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Table of Contents

Improvement in Customer Service in Healthcare - Part 3


2. Research Objectives

Based on the background information provided, the key contribution of CRM in the healthcare industry relates to the improved capability of the healthcare organization in attracting and retaining customers through the improvement of the customer satisfaction and customer loyalty levels. However, the history of CRM’s use in the healthcare industry and its overall effects on the quality of healthcare services and the resulting effect on the healthcare organization’s viability need to be understood at a greater depth, to understand the overall impact of CRM in the healthcare sector.

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There are several approaches to understanding the impact of CRM. SERVQUAL is one of the empirical tools that are widely accepted for measuring the level of improvement in the quality of services that service organizations provide. Service organizations include the healthcare sector therefore; using SERVQUAL is an acceptable approach for determining changes in the service quality.

SERVQUAL is based on the following factors: tangibles, reliability, responsiveness, assurance and empathy (Parasuraman, et al., 1998). In many cases, hospital information systems gather information from the viewpoint of healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, etc.) without consideration of the requirements of their patients. These hospital information applications include hospital automation, electronic databases, and patient information systems, among others. There is a marked increase in the usage of new information technologies for healthcare organizations in the recent years. The increase in IT usage is related to the improvement in the convenience and speed by which information is delivered to the healthcare professional. The faster the information is delivered, collated, and analyzed, the better the healthcare service provided. However, healthcare organizations control the technological restructuring despite having similar objectives of providing the highest level of customer service (Ribiere, et al., n.d.).

CRM systems mean different things to different users. CRM may involve using simple devices such as direct emails. CRM may also mean the use of more sophisticated technologies such as on-line analytical processing. CRM may also imply the use of larger physical and human infrastructures such as customer interaction centers. The range of possible CRM definitions is very wide. However, the important question for the healthcare organization is to identify which factors are important for its clients that are crucial in developing a CRM system. The first step for the healthcare organization is to identify the factors that are important for improving the level of customer satisfaction. The most viable approach is to use an analytical hierarchical process to do a technical assessment of the information that is most crucial for healthcare patients. There are multivariate measurement systems that analyse the variables that are directly linked to the level of customer satisfaction and loyalty from which the IT components of the CRM strategy will be based. The question that is presented in this context is which of those approaches have been most successful. A comparative analysis of the implemented CRM strategies versus the effectiveness rate should provide an overall picture of the true qualitative and quantitative effectiveness of CRM strategies in the healthcare sector.

The problem statement therefore can be framed using the following questions:

Research Question 1: What factors affect the quality of customer relationship management for healthcare organizations?

Research Question 2: How do healthcare organizations prioritize the critical factors that are identified in improving CRM strategies?

Research Question 3: What conceptual frameworks are most effective in developing and implementing CRM strategies in healthcare organizations?

The objectives of this research paper are:

  • To identify which variables are most important in developing CRM strategies for healthcare organizations;
  • To develop a priority listing of these critical factors for the purpose of improving CRM strategies in healthcare organizations; and
  • To create a conceptual framework that will improve CRM systems in healthcare organizations.

This research paper will cover information on CRM strategies employed by healthcare organizations throughout the world. Information will be collected from sources in the general public domain, including articles published in scholarly journals, books, magazines, articles in periodicals, excerpts from conferences, speeches and other publicly transmitted communications; websites and web page reports, patents, reviews, cases and other miscellaneous resources. These resources shall be recorded and cited. The findings and observations from these resources shall be summarized and presented in this report for further analysis. Recommendations shall be derived from the summarized results.

The significance of the objectives of this study is intuitive. If a healthcare organization is able to identify the factors that influence the effectiveness of customer relationship management in increasing the level of customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, the healthcare organization will be in a more advantageous position. The variables that affect the effectiveness of CRM strategies will help develop the business of the healthcare organization, which translates to an improvement of the healthcare sector. Therefore, knowing the critical factors that are important in implementing a CRM strategy will help managers make more reliable and effective decisions. Analyzing the CRM strategies that are implemented by healthcare organizations today will help organizations identify what problems they need to address to improve their services and provide them the necessary background information needed for the organization to solve these issues. These organizations can further the findings of this research paper by gathering more information and conducting principal component analysis with respect to their organization’s processes and objectives.

3. Literature Review and Conceptual Framework


3.1 CRM Defined

There are many definitions of Customer Relationship Management or CRM. CRM is widely acknowledged as a very broad term for strategies that are implemented to manage the interaction between the business organization and its clients (Gartner, Inc., 2009). The interaction between business organizations and clients involve the use of technology which is utilized in organizing, automating, synchronizing, extracting, collating and analysing information to improve the speed of business processes. These business processes include marketing, sales, and post-sales customer service. CRM is also defined as actions that are driven by the business organization’s goals of finding, attracting and retaining customers. CRM is also viewed as a strategy for reducing the costs of business processes such as marketing and customer service, among other business processes that are critical for the organization.

The CRM philosophy is in fact a business strategy that is supported by human and technological systems. CRM is an operational and transactional method that enables the business organization to improve the interaction between the business organization and its customers. The CRM philosophy is often focused on the business organization’s departments that have the most interaction with customers. These departments typically are marketing, sales and customer support (Greenberg, 2009).

CRM was initially thought of as a way to implement process modification and cultural change. The reason behind this original view of CRM is due to the then early application of technology and automation for managing customer data. Previously, business organizations manually manage information to support the company’s goals of improving productivity, increasing revenues, generating higher margins, effectively implementing management campaigns and reducing costs through manual manipulation and analysis of data. The advent of more intuitive, efficient and effective information technology platforms have enabled companies to take advantage of better data analysis, thus, leading to a more streamlined approach to business process management. A streamlined approach to managing each and every step of the business process leads to a better alignment of between the business organization’s missions and objectives and the management strategies that are being implemented.

The principle that drives the application of CRM strategies simply point out that the key to a business organization’s sustainability is to take on a perspective that mirrors the perspective of the business organization’s customers. If the business organization decides to take a customer-centric perspective, then the business organization will be able to plan specific business objectives and strategies that cater to the customer’s needs. These strategies will crafted to produce quick and effective results and will cause more involvement from customers. Having a larger customer involvement will translate to more value for the customers which, then translates to better profits for the business organization (Thompson, 1967).

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The healthcare sector is one of the many service industry participants that benefit from the implementation of a well-crafted CRM strategy. Healthcare professionals and organizations benefit from the CRM strategy because it builds trusts with their customers. Scholarly studies indicate that customers of healthcare organizations feel alienated if trust is not built between them and the healthcare professional administering healthcare service. If the environment in a healthcare organization does not foster trust and credibility, the quality and efficiency of healthcare services will be severely affected (Yina, 2010).

Cheng et al noted that CRM utilizes a lot of technologies including web technology. CRM enables healthcare organizations to provide extended services that are over and above the traditional range of services healthcare organizations are capable of doing (Cheng, et al., 2008). CRM also provides the environment with which the healthcare organization will be able to achieve its highly personalized, sophisticated patient-care goals. With CRM, the healthcare organization will be able to capture the critical information from clients, use the captured information carefully, formulate effective healthcare services, and provide the utmost level of quality.

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