strategic marketing

Introduction

Customer relations imply the way a given organization relates with its current and future customers. For a business organization, customers are the most important stakeholders as they are actually the reason for the company’s existence. While there may be other important stakeholders like investors and employees, customers are responsible for the sustainability of the operations given and they determine organizational performance. This means that every business organization should be able to give its customers the attention they deserve. Most companies outside of the service industry limit their interaction with the customers to handling complaints or collecting feedbacks on the products, which were sold. This means that unless the customers have a problem, they would have no reason to contact the organization. This makes the one-way interaction considering that it can only be initiated by the customer. On the one hand, this is a good thing considering that traditionally customers are unable to interact with the organizations and organizations on their side communicate only through advertising. With the new media, things seem to have changed especially in organizations that are keen on market research and are able to meet consumer needs and expectations. Other than opening the organization to easy communication with the consumers, having a good customer relationship management strategy allows the company to communicate freely with all its relevant stakeholders thus improving its image and potential. This paper examines the Fujitsu Group with respect to its customer relationship management and its impact on its performance.

The Organization

Fujitsu Group is a multinational ICT company headquartered in Japan with branches all over the world. The company provides technology solutions, products and services with dealings in electronic appliances such as PC’s, laptops, printers, scanners, and wireless routers among other things. With a presence in lots of countries, the company’s biggest task is to offer support to its customers depending on what they need. Fujitsu Limited is ranked the fourth largest company in the world with respect to offering technology services, products and solutions.

Considering that the company offers both products and services, it can be thus concluded that Fujitsu is a service industry. Porter states that performance in organizations, such as Fujitsu Company is highly dependent on the quality of services and the types of relationship they have with their customers. Balmer and Greyser confirm that the ICT solution sector depends highly on customer to customer marketing through the recommendations, thus making the customers its greatest marketing channel. As such, Fujitsu Company is known for the ability to treat its clients with a lot of respect and consideration especially through the customer value policy that only sets it apart from most of the competitors.

Current Approaches to Customer Relationship Management

The Fujitsu Group over the years has set itself up as the ICT firm that gives its customers the significance that they deserve. The organization has employed a number of strategies for its customer relationship management with an aim of ensuring that there is a favourable connection between the internal and external stakeholders. Lamb, Hair & McDaniel reckon that, just like the investors can contact the management due to their concerns and recommendations, the customers can do the same even more directly without having to look for the management. Right from the bottom ranks of the organization’s human capital, the concept of customer relations has been embedded into the practices and corporate culture. It means that any information told by the customer is considered with utmost seriousness. As a result, the company has various channels through which the customers can contact the staff members in case they have something to say.

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According to Anton, customer relationship management of Fujitsu Company implies having a strategy for engaging the customers consistently to bring them closer to the company with respect to loyalty and sustainable business relationships. Cameron & Quinn in their analysis confirmed that such a situation implies having mechanisms that promote communication with the customers. As Darley, Blankson & Luethge established that the company includes active social media platforms, interactive websites and a fully functional customer care centre where questions and concerns get quickly responses. These, however, are not the most impressive approaches to customer relationship management in this organization.

Ball argues that being an international ICT company, it is only expected that Fujitsu Group would take an advantage of the Internet, as a means of connecting to clients all the time. The company’s social media platforms are constantly updated in terms of responding to the customers’ concerns and questions. The company actually has a social media policy in which every staff member is responsible for its social media platforms implying that there is always someone available to respond and engage the customers on the company’s pages.

The company also has a training program on communication for its employees in order to have an opportunity to build cultural competence. According to Evans, Jamal & Foxall, the fact that Fujitsu Group is a multinational organization implies that it serves clients from all over the world and each employee should be able to communicate effectively with all the clients. The company thus undertake cultural diversity management training to ensure that there is some level of cohesion beyond ethnicity. In addition, the company tries to promote communication as a key concept by encouraging healthy interpersonal relationships within the work place. This ensures that the employees unite and thus work together as a team, further improving their chances for establishing contacts with the customers who often become long-term customers as the company offers comprehensive ICT solutions for businesses and individuals. Business goes beyond the point of sale and thus the need to create and maintain a healthy working relationship translates on the balance sheet.

