Social media in customer relationship management: An analysis of Norwegian management consulting firms

Shamaila Marita Lein & Mette Ugstad

Student thesis: Master thesis


The purpose of the thesis is to conduct an analysis of how Norwegian management consultancy firms may apply social media in customer relationship management strategies. The problem is approached applying both the company perspective and the customer perspective. The literature review explores the topics of communication theories, social media and customer relationship management. The latter is introduced as an extension of relationship marketing, a field of marketing developed in the 1980s to address the marketing of services. Out of existing communication models, the uses and gratifications model is argued to be the one most appropriate in describing Internet communication. Social media is explained as technology enabling two- way communication between one or many individuals, allowing for sharing, collaboration and interaction. Further, a typology of social media is presented, including social network sites, social sharing sites, blogs, microblogs, wikis and social forums. The area of social media in marketing in general and CRM specifically is introduced, showing that no or very little research is conducted on the area. Lastly, a social media mindset is proposed for companies planning to implement social media in their organization. For the purpose of exploring the research topic, interviews are conducted with seven Norwegian management consultancy firms. Main findings include that today, the application of social media in CRM can be said to be in a planning- and wait- and- see phase. However, there seems to be consensus among the respondents that there is great potential in the application of social media in future CRM strategies. Potential for social media was identified across the CRM process, however, some disagreement among the respondents was found. LinkedIn and Facebook are identified as the social platforms considered having most potential in this industry, both examples of social networking sites. The customer perspective was incorporated by conducting an online survey. A response rate of 2.2 per cent and 65 respondents implies that the results from the quantitative research is used as support for the findings from the interviews, as the poor response rate makes it difficult to defend any generalizations or statistical conclusions. The main finding from the interviews was supported: customers seem to not be ready for application of social media in CRM today, but show positive attitudes to such application in the future. Facebook and LinkedIn were found to be most popular social media platforms, supporting that social networking sites perhaps are most applicable in the industry. Customers did not point to any trends in preferences toward some parts of the CRM process being more appropriate for the application of social media, also supporting the qualitative findings. Thus, it might make sense to think of CRM not as distinctive stage in terms of social media application, but rather as an overall approach to managing and maintain relationships. Company recommendations includes establishing presence on social media platforms today, to learn the rules of the playground that social media constitute, in order to be ready for the application of social media in CRM and other parts of operations when the time is right.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages219