Gaining knowledge is becoming a mainstream important differentiator in adding competitive advantage (Tzokas & Saren, 2004), that is why it’s relatively importance for any knowledge that is involve about the customer is to be managed and depend upon by the whole organisation involvement (Adebanjo, 2003). Bose (2002) point out that to gain this competitive advantage, there would need to shift from mass marketing and traditional customer segmentation towards customer centric orientation and individualised marketing, which is centred at treading every customer uniquely and accordingly to their personal preference.
Gebert et al (2003) has classified knowledge management into three categories that is directly involving the customer.
Knowledge for customers
This knowledge involves the CRM process that is aim to satisfy the customer with the information needs, which include the knowledge about the product or service, markets and suppliers.
Knowledge about customers
This knowledge involves the understanding about the customer motivation and how to address to their personalised needs, which included the customer histories, contact points, requirements, expectations, and their purchasing behaviour.
Knowledge from customers
This knowledge involves the interactions with the customer about their knowledge of products, suppliers, and the market. This knowledge could be gathered to sustain continuous improvement or new product developments.
Managing knowledge is not the only thing that would make most enterprise survive in this highly competitive business environment and combining with this period of great recession (Grossberg, 2009), knowledge management could exist basically as a support process. The inherent value in knowledge that is oriented around the customer is to merge the weakness and strengths of both types, either epistemology or ontology, perspectives to formulate a high synergy potential of how knowledge is to be managed. Where epistemology would be investigating the nature of knowledge itself and ontology would represent a systematic account of existence. A hybrid of knowledge management models that focus on the three dimensional knowledge that is encompassing customers in order to generate value for other processes and activities management to successes in the relationship marketing discipline strategically model.
Funnel sales process management
The concept in managing CRM process was first developed by Schmid (2001) in his thesis works and was further enhance by Gebert et al (2003) into a process of six steps, which we can divide into two period of customer acquisition and retention (Yu & Cai, 2007). This concept combines with Yu & Cai (2007) propose that customer centric could be comprise into a funnel model. CRM goal is to let customer move down the funnel process, the more efficient their move along through the funnel, then the more the graphical presentation of the funnel would show in parallel when the size of each process is determine by the number of customer advancing through the funnel tube. Furthermore, making the funnel a circular loop would mean that customers would be retain and continue into the sales process again (Figure 2.1), therefore decreasing the customer acquisition cost. Thus, in order to achieve this, an increased in customer satisfaction must be made. Cho and Fjermestad (2003) has pointed out that increasing customer satisfaction will be the likelihood to enable customer to purchase again and/or induce other potential customers to enter the customer life cycle, through either testimonials or word-of-month effects. For business that uses ECRM as a business strategy which utilised technology to tie together all aspects in the strategic value chain with the goal to retain customer in the long-term. Jukic et al (Jukic et al, 2003) stress that ECRM is to work in practical terms is with the ability to manage customer interaction at all level and channels.
True that technology inherit from using ECRM as a strong point would show in the process of acquiring, retaining, and growing profitable customers (Hanson, 2000). But it will require a clear focus on the factor attributes that would represent value and drive customer through the customer cycle. Furthermore, ECRM would involve the ability to attract and keep economically valuable customer while on the other hand filtering out economically non-valuable ones.
Although the technological standpoint that ECRM has introduced is crucially important for a business, but a clear cut on the process that involve in retaining customers and factors would enable valuable customers to advance though the sales process is equally important as well. This is where would we be focusing our attention on to determine what factors that would accomplish this goal apart from utilising technology as that main advantage point.
The funnel sales process will consist of six processes as following this paragraph and the factor that contribute the success in forwarding the customer to advance through the sales process cycle as seen in Figure 2.2;
- Campaign management (starting point)
- Lead management
- Offer management
- Contract management
- Complaint management
- Service management (ending point and re-enter into the cycle)
Figure 2.1 CRM Circular funnel sales process management
This is the starting point in relationship management, where customers are first capture into the sales process. Gebert et al (2003) have considered that campaign management as the core in marketing process that implements the ideas in relationship marketing. We would need to define it as the planning, realization, control and monitoring of marketing activities that is the product from your opportunities, channel, and interaction management, which is aimed at potential prospect that are either exist or will induce into the sales process. Marketing campaigns are to be individualised (Peppers & Rogers, 1993) by using different communication channels, and for feedback from the prospect with at least one communication channel could be offered would allow interaction with the customer. The success of the campaign could be triggered by numerous circumstances, which would carry the prospect through to the lead management. Among these known factors would be the acknowledgement of the brand (Hayes et al, 2006), customer having a demand or needs in the offering (Gronroos, 1996), having created trust build upon experience (Lee & Trim, 2006), communication channel in which the prospect preferred (Kapoulas et al, 2002), product/service that have leading innovation (Lagrosen, 2005), and compatibility from ecosystem engendered from the market leadership position (Lindgreen et al, 2009).