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Pareto-principle application in non-IT supported CRM processes: A case study of a Dutch manufacturing SME

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Purpose ‐ This research covers a rather unexplored area of customer relationship management (CRM) by questioning the mechanism between on the one hand the Pareto-principle and on the other hand traditional non-IT supported operational CRM processes. Thus, the paper aims to explore whether a minority of processes and process-aspects deserves credit for achieving a majority of CRM goals. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A qualitative approach is the most appropriate due to the assumption that access to the reality of a situation is only possible through social construction. A qualitative approach seeks to answer questions posed by studying different social settings. As noted by Berg, qualitative techniques make it possible for researchers to participate in understanding and perceiving others, as well as permitting them to discover how people structure their daily lives to make them more meaningful. Findings ‐ The questioned mechanism of on the one hand traditional non-IT supported operational CRM process-aspects and on the other hand the Pareto-principle is confirmed by the majority of interviewees who answered affirmatively to small things making big differences in customer contact. Research limitations/implications ‐ Regarding the limitations of this study, the results are hard to generalise as the research context depends on a single case study. However, the high levels of detail that allows for greater insight into manufacturing SMEs in HGV-Trailer that want to adopt non-IT support operational CRM where there is lack of financial resources justify the choice of this case study. Practical implications ‐ This study is important for management to focus and develop social on top of technical competencies. This was clear from the importance of social intercourse as the glue that links all the non-IT supported operational processes from break down to invoices. It helps in removing the uncertainty from the view point of customers and highlights the importance of the care that companies need to give to the human side of the process more than objectifying things. Moreover, the finding provides an important implication for practitioners involved spare-parts purchasing process and the warranty claiming process should continuously assess whether they operate in support of a breakdown or not and subsequently use this insight to prioritize their tasks. Originality/value ‐ This research tried to answer how the Pareto-principle applies to traditional non-IT supported operational CRM process-aspects by concluding that the first social intercourse, as well as problem ownership, belongs ‐ from a customers' viewpoint ‐ to the "vital few" leading to "trivial many" results of rational and emotional nature. This is especially true in the breakdown process, and processes that operate in support of breakdowns.
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Keywords: Customer relations; Manufacturing SMEs; Non-IT supported operational CRM; Pareto-principle application; Qualitative research; Small-to-medium-sized enterprises

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 28, 2014

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