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Another way that the Fujitsu Group uses to ensure customer relationship management within their organization is by emphasizing on consistency. Kotabe & Helsen state that in most cases, one employee is put in charge of a client right from the beginning of cooperation and they continue to work together until the client is introduced to another employee in case there has been a transfer or promotion. This creates trustful relations between the customer and company employee, thus building the customer relations. Employee retention here is thus not just about avoiding the cost of hiring new personnel all the time but also about keeping the customers by connecting them with the employees that they are used to working with. Kotler & Keller insist that this, however, does not mean that customers contact only with one person within the organization, they are actually free to work with anyone. Every customer is noted to prefer consistency because it is hard to keep on explaining what he/she needs to the new contact person. The longevity of the business relations in this case makes consistency the better and provides relatively cheaper alternative.

Potential Benefits

The Internet is a great place to initiate and sustain a conversation on a specific subject, and employees of Fujitsu Company know this very well. Their use of the social media is in phenomenal in its concept. Hofstede, Hofstede & Minkov observe that the fact that the customers are consistently engaged in order to keep them in the organization makes them a part of the Fujitsu Company’s operations. The potential benefits here are limitless. First, the company is likely to develop in the right direction as it is able to get the opinions of its most important stakeholders without spending extra revenues on market research. The customers are credited for steering the company towards successful ventures as their concerns and comments divulge their needs and expectations, and by understanding of these needs and expectations, Fujitsu Company is able to stay ahead on the market by meeting them promptly. This is seen in the way the company grew from selling PC’s into offering technology solutions for its clients. Currently the company offers cloud services, networking, applications and other solutions as a response to what their PC customers wanted.

Another benefit of the consistent communication is that the customers are feeling more appreciated, thus developing loyalty as a part of the Fujitsu Company family. Knowing that their needs and expectations are valued and that their concerns will be quickly responded makes them feel safe in the roles of the clients of the organization. In this way, the Fujitsu Group is able to foster customer loyalty thus improving not only its organizational performance in terms of the consistent clientele but also attracting new clientele by customer to customer marketing, which can only be accomplished in the event of customer satisfaction.

Having all the employees active on the social media implies that the entire organization is always connected with the rest of the world. The potential benefit of this initiative is that it ensures that there is a wide spread understanding of the world in terms of the technology sector especially when it comes to what people want, need and hope to get. The social media also ensures the organization to keep an eye on its competitors and see what they are up to. This way, they are able to stay ahead and be the best in the industry by having all the necessary information to keep the customers interested. Knowing who the competitors are ensures that the Fujitsu Organization is able to stay ahead in the sense that it can also give its clients whatever the other organizations may be trying to use as competitive advantage.

Cultural competence as a way of ensuring that customer relations are managed successfully in the company also has many potential benefits. First, the kind of training involved improves the communication in the organization itself. As a result, the employees of Fujitsu Company are well adjusted and can communicate effectively with all the ethnic groups. Owing to the fact that the organization has employees from all parts of the world, the concept of diversity management improves organizational performance by ensuring that they respond well to one another despite their ethnic differences. The strategy thus not only benefits the customer relationship management but also the employee relations within the company.

Another benefit with respect to the organization’s cultural competence is the way in which the Fujitsu Company manages to treat its customers. Getting the employees to undergo training so that they are able to treat the customers regardless of their ethnicity and culture implies that the communication trends between Fujitsu Company and its clients are correct and in many ways commendable. According to Keller successful communication is the basis of any good relationship and the fact that Fujitsu Group ensures that its employees understand their customers implies that the company appreciates this fact. The clients thus feel welcomed and highly valued in the organization, further improving their chances of getting the exact services that they need and even coming back for more. Making customers comfortable is by far the greatest benefit of getting the understanding of the company’s communicative patterns through the cultural competence training.

Limitations

The Fujitsu Group has opened itself to its clients in many ways given the active interaction that it promote through both the social media and customer service platforms. This organization is closely connected with its customers to the point that they may become vulnerable to competition. On the one hand, the company is able to use its presence in the Internet to track its competitors, but on the other hand, there is also a possibility that it can be tracked by these very competitors. The challenge here is that at Fujitsu Company customers are engaged promptly and directly via the social media platforms, thus implying that their pages have a lot of relevant information pertaining to their activities in the company.

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Keller affirms that another limitation is the one which opens the company up to consistent distraction. Fujitsu Group, being a multinational organization, has quite a high number of loyal customers who would like to be in touch regularly. This puts the company to task seeing as they have many customers to respond to at the same time. As such, Fujitsu Group's open communication system puts it at a cross road where it is left to spend a lot of time communicating with the clients rather than concentrating on what is considered as more important in its line of work. Usually the most important is innovation.

