Articles / Recommended Reading / Relationship

Creating a Superior Customer-Relating Capability

Creating a Superior Customer-Relating Capability
George S. Day

MIT Sloan Management Review
Magazine: Spring 2003
Research Feature April 15, 2003

In most markets, there are one or two companies that outperform their rivals by staying more closely connected to their customers — Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds, Fidelity Investments, Lexus and Intuit are prominent examples. Their advantage, however, does not have much to do with CRM tools and technologies. In fact, information technology is merely a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for achieving this advantage. On its own, as mounting evidence indicates, IT contributes little to creating better relationships with customers.1 Rather, superior customer-relating capability is a function of how a business builds and manages its organization.

In particular, it results from a clear focus on, and deft orchestration of, three organizational components:

The first is an organizational orientation that makes customer retention a priority and gives employees, as part of an overall willingness to treat customers differently, wide latitude to satisfy them.

The second component is a configuration that includes the structure of the organization, its processes for personalizing product or service offerings, and its incentives for building relationships.

Information is the final component: information about customers that is in-depth, relevant and available through IT systems in all parts of the company.

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