|Dr Mary Ritz is the Owner and Founder of Almenta International. She holds a PhD in Business focussing on Customer Centricity, an MBA with a concentration in International Business and an undergraduate degree in Marketing.
Customer Management: Creating a sense making framework for developing economies
The overriding goal of the study was to determine if the customer management phenomenon should be treated and managed differently in different economic environments to improve its probability of success. This was based on the viewpoint that most of the literature on customer centricity seemed to be based on the developed world’s ways of thinking and doing, and the assumptions given were that these (often) western originated frameworks, would work in any socio-economic environment. However, if, as part of the study, the above was proven not to be true, the researcher indicated her need to develop such a framework for developing socio-economic contexts. The proposed framework consists of attributes that were considered best and most relevant for the developing world. Therefore, the main objective of the study was to address the phenomenon from a socio-economic perspective in the hope of offering new knowledge that can possibly assist people in the workplace to solve some of the challenges experienced in the customer management domain. The researcher’s underlying epistemological perspective is influenced by systems thinking. The relationship to the Cynefin Framework (Snowden and Kurtz, 2006), which makes reference to different market domains, was also referenced and adopted for the study. The researcher identified the customer centricity phenomenon as relevant to the Complex and Chaotic domains where context is unordered , which means there is no direct or obvious relationships between cause and effect, and problem-solving in these domains is accomplished by determining emerging patterns. Lastly, because the study was based on a particular socio-economic context, the researcher found it appropriate to base some of the thinking on Lessem’s (2001) principles of the “Four Worlds”. In addition, a literature review was carried out that confirmed the complexity of the matter under review by looking at some constructs of customer management (customer service, customer experience and customer relationship management). It was established how these components were complex in their own right. From the same literature review, certain aspects of the customer management phenomenon were identified, e.g. business performance and culture. A Grounded Theory methodology was followed utilizing a variety of data sources. The proposed customer-centric framework is based on the findings derived from a developing context, which in turn has been compared to a framework that was derived from the 5 customer management frameworks utilized for purposes of this research.
Academic supervisor: Prof B Anderson
Dr Vulumuzi Bhebhe is the Executive Chairman of UI Group, a consultancy firm specialising in corporate advisory. He holds a PhD in the Management of Technology and Innovation, an MBA with a concentration in Marketing Research as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and Management.
Total early stage development of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs): Creating a sustainability framework for emerging economies
The study investigated the total early stage development of SMMEs in emerging markets, and the tributary objective of this thesis is to create a sustainability framework. The study’s pinnacle focus was on five constructs (Internal Market Capacity; Relationship Marketing Capacity; Innovative Capacity; Customer Satisfaction and Business Performance) that affected sustainability and performance of start-ups and SMMEs in emerging markets. These business performance constructs are comprised of one predictor variable (Internal Marketing), three mediator variables (Relationship Marketing, Customer Satisfaction and Innovative Capacity) and one outcome variable (Business Performance). The research results reveal that all the business constructs (Internal Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Innovative Capacity and Customer Satisfaction) are antecedents of business performance. However, it was also observed that paramount and central to these constructs for business performance is Customer Satisfaction. The analysis revealed that Internal Marketing positively influences the mediators and outcome variable in a significant way. Academic discernments drawn and pragmatic implications provided are based on the thesis’ findings.
Academic supervisor: Prof R Chinomona;
Field supervisor: Dr M Ncube