by Yogesh 2016
The purpose of this chapter is to develop a theoretical framework of mCRM based on the research papers.
This theoretical framework reflects the current knowledge of the author. Accordingly, it is acknowledged that discussion in the research papers may be in some way controversial or inadequate compared to current knowledge. The comparison is considered of critical importance since the research process has been relatively long and three of the four papers were published over three years ago. For instance, in research paper II the authors do not make any synthesis of the discussion related to CRM and mobile marketing. Instead, the discussion is discrete by nature and, thus, does not make accurate contribution to mobile CRM literature. In parallel with progress in the research process, my thoughts have naturally crystallized about mCRM. Therefore, some suggestions and arguments presented in the research papers are compared to current knowledge in this section.
As mentioned, the theoretical foundations for mCRM communication lie in the CRM, mobile commerce and communication literature. Therefore, the framework focuses on these focal discussions related to mCRM communication.
Customer relationship management (CRM)
Customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the focal concepts within this study. In particular, CRM act as underlying thought of communication through mobile medium in this study. In order to enhance understanding of mCRM, it is considered of utmost importance to peek briefly at this underlying thought guiding mobile CRM efforts. Therefore, this chapter discuss on the conceptual development and the key elements of CRM. Then, CRM as a process is discussed. Finally, the channels through which a company interacts with its customers and the role of individual channels are presented.
According to Buttle (2003), customer relationship management stands for different things for different people and different situations. The three letters, CRM are mostly referred by people as customer relationship management. Others refer CRM as customer relationship marketing. Buttle (2003) continues with the statement, whatever it is called, CRM is clearly a business practice focused on customers. Meanwhile, Kerr and Anderson (2001) see CRM as a strategy, a tool or even a weapon that keeps the company on course and to be able to anticipate the changing landscape of the marketplace. According to these authors, CRM is a comprehensive approach for creating, maintaining and expanding customer relationships.
Another author who views CRM as a strategy is Deans (2004), who states that CRM is a strategy for companies to build and manage long-term relationships with their customers. According to the researchers, by implementing CRM, better customer service, as well as improvement and management of customer expectations and loyalty can be provided. CRM can also be seen as a way to present a company’s products, quality and services to its customers. Companies expect to improve profitability by gaining customer loyalty, customizing offerings, and lowering costs by implementing CRM solutions (Deans, 2004). Authors Sinisalo, Salo, Karjaluoto and Leppäniemi (2006) view CRM as a strategy for companies to become familiar with its customers, having the objective to build and maintain long-term relationships. For that reason, companies should provide differentiated relationship value and communicate continuously and consistently with each of their customers. This way allows companies to interact, respond, and communicate more effectively with their customers. Data about customer’s demographics, psychographics, buying behavior and history can be facilitated by advanced technologies. This data would only be useful for companies if it is turned into customer information, and know how to utilize this information for CRM purposes. The authors mean that, CRM is about how customer information is used to create more personal interaction with the customers by taking advantage of technology (Sinisalo et. al., 2006). Customer differentiation allows companies to offer service that match different customer needs and customer values (Deans, 2004). Because CRM has lately become popular in many disciplines and industries, new digital marketing channels, such as the internet and mobile phones are considered powerful. These channels reach customers in a way, which allow personalization and interactivity of the content and the context of the message (Sinisalo and Salo, 2006). Finally the key to establish customer relationships is to identify customer satisfaction. According to Winer’s model (Deans, 2004) customer loyalty, customization, community building, and unique services with branding contribute to high customer satisfaction and retention. Delivering a higher level of customer satisfaction that exceeds customer expectation will increase profitability, which is a key objective of the relationship management strategy (Deans, 2004).
After an analysis of many definitions of CRM, the authors of this thesis could not find a single definition that is suitable for this thesis. The authors of this thesis have therefore defined CRM as: a business strategy which is integrated with technology to be able to create and maintain long-term customer relationships. This definition is a combination of all the essential key point from the above, which the authors of this thesis believe characterize CRM. Therefore, hereafter CRM will be referred to this stipulated definition.