Relevant Stakeholders and Their Potential Importance to the Organization

The Fujitsu Group is quite a large company with interests in offering technology solutions as well as products and services. This means that they have a wide range of stakeholders other than their employees, shareholders, customers and governments. This organization has to deal with the society within which it operates as well as the environmental activists since it sells computers and other electronic appliances like printers and scanners.

According to Harrell & Kiefer, the employees are relevant to this organization because they are the closest to the company’s customers. As such, they are the ones who determine the kind of image the company sells to the customers as well as to the rest of the society. Keeping the employees happy and qualified makes the organization look good both to the investors and to the public, thus boosting their chances of succeeding in the market. Good companies attract more customers than bad companies, and the employees are in the most convenient position to tilt the balance in either direction. This makes them by far the most important stakeholders as far as the company’s image is concerned. This is why at Fujitsu Group the employees are treated with utmost respect and consideration.

The shareholders at Fujitsu Company are considered equally important as they own the company. Their importance here lies in the fact that they can easily leave the company and cause lack in funding. The shareholders are thus needed for the operations to be sustained at a productive level. As such, the company tries to be in good terms with the shareholders by always ensuring them that they have the right on corporate image and that they make profits. According to Burnett & Hutton, shareholders are interested in both the kind of image the company has, and the amount of profits they are able to achieve. In most cases, they do not participate directly in running the organization and thus they are the influential spectators who keep an eye on Fujitsu Company from a safe distance.

Kapferer emphasises that customers are the company’s source of income and their reason for existance. At Fujitsu Group, the sole purpose for the company’s operations is the customer who often needs some kind of solution for his/her home or business. Godin affirms that the driving force behind every innovation are the customers, where the company needs to make profits by meeting their needs and expectations. The ability to keep these customers interested and impressed is basically what sets Fujitsu Company apart from its competitors, meaning that the customers are quite important to it.

Each country has regulations for business, and this is where the governments come in. They are responsible for regulating both the ICT sector and the business sector, making them more like the watchdogs in terms of quality and policies. Fujitsu Company also collaborates with governments where its branches are located, in order to roll out ICT projects in local jurisdictions thus making the government a potential partner for large scale projects within the organization. The government can thus enable or hinder the organization’s operations.

Environmental activists are concerned with everything that plays a role in contamination or conservation of the environment. This company sells computers, and thus it is responsible for how e-waste is disposed. Its relationship with the environmentalists is thus that of public relations in that if the environmentalists see that the company is doing something to conserve environment then they are on the safe side. The importance of these stakeholders lies in the fact that they can easily break the company’s reputation, thus they need to be kept close especially through the CSR department.

Ries & Trout insist that the society is also a very important stakeholder for any organization. In Fujitsu’s case, the society is where the company draws its clients as it offers solutions for everyday ICT challenges. A bad reputation in the society would scare clients, shareholders and business partners away. The company thus engages in CSR to build a good relationship with the society as whole.

Recommendations on Strategic Relationship Programs with the Stakeholders

Amongst other things, Hansen reckons that the most important strategy for a sustainable relationship with stakeholders is communication. It is important for the Fujitsu Organization always engage the various stakeholders in its communications through newsletters, advertisements and frequent discussions on both new and traditional media platforms. The company thus needs to actively engage in public relations, especially considering how extensive they have been concerning customer relations. The same approach needs to be used for the other stakeholders to ensure all round success in terms of corporate image and practices. Ordinarily, the communications have been targeting the customers in that they were product themed. Harrell & Kiefer argue that in companies with global presence, such as Fujitsu Group, this situation needs to be changed. Thus the governments, environmental interest groups and potential employees as well as the society as a whole can learn about Fujitsu Company and be able to see them in a new and positive light.

Conclusion

The Fujitsu Group has dedicated itself to ensuring that its employees are fully capable of handling customers from all over the world. This makes it very thorough in the context of cultural competence, thus ensuring that its communication skills are the best they can be. Taking into consideration the way with the help of which Fujitsu Company kept its customers happy and content, it can be stated that its customer relationship management is highly effective. The ultimate success can, however, only be achieved if the organization extends the same kind of strategy to its other stakeholders. Without disputing the central role of the customers to a business such as Fujitsu’s, it must also be considered that there are other stakeholders who would have a similarly drastic impact on the organization. They should take on negative impression of the company’s operations. A collision with the environmental organizations, the government or even the shareholders would just as easily scare the customers away. The concept of effective and open communication must thus be extended to the other stakeholders with as much zeal as it is with the customers, in order to ensure that every important stakeholder is on the company’s side.

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