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eDiss - School of Business dissertations
|Title:||Customer Care in System Business|
|Series:||Acta Universitatis oeconomicae Helsingiensis. A, ISSN 1237-556X; 233|
|Year:||2004 Thesis defence date: 2004-06-01|
|Index terms:||Asiakashallinta; Asiakkaat; Customer relationship management; Customers; Palvelut; Public relations; Service; Suhdetoiminta; Technology; Teknologia|
|Bibid:||603462 | Availability info (Aalto-Finna)|
|Abstract (eng):||The Study focuses on the phenomenon called customer care, which is widely known and used in the technology business and consulting literature. However, no existing theoretical concept was capable of capturing the dynamic nature of customer care. Nevertheless, parts of the phenomenon were already discussed in various research areas: System selling, technology supplier’s service marketing and value-based relationships and networks. In this study, the dynamic nature of customer care required that both customer and supplier perspectives were described. On one hand, the Study explored the system supplier’s roles for the customer. On the other hand, the impact of the customer’s strategies on the system supplier was analysed.
This abductive study aimed at a conceptual integration by combining the theoretical discussions and the empirical findings. The empirical research consisted of two parts. Firstly, an exploratory pilot study was made with seven suppliers to complement the overall understanding of the focal phenomenon. Secondly, the main empirical study was made in cooperation with two system suppliers from ICT and engineering industries. Particularly, a longitudinal case analysis of seven customer relationships was made, which enabled the identification of the dynamics in the customers’ needs for care. The customer interviews were made in five Central European countries.
As a result, the Study defined customer care as an integrated and proactive approach which ensures that customers can fully utilise the benefits of the supplier’s value proposition. The Study suggests that the care activities include warranties, support and maintenance services, system extensions and consulting services. The results indicated that intelligent coordination mechanisms, especially the linkages among care activities, include many underutilised opportunities for the system suppliers.
Based on the results for the Study, a dynamic interactive care model between the system supplier and the customer was introduced in the network context. The Study showed that the system supplier might have three roles for the customer: Equipment/material supplier, solution provider and performance provider. It seems that the customer’s capabilities and resources, in addition to business strategy, might directly affect the supplier’s role. Contrary to the pre-assumptions, the customer’s choice between multiple and single sourcing policy does not seem to have any direct impact.
The Study suggests that in long-term relationships the supplier needs to frequently adjust the value proposition parallel with changes in the customer’s strategy. A proactive approach might ensure a major role also when the knowledge gap between the supplier and the customer has narrowed. Therefore, the supplier should be able to provide either more sophisticated extensions and services or new approaches, for instance shared resources and/or revenues, to increase his role for the ‘old’ customer.
|Thesis defence announcement:|
|Opponents:||Gemuenden, Hans Georg|
Technical University of Berlin, Germany