When determining the integrated marketing communications combinations to use then information from the marketing department is crucial. An effective customer management procedure affects the overall operation of an organization; it aims at analyzing internal and external environment that a business operates in, to device mechanisms for effective product communication to the target customers. When the internal and external environments have been noted, the process assists in analyzing consumer behavior both in domestic and global markets to ensure that it advises its company effectively on the best practices to adopt to remain competitive. Consumer behavior has an effect on decisions that consumers make pertaining buying a particular company’s products or consuming their services. Customers are well managed using and effective marketing research, the responsible department is expected to advise other sections on product developments and the best approaches they should take to attain effective product differentiation. Through survey of the prevailing market conditions and analyzing competitors, marketing assists a company in setting prices. It aims at advising a company in product development and differentiation; an effective marketing strategy fulfils all the above-mentioned objectives not in isolation but all at a go.
When all the objectives are met, a company gains a competitive advantage, as it is able to relate with its customers well (Kerin and Peterson 45-90).
Competitive opportunities in customer relation management
Customer relation management emphasizes on three main areas which are marketing management, product differentiation, and service differentiation. Marketing management After development of products, whether service or goods, a company needs to create awareness and sell the products to the target customers. Marketing in an integral part of a business, it starts way before a product has been developed; and continues through the life cycle of product. The main objective of marketing is to create awareness and develop a repo between customers and a business.
For this noble task, there is need to have an effective marketing strategy; no single strategy can effectively operate in all industries; however, there are some shared elements of an effective marketing strategy When developing a marketing strategy, the first thing that marketer should do is to perform a marketing research; marketing research starts before a company has created the products required in the market and continues through the product cycle. It aims at recognizing a deficit that the current products in the market are not meeting, and developing product that can fill the gap. When developing a marketing strategy, a company should aims developing a strategy that will give maximum results at the minimum cost possible; thus for an effective marketing strategy, timely, organized and relevant information is required. To get this information, a company needs to undertake market research and analyze the data for decision-making; information collected should be easily manipulated to reflect the changes in ad hoc requirements of information by management. Market research has the role of collecting, interpolating, analyzing and storing internal and external data; the data collected should be presented in a form that enables informed decision-making. Market research starts with a desk research where marketers use the available secondary materials to understand the situation and basic operations in the market; the information can be gotten from published and unpublished materials. When developing a marketing strategy it is important to understand internal and external factors likely to affect the strategy; internally the company aims at understanding its strength and weaknesses, whereas an external analysis assist a company understand the position that it holds in the market as well as the effects of competitors.
If it is the case of new company, it is able to understand the market dynamics operating in certain industry for future marketing related decisions like marketing entry mechanism. External environment trend is likely to affect the behavior of consumers so when well understood better strategies will be made effectively. When undertaking marketing research, the main aim is to understand Psycho-dynamics of the market and the underlying factors that can be used for the advantage of the company and developing mitigation measures against those factors that are likely to affect the business negatively. Product/service differentiation and Brand Loyalty The success of the company is dependent on the quality and reliability of the products; when products are of the right quality and meet the standards of the people, they are likely to be competitive amidst competitor products. When a company is developing a product, there should be the need that the product is supposed to fulfill. For example fast food joints are places where consumers should get a quick service; this implies that they should have an effective queue flow to ensure that they have ready products adequate for the consumers at a particular point in time and still the products have not stayed in the restaurant for many hours. An organization in the hospitality/fast food industry has differentiated products if it is respected for its products quality, freshness, and production of tasty foods. The trend that the customers follow at one given point is a change to the product that gives them a higher utility.
When the product is developed, the team should always invest in offering something extra to the consumer. Products come with the idea of packaging, and how the product is presented to the final consumer, there is need to have a pleasant look as the way as the way the product is handled has an effect on its successes (Kotler and Kevin 6-67). To attain brand loyalty, a company must ensure its products are differentiable in the market; this call for high quality good and making brand salience, the brand should be on top of a consumers mind so that they are willing to decide without much of consideration on the brand. It involves having a psychological attachment where a mention of certain industry products creates a stimulus in a consumers mind. For example, by the mention of soft beverages, Coca-Cola Company has ensured that customers will think of the company first, in a rather unconscious way. The mention of a soda is sometimes associated with Coke- the most sold brand by Coca-Cola Company. It has created the need for emotional attachment with the brand.
Consumer attitude goes a long way in influencing the choice of brand; attitudes are created by experiences with the brand, information from other people who have had an experience and it is subject to marketing and advertising tools implemented by a company. Consumer behavior keeps changing, they are persuadable though a company with a strong marketing team can correctly predict consumer behavior and implemented appropriate strategies. Having a strong brand awareness campaigns that ensures customers can recall involves creating mental attachments like brand names, logos and symbols.
When this has been affected, then customers will be willing to buy a company’s products without much consideration. Mercedes Benz manufacturing company has invested in creating mental pictures about the brand; it is believed that the model is classic, expensive and has status. It is seen to have a “niche” products kind of approach because of its uniqueness and division of the market between those people who want their social status respected in the society. Customers who have purchased the brand in the past are operant conditioned to believe they have made it to a higher class than their counterparts who have other models like Toyota.
For such a customer to buy another model, his mental picture as molded by the company will show him or her that he is losing status, something that consumers will always fight against, the end result is brand loyalty and attachment. The longevity that Coca-Cola Company product has had in the market has favored the company in creating positive attitude towards its products. For a larger population in modern world, they are younger than the brand. Since childhood, the brand name has been triggering in the mind of a person. He grows believing that a soft drink in a soda from the company.
The positive attitude created by the company has made it easy to have effective brand extension with the latest as Coke Light a brand extension of Coke brand. Believes of the people which run down generations is that the company has unique products and is superior. The company has invested in understanding consumer behavior; consumers keep changing with economic, social and age changes, the company keeps evolving with the needs of the customer. For example, with modern busy world where people are busy hopping from one place to another, it is rather difficult for someone to sit back and enjoy a bottle of a soft drink, realizing this, the company came up with disposable bottles soft drinks, the response has been positive (Joby 20).
Customer relation management is strategic management tool that seeks to create, improve, and maintain healthy relationship between an organization and its customers.
The management approach addresses internal and external operational factors to develop policies and strategic to create loyal customers; organizations that have adopted customer relation management strategic attain competitiveness over products made by their competitors.
Joby, John. Fundamentals of Customer-Focused Management: Competing Through Service. Westport: Praeger, 2003. Print. Kerin, Andrew, and Peterson Richards. Strategic Marketing Problems: Cases and Comments. London: Pearson Education, 2009.
Print. Kotler, Porter, and Kevin Keller. Marketing Management. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2006.