Conceptual development of CRM
This chapter illustrates the conceptual development of the important concept of this dissertation, CRM. That inevitably means entering into the perpetual debate on the CRM and RM concepts. This is due to the fact that these discussions are, most often, intertwined with each other and so, it is impossible to separate them. Although the foundation for research on CRM was laid in the late 1970s, and it is acknowledged that there is a plethora of literature sharing similar ideology to CRM, the acronym CRM itself made its debut in academic literature as late as 1996. The acronym CRM was coined by Stone, Woodcock and Wilson (Stone et al. 1996). However, the authors use the term customer relationship management merely in the title and from then on discuss RM (Sinisalo 2007a). Thereafter, the first wave of academic CRM literature came to prominence in the late 1990’s. In those years, there was evidently confusion around the term customer relationship management. Accordingly, the ideology underlying CRM was “plagiarized” mainly from others and, therefore, it had striking similarities with other relationship oriented concepts. The basic elements of CRM, such as mutually beneficial relationships, were adopted mostly from RM philosophy. Thus, CRM did not have an identity of its own. As an example, Davids (1999) used CRM interchangeably with the cognate terms, such as RM, lifetime value marketing, loyalty marketing, and one-to-one marketing while giving guidance on how to increase the chances of success for CRM applications. In paralleling, Peppers et al. (1999) developed a guide for companies to implement one-to-one marketing program and used CRM as a synonym for one-to-one marketing and RM. This refers to the idea that there is only one philosophy associated with attempts by companies to develop and maintain relationships with the customers, but several terms to describe it.
In the year 2001, the academic literature of CRM witnessed explosive growth (Sinisalo 2007a, Ngai 2005). At that time, many authors still waded into the perpetual debate of the relation of CRM to other management concepts, such as RM. The majority of the authors contributing to the CRM literature used the terms CRM and RM as if they were synonyms. Moreover, Parvatiyar and Sheth (2001) argued that these terms had not been distinguished from each other in the marketing literature. However, this approach was not without controversy. The academics, concurrently, pursued a common conceptualization that would manifest the uniqueness of the concept of CRM. Many authors considered CRM as a modus operandi for RM (e.g. Plakoyiannaki and Tzokas 2002, Stefanou et al. 2003, Gummesson 2004). For instance, Gummesson (2004) defined CRM as the values and strategies of relationship marketing – with particular emphasis on customer relationships – turned into practical application. Contrary to some, Plouffe et al. (2004) questioned the whole logic of attempting to create a common conceptualization of CRM because of each firm’s uniqueness.
The perpetual debate slowed somewhat when Zablah et al. (2004) concluded the comparison between CRM and RM terms by stating that relationship marketing and CRM are different phenomena albeit interrelated and highly associated with each other. Additionally, they provided a conceptualization not only outlining CRM’s domain but also reconciling the divergent perspectives stemming from academic and popular literature. Recently, the number of academic articles focusing on CRM and being published in the mainstream marketing journals has been growing steadily. Many respected marketing scholars have addressed interest in the phenomenon. For instance, when Industrial Marketing Management (IMM) devoted an issue to CRM, it generated more submissions than any other special issue the journal had produced (LaPlaca 2004). In addition, the special section on CRM in the Journal of Marketing could be considered as one landmark of this interest (Rogers 2005).
As noted, there were a relatively large number of academic papers on CRM with a normative orientation. This is not extraordinary in the light of the bulk of CRM handbooks that inherently have a normative orientation. Generally, these normative papers present “to-do-lists” and “best practices” relating to some CRM issues among other things. These papers are most often published in journals concentrating on management practice, such as the Harvard Business Review. In parallel with the increasing interest in the phenomenon, CRM research has broken free from the “normative burden” inherent to practical CRM literature and the confusion around the concept of CRM seems to be slowly decreasing (Sinisalo 2007a, Boulding et al. 2005). In line with Zablah et al. (2004), this study considers that RM and CRM are different phenomena albeit interrelated and highly associated with each other. In other words, CRM is a specific relationship management domain having unique elements (Zablah et al. 2004, Boulding et al. 2005).
2.1.2 Key elements of CRM
As mentioned above, CRM as a concept has been a topic of major importance among academics for more than a decade (Payne and Frow 2005, Boulding et al. 2005, Richards and Jones 2008, Keramati et al. 2010) and the principles on which CRM based have existed for much longer (Payne and Frow 2004, Boulding et al. 2005). Despite the gradually evolving academic interest, the research on CRM has consistently been fragmented and many issues lack any consensus (see e.g. Boulding et al. 2005). This may be due to the fact that significant disagreement exists among academics and practitioners as to the nature of CRM (Zablah et al. 2004).
