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State of CRM in China

The Chinese telecommunications industry is increasing its customer focus. In the past few months facilities as greater transparency in billing such as list of phone call payments for all local calls are being provided to customers which had been restricted to long distance calls earlier. (Customer Focus, 2006). This will meet one of the complaints from customers and will contribute to enhancement of general satisfactory index which has shown a growth of . 7 percent over the past one year to reach 77 points.

The Chinese telecommunication companies are increasingly aware of the need to provide a high level of customer relationship services and are establishing specialized centers to cater for their needs, Thus recently it was seen that PacificNet was selected by China Telecom’s Hunan branch to provide a customer service centre to be denoted as the, “10000 Information Hotline”. The call center is providing telemarketing as well as full fledged customer service.

The engagement of professionals for such services for designing effective telemarketing scrip and also to play customer service role playing session is indicative of the serious concern towards CRM of Chinese telecommunication Companies. (pacificnet, 2006). China’s telecommunication industry is reportedly ahead of other sectors in the country in application of CRM. China Mobile had introduced CRM as early as 2000 by establishing a call center for dealing with customer’s complaints and other issues.

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A Business Operations Support System (BOSS) and Decision Support System (Data Warehouse and Data Mining) were also established by it. China Telecom is also reported to have established a number of call centers last year. China Unicom, China Netcom and Ji Tong Communications have also started the construction of call centers. However the approach to CRM appears to be mainly related to establishment of Call centers which is not the focus of the programme.

CRM is a strategy which optimizes the business processes to identify the customer’s needs and fulfill these. The strategy has to contribute to the process and thus deliver satisfactory services to the customer. This trend is also confirmed by Lee (nd), who has indicated that CRM in China is still in its nascency. CRM has not received its due share as it is considered as a technology input rather than a management or strategic intervention. The level of competition is not very strong for the Chinese to feel the need for an effective CRM programme.

Acquisition of new customers is a greater priority than retention and as a result there is limited change in the approach of service providers in China with limited attention to enhancing customer loyalty and satisfaction. However Lee sees Haier, a leading home electrical appliances manufacturer in China basing its growth on a high class customer service, but it too has problems due to lack of a customer centric vision and strategy. The problems of CRM in China also include the quality of data which is very low as also due to low penetration of credit cards, effective capture of data is also difficult.

(Lee, 2005). Data obsolescence is said to be very high almost every 12 months. The second issue is that of high degree of segmentation of the market, both economically as well as culturally and linguistically, thereby creating differentials in the maturity of customers, the infra structure and so on which is difficult for the CRM managers to adapt to. Variations in brand management and other attributes between the MNCs and local companies are also resulting in varied complexities of providing the customer a high quality of experience.

Similarly the local vendors of CRM software providers have very low expertise and profile to be able to compete with foreign brands as Oracle and SAP. It is also perceived by the companies in China that CRM is only software and a call centre and Chinese enterprises are likely to take much longer to learn the benefits of CRM more intimately. Establishing CRM Standards for Customers A number of studies on establishing standards for customers have been carried out.

The metrics that could be arrived at to distinguish the level of customer satisfaction by a telecommunication company based on the above analysis indicates that in the highly competitive telecom sector, earning or losing a customer is a powerful measure of successful CRM implementation. Suggested parameters which are simple to apply yet objective are as given below. The results need to be reviewed on a periodic basis recommended quarterly by each company to assess the success of CRM :- Number of New Customers. Number of Customers lost. Number of Customers upgraded their service plans.

Number of Customers complaints received. Number of Customers complaints addressed. Percentage of reduction/growth of complaints which could not be resolved. Overall growth/reduction of customer base. Overall growth in revenues. Establishing CRM Standards for Employees CRM is essentially executed through the employees of a company. Thus there is a need to establish measures for successfully execution of CRM by the employees. Siemens has executed CRM in China and has denoted standards which could be applied to assess the implementation and focus of employees based on a gradation as given at Figure 3 below.

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