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Advancing the Concepts & Practices of Information Resources Management in Modern Organizations

Relationships Between Consistency of CRM and User Preferences in E-Commerce

Relationships Between Consistency of CRM and User Preferences in E-Commerce
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Author(s): A. Ant Ozok (University of Maryland Baltimore County, USA), Kristen Oldenburger (Booz Allen Hamilton, USA) and Gavriel Salvendy (Purdue University, USA)
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 3
Source title: Managing Modern Organizations Through Information Technology
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-822-2.ch087
ISBN13: 9781616921293
EISBN13: 9781466665354


The recent advent of e-commerce can be seen as an acceleration factor in the growth of CRM. Until the inception of the Internet and ecommerce, business-to-consumer shopping processes mostly involved going to a store and interacting with a salesperson to execute a shopping transaction, or doing mail ordering. With e-commerce becoming extremely popular starting from the late nineties, the U. S. online retail sales exceeded the $40 billion mark in 2002 (Jupiter Communications). The customer relationship concept has significantly evolved from the perspective of online vendors, where almost all of customer communication before, during and after the purchase happens on the vendor Web page. In most cases communication occurs without the involvement of live sales- or service people. Although customer treatment in ecommerce occurs almost entirely through the company Web page, similar attributes as in face-to-face CRM apply online as well. Just as their offline counterparts, consumers expect a high level of responsiveness to their questions, good prices, easy contact options and ease of receiving information from their online vendors (Bradshaw and Brash, 2001). This study is concerned with one particular aspect of CRM, that of consistency, and its effects on the customers in B2C e-commerce. Consistency of CRM is mainly concerned with whether customers are treated in the same manner before, during and after their purchase. This paper explores whether customers expect consistency in those activities. It should be noted that all of the items presented in this paper are explored from their consistency perspective. The primary motivation behind choosing this particular aspect is twofold: First, while the concept of CRM has been thoroughly explored as a business decision and from the business and management perspectives, the literature search indicated that little attention has been paid to improve CRM based on the user’s perspective and user needs. Second, specifically, previous literature has given little to no emphasis on whether treating customers consistently among each other, as well as treating them consistently within the span of the shopping procedure (pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase) are items of importance for electronic shoppers and whether they affect user satisfaction. Policies and product-related items are not the only items that affect CRM. The usability environment provided to customers where they do electronic shopping is also part of how customers are treated, meaning it is also part of CRM (Resnick, 2001). Therefore, for example, providing customers with very poor Web page design and navigational options are believed to negatively affect customer treatment and CRM. Consistency of customer treatment is a term including the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase activities, such as consistency in providing price quotes, product availability, and product variety as part of the pre-purchase process; consistency in shopping and navigation steps, security, and ease of use as part of the purchasing process; and consistency in providing customer service, help desk, and return policies as part of post-purchase process. These elements of consistency are based on previous literature, as discussed in the next section, as well as a pre-experiment survey conducted on area experts, as explained in Section 3. The researchers chose a sample of e-commerce experts from academia as the participant group because of potential unfamiliarity with CRM issues in e-commerce by the common public. Implementing the survey to a group of experts allowed the researchers to empirically determine the main consistency factors in CRM because this particular participant group is both highly familiar with CRM issues and, at the same time, a representative sample of e-commerce customers.

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