The case of British Telcom will be used in order to prove the evidence of provided research and theory.
Beginning in the late 1980s, there has been a great deal of research on what exactly customer relationship management means and on what exactly a firm should be doing to implement such an orientation. Information technology offered firms a way to obtain, process, and use individual customer information so that firms would be able to personalize customer experiences. Some scholars have called it "market orientation." (Armstrong, Cowan, Vickers, 2005:195 )One set of researchers suggested that customer orientation is a subset of market orientation. Their definition for market orientation is "the set of cross-functional processes and activities directed at creating and satisfying customers through continuous needs-assessment." ( John, 2003: 11). Following their lead, market orientation has been treated as being composed of three components: customer orientation, competitor orientation, and interfunctional coordination.
Can the terms customer orientation and market orientation be used interchangeably If we accept the definition of a "market" (Ennew, Binks, 2003:220) as being a set of potential customers and treat the terms market and customer as synonymous except for the level of aggregation in numbers, then we can use the terms interchangeably. Such an argument does not necessarily negate the three-component structure of the concept of customer focus. To be truly customer focused, the firm has to be driven by the goal of providing the customer with the high-est level of satisfaction. This implies that the firm concentrates on how the customer is better served (by the firm) compared to the competitive offerings and that all processes and activities in the entire firm are integrated and coordinated to accomplish this goal. The customer-focused firm has all aspects of the firm directed at providing the superior product to the customer.
Thus, we can define customer relationship management as: a form of culture in a firm that directs all processes and activities of the firm toward providing superior value to the customer so as to sustain long-term profits (Gummesson, 2002:40).
It is now generally accepted that market orientation or a customer focus is a type of culture and is exhibited by a firm that is committed to providing superior customer value. When compared with different types of business cultures, the customer-focused culture has been found to be superior in delivering the best business performance. Such a customer focus was strongly correlated with the use of customer information in a study involving about 5,000 salespeople and sales managers. This study also found a strong correlation between market orientation, job satisfaction, and trust in management. (Pelham, 2000:50) Another study of 278 salespeople and sales managers found that market orientation significantly influenced job attitudes and the customer orientation of the salespeople. A firm was seen as clearly supporting the salespeople when the salespeople perceived that the firm was being attentive to customer needs and satisfaction, aware of competitor strategies to deliver superior value, and coordinated