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The task of maintaining the levels of brand loyalty in customers and ensuring their engagement with brand products is one of the most challenging due to the multiple factors involved in shaping buyers’ attitudes toward a company and its product. As most organizations have shifted their activities to the realm of the digital space, the process of keeping customer relationship management (CRM) has become the focus of numerous studies (Rad, Ghorabi, Rafiee, & Rad, 2015).
At present, balancing the strategies for customer care with the enhancement of customer equity has become one of the primary aspects of research in the designated area (Ayodele, Babajide, & Oluwatofunmi, 2015). For a company to obtain a competitive advantage in the digital market, the focus should be shifted to combining customer equity strategies viewing buyers as a lifetime value with website support and application-based channels for communication.
The notion of CRM as the vehicle for increasing customer brand loyalty and establishing a well-built strategy for customer acquisition is comparatively new. However, impressive progress has been observed in exploring the identified aspect of managing communication with buyers and improving the rapport between companies and their target audiences. The concept of CRM is traditionally defined as a range of strategies aimed at improving customer retention and acquisition by analyzing their buying choices (Tangaza, Abadullahi, & Bala, 2015). Therefore, it incorporates the notions of customer acquisition, customer retention, and customer loyalty.
Research shows that, in order to succeed in the digital setting and establish a strong rapport with target audiences, an organization will need to consider integrating the principles of managing Big Data into its customer acquisition models (Ansari & Riasi, 2016). Specifically, firms need to consider incorporating the notion of data mining as the most prospective framework for gaining customer loyalty in the designated area (Oyeniyi, Adeyemo, Oyeniyi, & Adeyemo, 2015).
According to Kachwala and Sharma (2017), “Data mining can help in customer retention as it enables the timely identification of valuable customers with increased likelihood to leave, allowing time for targeted retention campaigns” (p. 78). Therefore, the focus on the active use of the available data should remain the core of a firm’s strategy in improving its CRM, whereas corporate ethics and good PR should be the foundation for building the desired brand image.
Understanding buyers’ behavior is another essential stage on the way to increasing the company’s profits and expanding its customer base. Therefore, the integration of sociocultural analysis into the development of product promotion strategies and the creation of a brand that will appeal to the selected demographic is critical. It is worth noting that the choices made by buyers in the digital environment are shaped to a large extent by the social media.
According to a recent study, the development of digital culture in buyers has shaped their behaviors extensively (Çınar & Ozorhon, 2018). Due to the ubiquitous nature of online reviews and WOM compared to its offline alternatives, companies have to increase their responsibility and product quality along with the reciprocity in the communication process (Srinivasan, Bajaj, & Bhanot, 2016). Therefore, creating the tools that allow maintaining at least a semblance of continuity in the company-customer dialogue is essential.
The introduction of applications and tools for communication and feedback are critical to the effective functioning of a company. A range of firms functioning in the digital setting tend to be quite wary of negative reviews, which is understandable given the effects of bad publicity. However, studies show that, even with negative reviews present, it is the responsiveness of an organization that contributes to building the levels of buyers’ loyalty toward the brand and, thus, increasing the competitive advantage of an organization. Therefore, incorporating the technology that will allow for a more active and effective customer acquisition process is needed.
The current study is aimed at exploring changes in the levels of customer acquisition, people’s perception of products in the digital market setting, as well as analyzing the effects of using applications as the means of maintaining communication consistent with key stakeholders, including buyers and SCM participants. Therefore, the choice of the qualitative research method is justified by the nature of the research.
A case study was used as the research design, with the sample being represented by 20 customers and employees of a local online store. Personal interviews were used as the main method of gathering data, whereas content analysis was utilized to process key information and locate main themes in the changes of stakeholders’ attitudes toward an organization.
The outcomes of the research performed above prove that there are several key trends in changes in customer behavior within the context of the digital market, the increase in the significance of connection between a company and its buyers being the key one. Thus, the outcomes of the study posit that the development of communication channels based on the use of mobile applications is critical. Moreover, the results of the research have shown that the described trends vary depending on the age of the target demographic.
While the propensity toward the use of applications is moderate to high in Millennials, the representatives of iGen are heavily geared toward the use of tools for online purchase and communication (Ordun, 2015). The use of applications and digital services used to help buyers to keep in touch with a company and its brand have shown to lead to greater brand recognition levels in target audiences.
Finally, one should note that the influence of the WOM and online reviews seems to have been consistently important for most companies that are entering the global market. Although buyers have learned to view some of the commentaries and feedback concerning a particular product or a company skeptically, the general tendency to rely on the rating that an organization or its brand receives online is still present.
Therefore, for a firm to keep the levels of customer acquisition and loyalty among them consistently high, the application of digital tools for providing timely responses to consumers is essential (Iordache, 2018). Moreover, the integration of the described tools has proven to produce a positive effect on an organization’s production processes by reducing the number of errors made in the process and misunderstandings occurring in the context of SCM processes.
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Based on the outcomes of the analysis, it would be sensible to conclude that the current focus of an organization willing to gain a competitive advantage should be shifted toward establishing a strong connection with buyers on the level of social media. The described approach is expected to create the rapport that will increase the extent of customers’ loyalty, simultaneously exploring new market trends and changes in buyers’ demands. The expected changes in the quality of the product and a more effective management of the tasks associated with a firm’s supply chain will entail a positive shift in the customer acquisition and retention.
The necessity to incorporate a diverse approach toward catering to people’s needs, simultaneously remaining loyal to the brand was one of the key themes appearing during interviews. The described challenge has grown admittedly more complicated to address as organizations entered the domain of the global economy, where they have to meet the demands of numerous groups. Customer diversification and the creation of a homogenous yet pliable brand image was regarded as one of the solutions, with the active use of digital communication tools for maintaining brand loyalty in buyers.
Therefore, the issue of consistent communication between an organization and its customers with the help of mobile applications and social media has proven to produce a phenomenally good effect on the overall management of business and the results delivered by a company when operating in the global market. Although the described tools should not be seen as the only solution to the competition-related issues, the significance of communication is not to be underrated by organizations. As alterations in people’s attitudes toward the brand identity show, the adoption of innovative communication tools allows for a more effective consumer segmentation and a better understanding of buyers’ culture-specific needs, as well as a better management of SCM tasks.
Due to the necessity to view customers as a company’s lifetime value and combine a customer-equity-based policy with the integration of multiple customer communication channels, an organization will require substantial investments in R&D to build competitive advantage. For this reason, the transition to a different model of managing customers’ needs, which requires incorporating the approaches based on social care, specifically, the use of social media, and customer equity principles to build a strong corporate ethics for CRM. As a result, a firm will receive a large boost for the further growth of its competitive advantage in the environment of the digital market, which is characterized by its high levels of rivalry between organizations.
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