In fact, CRM technology is often incorrectly equated with holistic CRM resulting in many failures (Reinartz et al. 2004, Lambert 2010). Accordingly, it is not surprising that there is lot of confusion around the term CRM (Payne and Frow 2005, Boulding et al. 2005). Against this evidence, there is definitely a lack of consensus on the definition of CRM, although recently academics have pointed to an increased clarity in the proferred definitions (Frow and Payne 2009). Despite the many different descriptions, there are two commonly acknowledged key elements that all definitions of CRM, either implicitly or explicitly, include. The first of them is the intelligent use of data and technology. Accordingly, it is important to emphasize that technology does play a substantial role in CRM efforts (Chen and Popovich 2003). Empowered by advanced technologies, companies can, among other things, gather an unprecedented amount of data on their customers, and, subsequently, turn this data into customer knowledge (Bose 2002). Accordingly, a customer database enables information on customers from all relevant departments to be centralized in order to further use it intelligently to develop relationships with those customers (Reinartz et al. 2004, Jayachandran et al. 2005). In addition, providing the consistent service regardless of the channel the company chooses to interact with its customers is largely enabled by intelligent technology (Greigthon 2000, Bradshaw and Brash 2001, Chen and Popovich 2003). Nevertheless success is naturally also dependent on appropriate human interaction with the processes and systems selected (Chen and Popovich 2003, Boulding et al. 2005). For instance, the mere existence of customer data does not lead to understanding customers, and it is people who most often decide how the data is to be utilized for CRM purposes. The other key element is the focus on customer relationships. This is in line with the paradigm shift in marketing where the focus has shifted from transactional marketing to marketing approaches focusing on building and retaining relationships with the customers (e.g. Dwyer et al. 1987, Grönroos 1991, Sheth and Parvatiyar 1995). However, CRM does not focus exclusively on the establishment and maintenance of close, collaborative exchange relationships, contrary to RM. Instead, the relational perspective of CRM is considered as being on a continuum from transactional to relational (Zablah et al. 2004). Therefore, CRM can be applied, for instance, in a retailing context in which relationships are often based only on loyalty cards and quantity of visits. Bearing the previous point in mind, CRM is, at its core, about leveraging technology with the purpose of developing customer relationships. For the purpose of this study, not particular definition of CRM is adopted. Furthermore, defining CRM more specifically is not considered pertinent although its importance as an underlying thought for mCRM is acknowledged. However, it is considered vital to elaborate on the process perspective on CRM in the next chapter for the purposes of this study.
CRM as a process
This study adopts a process view of CRM (Srivastava et al. 1999, Chen and Popovich 2003, Zablah et al. 2004, Lambert 2010). According to Srivastava et al. (1999 ) CRM as a process addresses all aspects of identifying customers, creating customer knowledge, building customer relationships and shaping customer perceptions of the organization and its products. As noted, it is acknowledged in this view that customer relationships develop over time (Reinartz et al. 2004, Zablah et al. 2004). Consequently, this view acknowledges that a customer relationship process evolves through distinct phases (Dwyer et al. 1987). According to Reinartz et al. (2004) the CRM process at the customer facing level consists of three key stages, namely the initiation, maintenance, and termination phases. Furthermore, it is of critical importance for companies to interact with customers and manage relationships differently at each phase (Srivastava et al. 1998).
Furthermore, this macro-level process can be further divided into highly related sub-processes (Srivastava et al. 1999). One of these sub-processes of CRM is interaction management (e.g. Hirschowitz 2001, Reinartz et al. 2004, Zablah et al. 2004). According to this view, interactions with customers are considered as a key element of the management of customer relationships (e.g. Parvatiyar and Sheth 2001, Day and Van den Bulte 2002). Within interaction management, it is of critical importance that interactions are consistent experiences for customers regardless of the channel and the personnel the customer interacts with in the company (Payne and Frow 2005, Neslin et al. 2006). This demands improving and coordinating information across time and contact channels to manage the customer relationships systematically (Reinartz et al. 2004, Thomas and Sullivan 2005, Richards and Jones 2008).
Companies can interact with the customers more appropriately when the information on them is detailed and up-to-date (Jayachandran et al. 2005). The essence of CRM is, thus, to learn about customers needs and identify how best to satisfy them (Srivastava et al. 1999). Without this identification and understanding, customers are invisible to the company and, therefore, unmanageable (Park and Kim 2003).
As with CRM, the interaction management process is also highly dependent on the technological and human resources of a company (Zablah et al. 2004). For instance, CRM technology and the mobile medium enable personalized communication with customers who may be unreachable through other channels (Jelassi and Enders 2006). Irrespective of the potential of technology, humans as representatives have an indispensable role to play in interaction management. This is due to the fact that humans have a unique ability to understand individual customers and interact with customers in complex situations, such as customer complaints or customer acquisition (Payne and Frow 2004, Zablah et al. 2004). Within interaction management, communication (or information exchange) between the company and customers is considered critically important (e.g. Parvatiyar and Sheth 2001, Reinartz et al. 2004, Jayachandran et al. 2005, Palmatier et al. 2006). The emphasis CRM places on relationships are also redefining how companies communicate with their customers. Accordingly, the focus of the communication in CRM, contrary to that of transactional marketing, is not purely persuasive, instead it is more interactive and mutual between the company and customers (Duncan and Moriarty 1998, Heinonen and Stranvik 2005). Furthermore, in ideal circumstances CRM strives for communication with customers on an individual basis (Park and Kim 2003, Campbell 2003). For that, the mobile medium appears exceptionally well suited. As mentioned, companies need to manage and coordinate their interaction with customers across different channels (Thomas and Sullivan 2005, Payne and Frow 2005, Neslin et al. 2006). Therefore, the next section addresses the multichannel environment through which the company and customers interact with each other.
