Enterprise system is “Enterprise Software running on an Enterprise Platform” (http://www.officevision.com/pub/p5ee/definitions.html), which demonstrates certain attributes such as scalability; mobility and security. There are different types of enterprise systems designed to support different areas in an organisation. As customers today demand a different relationship with suppliers, a different marketing approach that focuses on customer’s requirements and changing preference is crucial.
Many companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Acer America Corp., Lucent Technologies, etc. are moving away from “traditional” CRM, which focuses on transaction-oriented views of customers, to internet-based CRM that goes beyond transactional data to manage customers’ satisfaction and loyalty by fulfilling business performance commitment and improving customer interactions through the internet by meeting business performance promises and to improve the quality of customer interactions over the internet (Davydov, 2004).
e-CRM helps deliver customer centric relationships that allows companies to understand the past, present and predict future requirements of customers through a centralized database that all employees in the company have access to (Xu et al. 2002). Basically e-CRM has several characteristics as listed below. Sales force and Marketing Automation With e-CRM, current customer, deal, product and competitor information are stored in a central database for sales person retrieval. A customer’s sales process is configured
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This provides a holistic view of each customer, which incorporates contact information, sales history, preferences and complaints, which is available to everyone who has access to the system. Customer data can even be segregated into regions, branches, types of customers or types of products to be used for marketing campaigns (Xu et al. 2002) that are tailored to customer’s needs. Companies can even capture a market before its competitors by understanding analysing it customer data. Sales force, when empowered with customer knowledge, can provide value-added services to the customers. Consequently, increases customer satisfaction and may lead to higher sales for the company.
Better Customer Service and Support e-CRM enables exemplary customer service to be incorporated in a company’s core system. It also decreases customer migration rate through an increased customer involvement by constantly tracking, monitoring and measuring customer service responses (Davydov, 2004). With e-CRM, companies can even assign customer queries to the appropriate channels to reduce unnecessary transferring of calls or call waiting, which frustrates customers. Hence, customers’ enquiries can be attended to immediately with proactive customer support system (Xu et al. 2002). Efficiently attending to customers increase customer satisfaction that may lead to better customer loyalty and retention rate.
Through the use of e-CRM, remote staffs can quickly and effectively respond to customers’ requirements by communicating with the customer service department via the company’s central database (Xu et al. 2002). Customers requests are recorded, assigned, monitored and tracked to ensure maximum customer service quality. Available personnel with specific expertise are instantly assigned to each problem, taking into considerations skill sets, workload, geographical location, availability, parts and tools, etc. The knowledge required and detailed instructions for problem solving are taken care of during the first service call. e-CRM also helps a company reduce the service inventory cost by automating execution, replenishment and cycle-counting functions (Xu et al. 2002).
SCM is viewed as a consolidation of manufacturers, suppliers or vendors, transporters or distributors, warehouses, retail outlets and the customers (Folinas et al. 2004). Traditional SCM uses traditional media and channels to link business partners in linear, inefficient relationships. The growth of e-commerce over the internet has facilitated new relationships for connecting new supply chain partners, thus significantly increasing quality and quantity of inter-organisational information flows (Warkentin et al. 2000). A proper implementation of e-SCM enhances customer service by reducing technological structures that exist in a traditional organisation setup, whereby departments operate as independent islands (Madu, CN & Madu AA,2003).
e-SCM involves different functions and phases that are interdependent on the activities of the others. It is used to improve a company’s value chain in terms of producing and distributing products in the right quantity and quality, at the right place and time to maximize consumer satisfaction (Folinas et al. 2004).