Customer relationship management in a pharmaceutical company
De Meyer, Christine Frances
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In order to develop a relationship with customers, a company must satisfy customers' needs. This study aimed to determine whether the pharmaceutical company's employees' are actually satisfying their customers' needs, and to determine how the relationship can be improved. The main objectives of the study were to determine how relationship management (RM) can aid the relationship between selected customers and the pharmaceutical company, determine how customer relationship management in the pharmaceutical company can satisfy customer needs, and conduct an empirical investigation on the usage of customer relationship management (CRM) in the pharmaceutical company. Relationship management is a tool that most companies can use to enhance their relationships with stakeholders. Relationship management enables companies to create value for customers, increase profits and return on equity. Customer relationship management concentrates on building relationships with the company's most important stakeholder - the customer. The study explains the reasons why companies should concentrate on customer relationship management rather than just relationship management. Customer relationship management has to be an integrated company effort and be implemented throughout the entire company in order to be successful. Customer relationship management enables companies to develop long-term relationships with customers that will lead to increased profits and business performance. Each employee in the company must be aware of the need and importance of CRM. When implementing CRM, all parties need to be involved to ensure acceptance of the CRM programme. The empirical investigation of the study concentrated on the customer relationship efforts of a pharmaceutical company based in Gauteng. Two sets of questionnaires were handed out to achieve this objective. One set was handed out to the customers (private, state and academic laboratories in the Gauteng province), while the other set was handed out to the employees of the pharmaceutical company that deal directly with the chosen customer group. The two sets of questionnaires were compared to determine the different views of the employees and customers of the pharmaceutical company and to determine which aspects the pharmaceutical company needs to be improved upon to enhance the relationship with customers. Once an analysis of the questionnaires was performed, the following summary of important conclusions and recommendations could be made: The customers of the pharmaceutical company are satisfied with the CRM efforts, but even a small percentage of customers that are dissatisfied can lead to the pharmaceutical company losing customers and decreasing its profitability. The relationship with customers can be improved by: - Improving the service efficiency provided to customers by improving the contact between customers and sales consultants, after-sales service, and delivery of products. This can all be achieved by improving internal, as well as external communication. - Twenty six point three percent (26.3%) of customer respondents indicated that the pharmaceutical company does not handle queries quickly. The Internet and company website could be used to increase problem solutions. - The availability of sales consultants was identified as a problem area. Fifleen point four percent (15.4%) of customer respondents indicated that the availability of sales consultants and frequency of contact was "poor". It was recommended that sales consultants visit customers more frequently. The recommendations will enable the pharmaceutical company to enhance and manage its relationships with its customers.