To any profitable or non-profitable organization, business or institution, the consumers, or rather customers of the products and services are the most critical asset, and this makes their needs, perceptions, and satisfaction of the services or products they receive crucial. It is for this reason that such enterprises often strive to, only make their services and product irresistible, but to also ensure the customers are well taken care of, are satisfied, and that their needs are promptly catered for. This bit of business management and strategic planning brings forth the issue of customer relationship management, CRM, a fraction of the business management plan that entirely deals with the building and maintenance of healthy customer relationships with an aim of stirring customer loyalty and hence secure long-term profitability from the established relationship (Padmavathy et al., 2012). The customer relationship management majorly focuses on the satisfaction and retention of customers, and hence a majority of their strategies and steps are aimed towards these two aspects. Like any strategic move by business enterprises, the CRM commences with the collecting of data, feedback, and information from the consumers to gauge their satisfaction as well as evaluate their retention rate. This, however, does not end at the collection process, as the information has to be processed, analyzed, and strategies formulated depending on the outcome of the analysis. The approach must also be evaluated to gauge its profitability, effectiveness, and ability to bring out the desired results. While a majority of the CRM is done via traditional ways, as in the looking up of customer records, sampling their feedback and so on, technology has offered the management yet another platform, the social media, that would enable businesses to get to their consumers online, deliver the goods and services, evaluate their satisfaction through ratings and feedback, and come up with ways to mend broken trust and dissatisfaction. This paper, therefore, seeks to explore the world of customer relationship management, take a look at customer retention and satisfaction, evaluate the need and success of the CRM, and further explore the use of social media as a tool for assessing the satisfaction and retention of customers.
Customer relationship management, as earlier stated, is primarily held in two facets, customer retention, and customer satisfaction. The former, according to Keiningham et al., is the continuation of corporate relationships between businesses and buyers of their goods and services, with the aim of establishing life-long profitability (2007). Customer satisfaction, on the other hand, is a relative aspect of business management, and it entails a measure of what has been delivered to the customers against what was anticipated by them. A business must, therefore, strive as much as possible to get as close as they can to the anticipation of their consumers, and thus gradually yet successful retain them for as long as time dictates. Customers are regular human beings with varied needs and preferences. Businesses must hence ensure they anticipate for these needs, evaluate their nature and come up with strategies that aim at meeting these need head-on. The CRM, therefore, takes into consideration the aspects of marketing, service delivery, sales, and logistics. While the complicated bits of the CRM are vital, all its strategies commence from the point of "who are my customers?" and "how can their needs be met?" By getting to the base of these two questions, it is, therefore, possible for any firm to come up with services and goods that will be of maximum utility to the consumers, and in return guarantee the business the loyalty and confidence of their clients.
Reflection and Observation
Communication plays a vital tool on the CRM processes and strategies, as this is the only way the business can get to understand their clients and the clients get to express their satisfaction, dissatisfaction, rage, happiness, anger, and disappointment to the management, and at the end of the day, both sides can get to gain from the two-way communication. The advent of technology brought forth social media as one of the significant forms of communication, and one that has found vast applicability in businesses. Kaplan and Haenlein, in one of their articles, regarded social media as a collection of Internet-based applications that allow for the exchange of content generated by users (2010). By conforming to this modernity, businesses are assured of having a comparative advantage over their competitors. Social media, therefore, offers an online platform where companies can popularize their manifesto, market their goods and develop healthy relationships with their online clients, and this makes it a crucial CRM tool. Businesses are able to establish their official sites where consumers can make their orders, and have their goods or services delivered to them. This tool could also prove lethal to businesses, more so with cases of the negative word of mouth (WOM) by the online clients, as well as poor ratings. Online forms of communication mostly eradicate the contact between the client and the business, and this might encourage the users to say whatever they want to say, regardless of the repercussions such actions could have on the wellbeing of the company. Customer revenge is yet another issue that emerges from social media, as a consumer might resort to brutal retaliation in response to poor services of goods offered to them by a firm. This revenge could take the WOM form, boycotting of products and services or exiting the firm and moving to other suboptimal alternatives. This, therefore, necessitated for the need of a social customer relationship management, SCRM, as a strategic way of managing and retaining social media customers by engaging them on conversations that would ultimately lead to the betterment of services and goods directed to their end (Harrigan et al., 2011). It is therefore crucial that the SCRM phenomenon is crucially analyzed to see how well it can be utilized to promote excellent customer relationships as well as promote businesses to thrive.
