Supervisor: Hugh Wilson MA (Oxon) DipCompSci (Cantab) PhD
Peter Drucker famously observed fifty years ago that ?Because it is its purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two, and only these two, basic functions: marketing and innovation.? If he was right, this topic is an important one, as it concerns both marketing and innovation. But while the innovation in products and services that Drucker was referring to continues apace, today?s competitive strategy is equally based on innovation in the route to market. Tesco.com, Direct Line, First Direct and easyJet are just a few examples of innovative channel strategies as a key component of the value proposition.
But we have not seen the wholesale switch to remote channels which many predicted just a few years ago. Instead, we find ourselves in a multi-channel world. The business-to-business sales force is still struggling to work out its relationship with the call centre, the web and distributors. And although Amazon?s Internet-only model flourishes for some product-market segments, many others like Dell have found that a remote model of mail order, the telephone and the Internet still has to be supplemented by a sales force to build relationships with major accounts.
Practitioners are struggling to adapt to this world, hence the many leading companies who have joined Cranfield?s Customer Management Forum (www.cranfield.ac.uk/som/research/centres/ccmf/index.asp), which gives us a continual insight into practical problems and provides ready research access. The potential topics for research are many, with those where answers are most demanded by practitioners including:
1. The customer experience across multiple channels
How do customers ? B2C and B2B ? feel about multi-channel relationships with their suppliers? What matters to them ? consistency between channels? Choice of what channel to use for what purpose? Being guided by the hand as they traverse between channels? What happens if the experience falls short? We?ve begun survey research on this highly topical issue but there?s much that?s yet to be explored.
2. Delivering the multi-channel customer experience
Is a consistent organisational climate across multiple channels required to deliver a consistent experience? How about the role of CRM software in tailoring the experience across multiple touchpoints? What other factors influence the seamless integration of the customer relationship across multiple channels?
3. Multi-channel metrics
How can companies measure the effectiveness of their marketing through multiple channels? In particular, how can they track the channel-hopping customer? How can these metrics be used to optimise the multi-channel strategy?
4. The impact of advocacy on brand loyalty
It is often claimed that the Internet has reduced the costs of peer-to-peer communication, and that as a result advocacy is increasingly important and brand loyalty is decreasing. Is this really happening? And if so, how can brand loyalty be maintained in a multi-channel world ? does multi-channel CRM help?
These doctoral research areas could be researched using qualitative or quantitative techniques.
About Prof Hugh Wilson
Hugh is acknowledged as an authority on marketing channels, CRM, Internet marketing and marketing strategy, and has published widely for both practitioners and academics. He is included in the Chartered Institute of Marketing?s ?Guru Gallery? of the ?50 most influential marketers alive in the world today?. He was recently honoured by the DTI?s Patricia Hewitt as one of ?Internet Decade? list of the 100 individuals who had most influenced the development of e-commerce over the last decade ? the only business school academic to be so recognised. For further details see www.cranfield.ac.uk/som/faculty.
Candidates should ideally have at least three years? experience in marketing, sales, IT or a related discipline however, candidates from other disciplines may be considered. Please refer to the website for details of admission requirements. Candidates with interests in this area are invited to make contact with Prof Hugh Wilson for an informal discussion (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01234 751122).