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How do B2B companies approach CRM and the management of customer data in today’s era of social media and GDPR?

A Multiple Case Study

Written by I. Degerman, J. Eckerbom & A. Hong Gu

Paper category

Bachelor Thesis


Business Administration>Marketing & Sales




Thesis: Relationship marketing and maintenance relationship marketing in B2B can be described as "marketing for establishing strong and lasting relationships with personal accounts" (Morgan & Hunt, 1994, p. 21). In order to improve relationships with commercial customers, B2B companies continue to use relationship marketing efforts (Zhang et al., 2016). Relationship marketing involves developing and maintaining business relationships with customers or suppliers in order to convey information and achieve goals in business activities (Harker, 1999; Sarmento, Simões, and Farhangmehr, 2015). This is also consistent with what Gummesson (2004) described, that relationship marketing "is marketing based on interaction within a relationship network" (Gummesson, 2004, p, 136). Bauer, Grether and Leach (2002) have discussed that in relationship marketing, "trust" and "commitment" are the two basic factors (Bauer, Grether & Leach, 2002). Both "trust" and "commitment" help strengthen customer relationships and encourage customer cooperation (2002). 2.1.1 The key component of establishing and developing customer relationships-TrustTrust is defined as "willing to rely on an exchange partner with confidence" (Morgan & Hunt, 1994, p. 23). According to Lages, Lancastre and Lages (2008), since business relationships are relationships between different individuals from different companies, trust has developed into an important cornerstone of relationships between organizations (Lages, Lancastre & Lages, 2008). For the purpose of long-term relationships between organizations, trust is considered to be one of the key elements in establishing, developing and maintaining relationships (Lages, Lancastre & Lages, 2008). It also clearly shows that trust has made great efforts for the company to succeed in relationship performance management, because trust can be regarded as the basic and most important factor in the development of strategic relationships (Lages, Lancastre & Lages, 2008). This is consistent with what Morgan and Hunt (1994) said, that business partners are more willing to develop their business in this long-term stable business relationship (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). A trustworthy relationship will bring positive results to relationship marketing, because partners who are willing to build, develop, and maintain a stronger business with each other make this commitment based on the deep trust between the parties (1994). Doney, Barry, and Abratt (2007) believe that trust can be regarded as one of the key principles of customer retention (Doney, Barry, and Abratt, 2007). Especially in the B2B industry, trust is one of the main issues in the complex buyer-seller relationship (2007). 2.4 Social media and social CRM 2.4.1 Social media and its relevance to B2B Social media can be defined as "a series of hardware and software technological innovations [...] that promote the creation, interaction and interoperability of cheap content for creative online users "(Wang and Kim, 2017, p. 15). Due to social media, the power difference between buyers and suppliers has become more balanced, because customers are more aware of suppliers’ offers, and due to the increase in buyers, customers expect more suppliers, and may even be against customers Favorable-supplier interaction (Agnihotriet al., 2016). The strategic use of social media has been promoted, claiming that it can increase business exposure, attract new interest, and generate more insights into the market (2016). However, most research on social media as a business strategy has been focused on the business-to-consumer (B2C) environment, which may not be surprising given the degree of individualism of social media (Siamagka et al., 2015 ; Flanigan and Obermier, 2016). Compared with research related to the B2C background, the research on social media and its applications in these industries from the perspective of business-to-business (B2B) companies is therefore not extensive, although many B2C companies claim to incorporate social media into their business strategies (Flanigan & Obermier, 2016). It is also believed that B2B companies that use social media can enjoy benefits such as “enhanced competitiveness, cost-effectiveness, customer engagement/relationship building potential, business exposure, and real-time feedback” (Siamagka et al., 2015, p. 94. Maybe this One reason for the hesitation in adopting and using social media for marketing and customer relationship management purposes is that the tool lacks relevance in the B2B environment compared to B2C (Flanigan & Obermier, 2016). This may be due to B2B companies May enjoy less word-of-mouth advertising than B2C companies because of their lower number of followers on social media and the costs involved in creating and maintaining their presence on social media (2016). It may also be that B2B companies choose not to Use social media as a marketing tool because of “reputation risks and legal issues, lack of employee knowledge/training, lack of support from senior management, and unwillingness to lose control of the brand” (Siamagka et al., 2015, p. 94). Read Less