Online customer relationships in the European financial services sector: A cross-country investigation
Reportedly, over the past 30 years there has been a general sense of willingness, on behalf of suppliers and customers alike, to develop increasingly close ‘emotional’ relationships based on trust. While buyers reward suppliers with brand loyalty, suppliers in turn develop strategies continually to energise this ‘connective’ relationship. As customers and suppliers increasingly become physically connected to one another via computer networks an important emergent issue is whether the nature of their relationship is changing as a result of transactions taking place across these networks. This paper discusses part of an exploratory research project designed to question the extent to which computer-based technologies that previously enabled the building of emotionally connective relationships through the analysis of customer data are instead facilitating anonymous transactional relationships. The project focuses on organisations in three European countriescolon; France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The broad aims are to explore whether consumer segments are emerging, that actually prefer the minimal personal interaction afforded by sophisticated new computer technology, and to examine the extent to which financial service organisations are responding to the demands of such segments. The paper includes an outline of the contextual background, followed by the research methodology and a discussion of the findings. Conclusions are drawn about the implications of these findings for both industry practitioners and academic researchers.
KeywordsCustomer relationship management Internet European financial service sector banking customer relations e-business e-commerce financial brokers financial engineering financial institutions financial marketing financial models financial planning financial training insurance intermediation Knowledge management management marketing marketing strategy pensions services quality virtual organisations
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