It is worth mentioning before continuing that although the process view of CRM is considered as the most appropriate underlying thought for communication through the mobile medium in CRM, it is acknowledged that the companies can use the mobile medium as a channel for CRM regardless of whether CRM is viewed within the company as a process, a technology, a philosophy, a strategy or a capability.
Most companies interact with their customers across several channels including, for instance, the internet, face-to-face channels and through call centers (Parvatiyar and Sheth 2001, Bradshaw and Brash 2001, Payne and Frow 2004, Thomas and Sullivan 2005). In parallel, customers have developed expectations of being able to choose the channel through which they interact with a company (Payne and Frow 2004). This development has led to a situation where supporting a range of channels (i.e. a multichannel environment) is a necessity for companies in most industries (Parvatiyar and Sheth 2001). Additionally, this has also challenged companies to manage this multichannel environment effectively (Neslin et al. 2006, Payne and Frow 2004). In CRM, the multichannel environment aims to establish an integrated and single understanding of the customer regardless of the communication channel the customers use (Park and Kim 2003, Payne and Frow 2005, Neslin et al. 2006). This enables for the companies to ensure that the customer experience is shared across all channels (Reinartz et al. 2004, Weinberg et al. 2007). Acquiring a better understanding of customers allows companies to interact, respond, and communicate more effectively with them (Chen and Popovich 2003). Payne and Frow (2004) separated a wide variety of channels utilized by companies into six categories based on the balance of physical or virtual contact. Accordingly, these channel categories can be considered as a continuum of forms of customer contact ranging from the physical (such as a face-to-face interaction) to the virtual (such as interaction through Internet or mobile medium) (Payne and Frow 2004). Based partially on their work, Sinisalo (2010) suggested in their research paper that the more appropriate way to describe the multichannel environment is as consisting of the following channels: 1) face-to-face, 2) telephony, 3) direct marketing, 4) self-service points, 5) the Internet, and 6) the mobile medium channels. The underlying assumption of the multichannel environment is that the use of only one channel may limit a company’s performance (Albesa 2007). Therefore, it is important for companies to establish a multichannel strategy for CRM that takes advantage of the different characteristics of each channel, allowing the company to overcome the inherent limitations of any single channel (Berman and Thelen 2004, Warrington et al. 2007).
The multichannel environment demands continuous evaluation of the most appropriate combination of channels (Payne and Frow 2004). Companies may, for instance, target cost reduction when making a decision, since the costs associated with many traditional channels involving personal contact, such as a sales force, are increasing (Bradshaw and Brash 2001, Payne and Frow 2004). Therefore, a common response of companies is to cut costs by increasing technology-enabled channels, such as the mobile medium, in which human interaction is substituted for or diminished by the use of technology (Walker et al. 2002). For instance, banks have directed customers towards using technology-enabled channels instead of branches for everyday transactions, such as checking balance, by changing the pricing basis of these kinds of services. Nevertheless, the use of technology-based channels in the context of CRM can be a double-edged sword (Colgate and Smith 2005). Issues may emerge from the technology itself or originate with customer attitudes or knowledge related to technology. For instance, the technology can malfunction, and even when the technology functions properly, customers may be very suspicious of it. Consequently, looking from the customer perspective, we might question the rationality of the growth of technology-enabled channels. Therefore, it is of critical importance that there is still a balance maintained between face-to-face and technology-enabled channels (Weinberg et al. 2007). It does not serve companies to make cost savings, if there is a significant reduction in customer perceived value as a result of the introduction of a new channel (Payne and Frow 2004).
Furthermore, the multichannel environment in the CRM consists of several channels and serves the company as a whole. In this multichannel environment, an individual channel may serve several purposes. However, the role is dependent, to a large part, on the unique characteristics of the channel in question, since it is those that determine the kind of activities, the purposes and the customer relationship phase in which the company may effectively utilize the channel. For instance, face-to-face channel represents a richest way of communication due to its ability to communicate, for instance, gestures and emotions (Daft and Lengel 1984). From companies’ perspective, this type of channels is most expensive to support, especially for minor issues. However, it is necessary for ambiguous tasks, such as customer complaints, and important customer segments (Payne and Frow 2004). Accordingly, the individual channel within this multichannel environment may serve different roles. The following discussion attempts to clarify this issue.
The role of individual channel
As mentioned above, companies cannot communicate identically across the different channels and, thus, some channels are more suited to, or more often used for, certain communications (Verhoef and Donkers 2005). Furthermore, it is of critical importance to acknowledge that different channels may serve different purposes (Neslin et al. 2006). It is sometimes forgotten that communication in CRM is not only about sales, but about marketing and service activities as well (Jayachandran et al. 2005, Xu et al. 2002). Bearing this in mind, one channel may function mostly as an information source for customers, while another channel may serve as the sales channel (Berman and Thelen 2004). Furthermore, marketing efforts in one channel can enhance sales through another channel (Neslin and Shankar 2009). This is especially inherent to direct marketing channels, such as television or radio, which permit only one-way communication, and are often used to direct the customers to others channels in order to complete a purchase. For instance, Customers may find information from the Internet and, thereafter, go to a bricks and mortar store in order to buy the product or service in question. Different channels may also be more appropriate in different phases of the customer relationship (Neslin and Shankar 2009). Companies often use different channels to acquire customers than they do to maintain customer relationships (Bolton et al. 2004, Verhoef and Donkers 2005). Several different channels are available to companies seeking to acquire new customers. Those acquisition channels most relevant to the multichannel environment presented here are direct marketing, the Internet and face-to-face channels (Bolton et al. 2004, Verhoef and Donkers 2005). The role of the individual channel may also be significant without it having a direct financial outcome. This is contrary to traditional research on the multichannel environment in the retailing context, where the evaluation is usually based on the economic contribution of each channel (see e.g. Deleersnyder et al. 2002, Neslin et al. 2006). To conclude the discussion, it is worth mentioning that in some instances the use of a particular channel may be neither desirable nor appropriate from the customer’s perspective. This is because not all customers are necessarily willing to communicate with the company through certain channels. Some customers may prefer face-to-face relationships, in spite of the opportunities presented by the technology, such as messaging-based communication through the mobile medium (Gwinner et al. 1998, Dibb and Meadows 2001, Gremler and Gwinner 2000).
Goals of CRM
As many authors have pointed out, CRM is implemented to achieve value for the company. The following figure, according to Heinze et. al. (2004), explains the value creation. According to the authors to this model, CRM starts of as an investment into customer relationships. As the process carries on, two paths can be identified to enhance the company’s value. The path will lead the company to an improved binding with the customers. This is however due to high probability that the customer choose to approach the affiliated company and due to the invested competitive advantage done by confident partners. The right path will however lead the company to be better informed about potential customers which can selectively be addressed, issues like customer demands and requirements. The company will then have an economically advantage and act more efficiently as a result of this. The authors continues with, both the competitive advantage and the economically advantage enhance the company value compared to competitors (Heinze et al., 2004).
The IS development process for adopting CRM system: The IS development process for adopting CRM system The development of an information system (IS), are composed of several important process factors and the figure below shows how these are connected, according to Kim (2004). The process factors, defined by the author are organizational commitment, project management, strategy and process, technology, which will determine the consequences of an IS development.
Organizational commitment: The process of IS development begins with commitment from the organization, with an executive-level “champion” (Kim, 2004). As shown in the model, this person has the role to initiate the two first process factors. These are the adequate investment on both financial and human resources, and the influence on the stakeholders from a managerial-level. Management support is critical for the project to succeed, but also to encourage the participation of the users. Encouragement is shown through top-level support, and through selecting and assigning skilled personnel to the project (Kim, 2004).
Project management: A settled commitment from the organization with invested resources to the project ensures a high level of variety of skilled team members (Kim, 2004). To effectively balance the IT and business skills, a cross-functional project team is made. The team should be sufficiently skilful to manage requirements for this project, which are CRM process and functions, goals and directions, as well as IT user’s technological requirements. This management of requirements are therefore influenced by user participation, management support, and project team skills.
Strategy and process: In order for the project team to design CRM processes, a clear CRM strategy must be defined, which in turn is influenced by the management requirements, regarding CRM goals and directions. That is the CRM strategy guides the CRM process development. Detailed requirements from users will however complete the CRM process by defining necessary process and functional issues. Therefore, the requirements from users also influence the CRM process development (Kim, 2004).
Technology: Both the CRM process which is a sequence of the CRM activities across functional areas, and the technological requirements influence the system design. Because the project team should have sufficient skills to design the IS, the team also influence the system design. This is made by reflecting the requirements in the design effectively. System design will then in turn influence both system integration and system functionality. The system integration includes source systems integration, channel integrations, and the integration between new and legacy systems. The system’s functionality includes both specific functions it provides and how well it executes them.
Implementing CRM system will have major effect and changes on the company (Kim, 2004), in process, technology, and people and their roles. The project team has therefore an important role in managing these changes, both during the project’s duration and after its implementation. As such, the project team skills also influence change management.
Consequences: As shown in the model, both system integration and system functionality have an influence of the quality of the IS. The system functionality influence the IS quality, by determining the usefulness of the system and how well the system performs. According to Kim (2004), a higher user satisfaction depends on how high information and system quality are. A system with high information and system quality will ensure a positive impact on the organization. The impact on the organization will therefore be determined based on how well the CRM process was conducted. Change management and the IS quality have also an influence for the use of the new system. The author also said that a high IS quality alone does not motivate users to adopt the system. Users need to understand the need of the new system and the new processes. Effective change management along with high IS quality can lower users’ resistance and motivate them to use the new system (Kim, 2004).
