Relationship marketing principles have seldom been applied to the small and medium sized enterprise (SME). This paper seeks to develop what is a striking link by investigating the role of Internet technologies in the customer relationship management of SMEs based in Northern Ireland.
This study took an exploratory outlook and a quantitative approach to data collection was adopted. A self-completion questionnaire was distributed by post to a sample of 300 SMEs in Northern Ireland. A response rate of 18.6 per cent was obtained.
The findings of this study illustrate that SMEs are implementing fundamental e-CRM practices and reaping the benefits from internationalisation. Challenges are few, but centre on a preference for face-to-face relationships and a lack of Government support.
Research limitations/implications -
It is hoped that this exploratory research has laid the foundation for further examination of e-CRM in the SME context. Future studies should be able to replicate the process in other countries and on a larger scale. The potential also exists for in-depth qualitative research.
Practical implications -
The authors conclude that e-CRM may have to move on to a more strategic and integrated level if SMEs in Northern Ireland are to compete, both locally and globally.
Originality/value - This exploratory research has shed some light on the marginalised subject of e-CRM in SMEs. For SMEs operating in a peripheral economy such as Northern Ireland the benefits to be gained from electronic customer relationship management are lucrative
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/patrick_ibbotson/2/