Social Customer Relationship Management in Rural Commerce: A Study of Small Businesses in Southern West Virginia
Graduate School of Business
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Steven V. Cates
Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Customer Engagement, Social Media, Agency Theory, Social Media Communication, Customer Loyalty
Business | Marketing
Anderson, Timothy John, "Social Customer Relationship Management in Rural Commerce: A Study of Small Businesses in Southern West Virginia" (2019). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 2117.
The limited-resource context in which small businesses operate impedes the ability of the proprietors of small businesses in implementing customer relationship management. Despite the availability of a more cost-effective alternative in the form of social customer relationship management, there is a failure to utilize the practice because of a lack of knowledge of the use of social media platforms for the purposes of customer relationship management. The purpose of this study was to explore the influence that the use of social customer relationship management has on the small businesses located in Southern West Virginia. The study used a qualitative research methodology and a case study design. A total of 20 participants were equally drawn from four county chambers of commerce in Southern West Virginia using the stratified sampling method. One-on-one, semi-structured interviews were conducted on the participants and data analyzed through thematic analysis. Contrary to the initial hypothesis, the findings showed that the proprietors of small businesses in Southern West Virginia are aware of the potential of social customer relationship management. The emergent themes included aiding in decision-making, enhancing customer engagement, increasing visibility of the business and cultivating customer loyalty. The findings showed limited use of formalized marketing plans to complement social customer relationship management. Limitations of the sample size were appreciated, and recommendations for future studies with a clustered sample including ethnic, minority, and women-owned businesses were made. In addition to recommendations for the use of a conversational tone, addressing feedback with positivity, and implementing social customer relationship management, it was also recommended for the proprietors of small businesses to use analytics in order to benefit from the data collected from their customers.