“Mobile customer relationship management (m-CRM) can be defined as utilizing mobile medium (i.e., mobile phone, smart phone or PDA) for the purpose of managing customer relationships and activate customers to start dialogue with company via mobile medium”(Sinisalo j et al. 2006). In other words, a structured method by which mobile market can be entered into the CRM field with mobile phone users. Mobile value added, the perception of customer satisfaction is promoted on strengthening a long-term customer relationship. Internet CRM allows customers to access company services from more than one place. Mobile-CRM allows customers or managers to access the systems for instance from a mobile phone or PDA with internet access, resulting in high flexibility. This M-CRM is not able to provide a complete range of customer relationship activities it should be integrated in the complete CRM system.
Contact, could be one-way or interactive, which is related to marketing, sales and customer service activities conducted through mobile medium for the purpose of building and maintaining customer relationships between a company and its customers. There are many reasons those are responsible for diffusion of mobile CRM. The first is that mobile companies are advancing their features rapidly to compete in the market, now Displays are larger and clearer and access times on networks are improving overall. And these new smart-phones are very compatible with CRM software. Finally, now folk is also becoming more educated and use-to this smart-phone technology.
Before launching m-CRM there are few things that company should keep in mind.
- The mobile CRM system must be able to grow and change with the business.
- A few main things to consider are screen size, device storage and security.
- Mobile application testing is mostly to ensure that the users and stakeholders all approve of the new system.
There are a few advantages of using mobile applications to maintain your customer relationships. Those are written down:
Changes Take Effect immediately: that, mobile CRM allows you to make changes on the go that immediately take effect back at the office.
Better Customer Relationships: If company can build developed and better customer relationships by staying in touch while on the go than company can create a sustainable customer base and business growth.
With The mobile channel firm can create a more personal direct connection with customers. And it can give customer the opportunity to act quickly.
It supports loyalty between the customer and firm, which improves and strengthens relationships.
Like everything that has positive points there are always some negative points to contemplate before trying to make a decision. And in M-CRM , Designing, creating and implementing IT projects has always been risky. Not only because of the amount of money that is involved, but also because of the high chances of failure. So there are few disadvantages that are written below;
Business data Security Concerns: business data security is of great importance to the integrity of the business. And mobile devices are now of target for data breaches. This becomes an anxiety when it comes to using mobile CRM apps while in the field.
Reliability: The motive of an M-CRM app is for everyone to communicate on the same page in terms of customer status, inventory availability, product location, and other concerns when dealing with the customer base. If a reliable platform has been built, then this should not be a concern however. If the system has several different apps trying to communicate with one another, this could result in a system that is unstable.
System Failure: system failure leads to Business data loss, and this is a major concern for all businesses and because the mobile CRM apps are technology, they can be prone to failure. But this risk can be removed if business reserves a backup plan. (Leith D. 2011)
small business mobile CRMs
Small business CRM software is used to store customer information like customer basic information, name, residence address, contact information and also the product availed of. After that some more information that normally every small business tries to keep in record like, last time called, concern, date of resolution, number of complaints made, type of complaint and disbursement dates. And this all information can be accessed by PC, but if business man is able to access the information and can react on this information or can use this information via smart phone is called small business crm. In other words M-CRM is typically designed for users such as marketing or sales personnel who mostly require remote access to the company’s core CRM application. Mobile CRM can be an expansion of the in-house deployed CRM, accessed using a thin client application over a secure VPN connection, or a cloud CRM accessed through a mobile Web browser. (techopedia.com, 2013) and small mobile CRM app means that, this app must undergo a few tweaks to make information brief and better arranged to allow a slower processor to view and select data with ease. So that person on phone can easily access and react on the information.
The mobile medium use to manage customer relationship, which brings new transactions possibilities but also few new challenges. For a successful M-CRM, a stable technological infrastructure is required. Hence, Mobile CRM is integrated to the existing customers and CRM activities and it is supported by the technological infrastructure of the mobile medium system CRM implementation strategy; keys to crm implementation success
CRM is not just about technology but it is about people and processes – supported by technology. While implementing technology there are important prerequisites to finding and installing CRM technology. And these prerequisites will focus on people and processes. In small and medium sized businesses You need an implementation methodology that you can accomplish with the resources you already have in place. however, the system will only be successful if it is fully accepted by your CRM users. To ensure user acceptance— and a successful implementation— follow the change management strategies described below.
Project Team Commitment
Make sure all team members are committed to the project’s success. This is particularly important in small to medium sized companies where most or all of the project team will be assigned this project in addition to their existing duties. Make sure that team members are allowed to spend the appropriate amount of time to make the project a success.
