Prospects for connecting and personalizing

There was a considerable enthusiasm for using the internet to tighten customer relationships. Between 32 and 43 percent of all B2B respondents saw major opportunities to:

• encourage customer feedback and dialogue;

• facilitate linking more points of customer contact (which is the central appeal of CRM); and

• permit the personalization of marketing messages.

These results are at odds with criticisms that efforts to use the internet to personalize customer relationships are misguided, because nothing can match person-to-person communications. In this jaundiced view, the efforts to extract patterns in clickstream data, then make predictions based on past behavior, and construct deep customer profiles to guide personalized marketing messages will continue to stumble over software problems, consumer indifference and privacy concerns (Usborne, 2001).

While these criticisms do sting, they overlook the experience of best practice companies who have learned how to use the internet. For example, the internet has already pushed deeply into business markets ranging from commodity chemicals (see the indented text below on [email protected]) to expensive, mission-critical items like power transformers and diagnostic-imaging devices. Radiologists using GE's CT scanners and MRI machines can go to the internet and try out new GE software that increases the efficiency of spinal exams. If they like what they see they can order the software for $65,000 (Colvin, 2001). They are likely to make the purchase

George S. Day and Katrina J. Bens

Table I Judging the impact of the internet on customer relationships

Major threat (%) Minor threat (%) No impact (%) Minor opportunity (%) Major opportunity (%) Average scorea

Expands set of competitors

B2B 9 50

B2C 8 37 Increases channel conflict

B2B 7 33

B2C 6 6 Facilitates customers switching

B2B 6 38

B2C 3 35 Enables customers to conduct reverse auctions

B2B 7 31

B2C 0 11

29 29

54 77

41 3D

46 86

Customers can form buying groups to get quantity discounts

B2B 6 27 55

B2C 1 8 84 Prices can be changed rapidly

B2B 7 19 55

B2C 1 9 72 Customers are able to propose prices

B2B 4 14 67

B2C 3 14 78 Customers can learn what other customers are thinking

- makes it harder for customers to switch 11 55

11 58

1D 2D

4 11

13 3D

14 3

17 12

13 5

28 38

22 23

41 28

35 28

B2B 2 18 47

B2C 3 12 36 Increases "stickiness" B2B 1 B2C 0 Reduces customers' search costs

B2B 4 10 34

B2C 1 11 39 Customers can design products to their specific requirements

B2B 0 1 49

B2C 0 4 57 Reduces customer service costs because customers can self-serve

B2C 0 7 44 32 Permits the customization of marketing messages

B2C 1 7 8 32 Encourages customer feedback and dialogue

B2C 0 5 7 35 Facilitates linking more points of customer contact

B2C 1 5 4 36 Overall, what is the effect of the internet on your ability to manage customer relationships?

5 11

1D 2D

14 11

25 17

43 53

Notes: Number of responses and percent of responses by question. Totals may not equal 100 percent due to rounding error.a "Average score" was computed by averaging the responses where major threat = 1, minor threat = 2, no impact = 3, minor opportunity = 4, major opportunity = 5. * Mean difference at 0.05 (using a two-tailed t-test)

about 65 percent of the time without ever talking to a salesperson.

[email protected]

Before the internet, customers had to deal with Dow Chemical the way Dow was organized; rigid and siloed. But customers really wanted an easy one stop source of information, assistance and ordering. For example; to get spec sheets on products, customers had to call Dow and request specific specification sheets. These were then mailed to the customers. A few days later, upon receiving the spec sheets, the customer might realize the products

George S. Day and Katrina J. Bens

0 0

Post a comment