Customer Management Strategies

Customer Management Strategies

Until the beginning of the last decade, companies worldwide still largely believed that it was sufficient to produce high-quality products and leave innovation to the research and development departments. Customer needs and experiences were not given priority.

In the meantime, the way in which customers are involved in corporate decisions has changed significantly. The economy changed from agricultural (until the beginning of industrialization around the middle of the 19th century) to the industrial economy (until mass production began around the middle of the 20th century) and the service oriented economy (until the spread of the PC and the Internet) towards the end of the 20th century) towards the experience economy. Following table shows the development and the associated changes in the requirements for companies in order to be successful.

Differentiation of the economic stages
Offer Materials Goods Services Experiences
Economy Agricultural Industrial Service oriented Experience oriented
Function Take Produce Deliver Stage
Nature Replaceable Concrete Immaterial Unforgetable
Attribute Natural Standardised Custom Personal
Delivery Mass storage Stored after production Delivered on request Revealed over time
Seller Dealer Manufacturer Provider Promoter
Buyer Market User Customer Guest
Requirement Characteristics Features Addes value Enthusiasm

Since the beginning of the 21st century, this has resulted in the attempts to place customers and their wishes, requirements and expectations at the center of strategic decisions. These include relationship marketing-based and meanwhile established even not yet exhausted customer relationship management, the up-and-coming customer knowledge management, which draws the attention of business and science, and the still scientifically almost untouched customer experience management. All three are customer-centric or customer-oriented management approaches, the naming of which already suggests similarities, but which differ significantly in their objectives and implementation.

The word management approaches is chosen at this point to make it clear that entire companies have to be aligned accordingly in order to be able to pursue the goals of the respective strategy. Without full management support, any implementation of these approaches is doomed to fail. There is only a chance of success if the customer orientation is exemplified by every management level.

In the quality management model EFQM, customer orientation is one of the most heavily weighted or sometimes even the highest weighted test criteria. The St. Gallen concept for integrated quality management also uses the gap model to describe the importance of customer satisfaction and the actual customer experience for measuring the quality of a service provided.

Knowledge and economic articles and essays occasionally show differences between two of the strategies, either CRM and CKM or CRM and CEM. However, all three approaches have not yet been scientifically compared.