Effective Tools for Customer Knowledge Management

Effective Tools for Customer Knowledge Management

Kamla Ali Al-Busaidi (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-089-7.ch007

Abstract

Customer knowledge management (CKM) is becoming vital for organizations’ operative and innovative performance. Currently, organizations are transforming their business strategies from mass production to mass customization and customer focused strategies to respond to business pressures and achieve a competitive advantage. Customer knowledge enables organizations to develop effective business strategies and achieve a competitive advantage. The capability of organizational knowledge management is assessed by incorporating tools that support knowledge management. Based on the experience of customer service managers’ perspective in successful CKM organizations, this chapter discusses effective tools for customer knowledge management that add value to organizations. Specifically, the chapter examines the most effective IT tools and non-IT tools (organizational mechanisms) that support the acquisition, storage, transfer, and application of customer knowledge. The chapter also examines the impacts of CKM tools on organizations.
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Introduction

Customer knowledge management (CKM) is becoming vital for organizations’ operative and innovative performance. As organizations are transforming their business strategies from mass production to mass customization and customer focused strategies, customer knowledge is considered a vital asset that enables organizations to respond to business pressures and achieve a competitive advantage. Customer knowledge enables organizations to develop effective business strategies and achieve competitive advantage. According to some surveys, customer knowledge is the most important asset when pursuing a competitive advantage (Bennet & Gabriel, 1999), and the most preferred type of knowledge management activity (Chase, 1997). The capability of organizational knowledge management is assessed through incorporating tools, including information technologies (IT) that support knowledge management (Alavi & Liedner, 2001; Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Gold et al., 2001).

Customer knowledge is classified into three main categories: (1) knowledge for customers, (2) knowledge about customers and (3) knowledge from customers (Gebert et al.; 2003). Knowledge from customers is considered valuable for organizations and is categorized as company-related information (marketing, sales and support information, and products and services information) and competitors-related information (marketing, sales and support information, and products and services information) (Zanjani et al., 2008). However, acquiring knowledge from external sources, such as customers, may be more challenging than from internal sources such as employees. Consequently, implementing tools for customer knowledge management may not be easy. The literature indicates that organizations find the implementation of IT tools and mechanisms such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems difficult, and most organizations fail to implement them properly (Boddy et al., 2005; Wu, 2010).

Consequently, the objective of this chapter is to discuss the effective CKM tools for customer knowledge management that add value to organizations, based on practitioners’ perspectives. Knowledge management tools can be used to support each of the KM processes (Alavi & Liedner, 2001; Becerra-Fernandez et al., 2004; Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Gold et al., 2001). Thus, the study specifically examines the most effective IT tools and organizational mechanisms that support the acquisition, storage, transfer and application of customer knowledge. The study also examines the impact of customer knowledge management tools on employees, business processes, products, customers and organizations.

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