Social Customer Relationship Management, SCRM
Social media has offered a broad customer base for companies, and this has made about 86% of the 100 largest companies to engage with their customers through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and through blogs (Deepa & Deshmukh, 2013). This engagement guarantees them interactions with their customers as they engage in one-on-one conversations and consultations. They also get to collaborate with them and are assured of transparency. Businesses have therefore taken center stage in utilizing social media, not only as a platform for building virtual communities but also as an avenue for creating innovative social commerce groups, undertake customer research and improving their care. To manage the information and conversations from social media, businesses develop their CRM software to enable them, stream the conversations, fish out the relevant information and process this information to finally come up with meaningful analyses and conclusions. SCRM provides the enterprises with improved peer-to-peer interactions when it comes to offering customer support and avails market feedback for research. They are also given the power to manage the ideas that flow to and from their clients, and get to position and promote their brand. Products can also be launched through social media, as opposed to the traditional launches where the businesses are located. SCRM enables firms and companies to attain maximum customer base, acquire developmental strategies and increase customer loyalty.
Healthcare Customer Relationship Management, HCRM
The healthcare systems have also not been left behind as they are gradually adapting the customer relationship management. About seven years ago, the issue of CRM was viewed as a misplaced strategy, as it was deemed unethical to look at patients as customers (Druckenmiller, 2018). Therefore, the CRM faced numerous ethical battles and resistance, more so in the healthcare setups. However, patients, just like other customers for other services have needs that must be considered and catered for. This, therefore, made the customer relationship management software designers to re-evaluate their strategy with the aim of coming up with something that would be easily integrated into the health industry. This led to the formation of the healthcare CRM (HCRM), a tool that would enable healthcare providers to pinpoint customers likely to be in need of healthcare services. The HCRM has a database, within which the patient's profile is embedded, and hence provide an avenue for the advancement and improvement of the patient-healthcare provider relationship. The HCRM likewise avails the feedback and preferences of patients and hence pinpoints the weaknesses of a health care firm that may make a patient prefer another firm as opposed to theirs. It also helps marketers to find, guide and keep patients through their patient lifecycle, and not just in their first encounter. The HCRM do not function in isolation, but employ other software like the Electronic Health Records (EHR), marketing automation platforms (MAP), Content Management Systems (CMS), phone lines for patients and a content rationalization system (CRS) to secure real-time data essential for creating and maintaining customer relationships.
A Case Study of the Brooklyn Hospital Center
The Brooklyn Hospital Center, TBHC, is one of the oldest hospitals in New York's Brooklyn city, founded in 1845. Working in the healthcare facility at the home care department for 13 years granted me a chance to witness an evolution from the traditional customer relationship management to modern ways of engaging the patients and catering for their needs. The home care department is a department designed to offer healthcare services to patients with special needs at the comforts of their homes. These individuals are the likes of the elderly, the physically disabled, those in post-operational recovery as well as the chronically ill. The experience was mind blowing, as I realized that the patients had so much expectations and needs apart from the medical care they sought. Some needed help with their appointments, others with their payment details, directions and many other services. While a majority of the customer services are done manually, TBHC recently launched an electronic health records systems in its ambulatory sites, known as Epic, which would provide an integrated care system while enabling the patients to have consistent digital access to their health information. This system makes it easier for the healthcare providers, those dealing with inpatients, outpatients as well as those categorized in the home care systems, to get access to the relevant patient information that will boost their services towards them. By switching to epic, healthcare providers are able to streamline services such as billing, scheduling, and population health initiatives. Patients, on the other hand, have can access a digital portal referred to as MyChart @ Brooklyn Health which enables them and their caregivers to gain access to the health information, schedule appointments, communicate with healthcare providers and pay bills via their computers and smartphones at any hour of day (The Brooklyn hospital center, 2018). TBHC similarly runs a social media customer relationship management via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to engage its online customers. This is managed by the marketing department as a way of engaging consumers of healthcare and establish customer relationships.
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