Assigned project manager should be strong and focused on Customer Service and/or Sales and Marketing. Business processes should be more important than software, hardware or network.
Planning and Business Process Analysis
Use a “Model Office” installation to test the business processes against the unmodified CRM software and determine where to customize and where to change processes and chosen solution. During this review, the project team demonstrates the Model Office configuration they have developed to a broader user review committee.
It could be useful to hire a facilitator to assist with business process Analysis and redesign according to the situation. Before choosing outside facilitator chose one whose expertise is business processes. And that person must be able to make recommendations based on experience helping other companies implement customer facing processes.
To get success, List all the things that would fit in the blank in this sentence: “I will know this implementation has been successful when_______.” after that measure all decision against the list. Then document the goals you intend to reach through the implementation of the product and then later document when you have achieved those goals.
Each and every person involved in this project need to be trained. Make sure that the team is trained before they start making decisions about the implementation. Also make sure that CRM administrator is trained enough. Training can enhance User acceptance and efficiency. Training needs to focus not only on how the product operates, but how manager wants company specific tasks to be done using the software. Many company skip this part (training) just to control the budget but This is the biggest mistake they made that can significantly reduce the benefits the system was designed to produce. (Epicor Software Corporation, 2005)
Future of mobile CRM in 2013 and beyond
In 2013 mobile CRM will finally take off, as all types of businesses continue to hire remote workers and give them devices that support mobile versions of reliable CRM applications. Due to technological change workers may use a smartphone or a tablet but they won’t need both anymore. Because companies bringing all these activities into one comprehensive system and get considerably more hold of their work status, business relationships and, ultimately, their profitability and productivity. Now, the world is coming where the small and medium business are networked and exchanging value, through the shared workplace. On the other hand, in the past, companies were happy to collect weekly or monthly status reports on their projects. But now, every business wants immediate, transparent communication, live project updates, and status reports anytime, anywhere. Consequently, the ability to use CRM and project management tools from any mobile device is become essential. Mobile enables everyone to be on track and engaged from any time at any place. For instance, a salesperson can post the status of a lead right in the feed. The project manager may update tasks, employees can attach files, and clients are able to approve expenses or invoice.
Comparison of mCRM to eCRM:
The Major difference between Mcrm and Ecrm is communication media. Basically Ecrm relates to the former or traditional method of using computers and laptops to collect customer information and offer customised solutions through websites or ecommerce sites, using various opportunities available on the internet. On the other hand Mcrm is quite new in the market. Actually it is based on the principle of one to one marketing through mobile medium. The emerging technology of smart phones made them more efficient than ever. Like, now people can carry out all the activities related to the Internet on the mobile medium. But the point is how well CRM can be carried out on a mobile medium. That is the reason why this dissertation making the comparison between them and concluding weather Mcrm is able to perform all the tasks similar or efficiently as compared to Ecrm.
Four steps for an effective mobile CRM implementation
It is true that not long ago, integration of company CRM system with mobile devices was really costly. But it is not true anymore.now companies come to know the need for accessible training and the value of an “up and down” approach as opposed to a top-down approach to implementation. The same thing is happening in implementing mobile CRM applications on mobile devices, if these key points are kept in mind:
- Create a comprehensive plan, complete with a detailed blueprint.
- Don’t assume anything, e.g., just because field reps are skilful at checking and sending emails doesn’t necessarily mean they will know how to get the best out of mobile CRM in an intuitive manner.
- Get users and upper management on board with the initiative as soon as possible.
There are necessary 4-steps to effectively integrating CRM systems and mobile devices:
Needs analysis phase(step 1)
This is like a homework stage so do not rush this stage.This is the point to take your times and understand all the technical desires and needs for each of the stakeholders and users. It also has to be kept in mind that the mobile CRM system must be able to change and grow with the business
The mobile design phase (step 2)
After the needs analysis phase, this is the next critical phase that will show all the technical concerns that need to be addressed, because of some mobile devise limitations. A few main things to consider are screen size, device storage, technical concerns regarding security, authentication and data input of sensitive or proprietary information.
Integrating a strong CRM system with mobile devices, first thing is to determine that what data is most important to display after that develop appropriate screens to view it within the limitations of the mobile device. Also give users the option to work off-line with as much data as needed.
The mobile application testing phase (step-3)
It works mostly to ensure that the users and stakeholders all approve of the new system.
The motive of this phase is to get user acceptance through education. Normally, trained and prepared beta tester group starts to implement a new and improved mobile CRM system. But this group must also be able to serve as champions of CRM mobile integration. And make sure the mobile infrastructure and software meet the project objectives and goals. Try to test the configuration of the live application server environment and security.
