Customer relationship management and its perceived value from the perspective of SME owners/managers

Prof Johannes A. Wiid

Vol 19 | Issue 1 pp. 128-158


Recent years have seen the world economy wreaking havoc among businesses large and small. As such, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing multiple challenges. This study examines the effect of SME owners’/managers’ awareness of customer relations and the management thereof; the perceived value of good customer relations; customer relationship management in practice; and the business systems required to foster proper customer relations on the strength of relationships between customers and SMEs. A survey questionnaire was hand-delivered to 300 SMEs operating in the Tshwane metropolitan area in Gauteng, South Africa. A total of 276 useful responses were returned to the researcher, representing a response rate of 92 per cent. IBM SPSS Statistics Version 28 was used to perform descriptive as well as inferential analyses of the quantitative data. Most responding SMEs (83.5%) believed that their customer relationships were strong to very strong. It was found that participating SME owners/managers regarded perceived value of good customer relationships as the only construct that has a significant influence on strong customer relationships. Good relationships with customers were regarded as a mechanism for survival and increased sales, and the owners/managers of the participating SMEs believed that their customers would visit their establishments and buy merchandise regardless of price and quality if sound relationships were in place.

Keywords: Business systems, customer relations management (CRM), customer value, small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), South Africa, perception

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