According to practical standpoint, avoid the common mistake of speculating that mobile-device users can utilize mobile CRM applications with little-to-no preparation and technical training. These Extended capabilities (through Web services) can be tricky for first-time users, and therefore interactive, accessible training is a must.
In the implementation process, always remember to deliver prototypes to the end-user community. This will give them the flexibleness to request changes so that IT can make adjustments to ensure that the mobile CRM applications will work the way it should be. This process importantly increases end-user adoption.
The mobile rollout phase (step-4)
This is come when the new system is applied and when training on the final product is done with all users. In this step try to avoid the biggest challenge for new end users “confinement.” Users those who are habituated to CRM on a PC with all its features like, large screen, keyboard, dashboards and expansive database, often find a difficulty when using a large program on a mobile device normally reserved for contacts, email and phone calls. To avoid this problem always make sure the third-party vendor installing mobile CRM is experienced at training end users until they are comfortable with the application.
The purpose of this chapter is to develop a theoretical framework of mCRM communication. Accordingly, this chapter gives an overview of the previous discussions and, on that basis, discusses mobile CRM communication more profoundly. The purpose is, thus, to enhance understanding of the key concept of this study. However, it is concurrently acknowledged that this framework is not an exhaustive one but very context-bound as are other theories as well. Therefore, this framework is not necessarily applicable to all industries and all contexts within all countries as such. Instead, it is considered as a foundation for further examination of this phenomenon under investigation in different contexts. In this study, it is argued that the concept of m-CRM involves following features:
- Communication, either one-way or interactive, for the purpose of being a part of building and maintaining customer relationships between a company and its customer
- The communication refers to sales, marketing, and customer service activities conducted through the mobile medium between the company and the customer
- Communication can be initiated by either the company or the customer
- Communication refers to messaging based communication, such as SMS and MMS, through the mobile medium, making a difference to mobile Internet browsing, and to voice calls through a mobile phone or landline.
- At least one of the parties engaged in communication must be human and, naturally, communicate through the mobile medium
To accurately define the mCRM concept, it is also critical to establish how it relates to CRM. In this study, mobile CRM communication is seen as a part of the process view of CRM. Therefore, CRM has a vital role as an underlying thought in this study. Accordingly, the purpose of this communication is to be part of building and maintaining customer relationships by being beneficial rather than persuasive for customers. Furthermore, mobile CRM, as a part of CRM, has long term focus on customers and, thus, communication is predominantly continuous and interactive with the customers. In ideal circumstances, the communication occurs at the point the customer needs it. This implies that mobile CRM does not take a short-term, transactional perspective on communication. Accordingly, the focus of the communication in CRM, contrary to that in transactional marketing, is not purely persuasive, but interactive and mutually beneficial between the company and customers (Duncan & Moriarty 1998, Heinonen & Stranvik 2005).
Basically, the mobile medium is one channel among others in CRM. Accordingly, the mobile medium performs essentially the same function as any other channel in CRM. While the channels share the purpose of CRM, the different channels have certain distinguishing characteristics. These characteristics of particular channels largely determine which activities can be serviced by a specific channel. On the one hand, the mobile medium lacks the ability to provide a complete range of activities from the companies (Nysveen et al. 2005). This is, in large part, due to the mobile medium having a limited set of visual and audio capabilities (Jelassi & Enders 2006). In addition, messaging based communication, especially text messages, enables very lean communication (see Daft & Lengel 1986). On the other hand, the mobile medium, for instance, provides reach beyond any other channel including the Internet. Therefore, it is argued in this study that the challenges and possibilities of utilizing the mobile medium in managing customer relationships are unique. Despite its limitations, the mobile medium acts as an enabler for each functional areas of CRM (i.e. marketing, sales and service). In practice, companies have utilized the mobile medium most often in relation to service activities throughout different industries in CRM. For instance, the customers of the Cineplex can receive their movie tickets by SMS message or a consignee can receive notification of an incoming delivery from a parcel courier service. In many cases, it is difficult to distinguish between the different functional areas when it comes to messaging based communication through the mobile medium. For instance, a local organization sends an SMS message when customers’ subscriptions are expiring. The customer can then renew the subscription simply by replying to the message. As noted, a simple text message basically covers all functional areas of CRM. The service area emerges from the reminder for the customer that the subscription is expiring. At the same time, the communication can be considered as marketing related with the purpose of selling something. Finally, the communication is sales related at the very least if the receiver replies to the message. These examples demonstrate the unique qualities of messaging communication through the mobile. The inevitable prerequisite for this kind of communication is that the company has the customer’s information – meaning – at least the mobile phone number and permission to communicate through mobile medium. Companies can then communicate in relation to CRM activities with the identified customers. In addition, the company can provide various kinds of personalized services only when the company has information about its customers’ needs and preferences. Finally, it is of critical importance for the company to somehow convince the customers that the communication through the mobile medium is useful and, above all, beneficial for them.