The communication efforts of cellular companies to improve relationship marketing.
The development of relationship marketing, which is oriented towards developing lasting relationships with clients, emerged in the 1990's. The concept suggests that by better understanding customers on an individual level and by delivering to them information, products and services targeted to their specific needs, marketers can develop a long-term relationship with them that translates into worthwhile profits. Thus, relationship marketing focuses on customer orientation, with high service emphasis and high customer contact. Relationship marketing uses improved information technology to regularly communicate with firm customers and to base product/service offerings on the customer's buying behaviour. Computer linkages, advertising, personal selling, sales promotion, sponsorships, publicity, special events and exhibitions aid communication among channel members and also create a relationship between buyer and seller. Whilst research has been conducted on a general aspect of relationship marketing, there appears to be no significant study on how communication efforts can promote relationship marketing in the cellular industry. It is the intention of this study to examine the way in which relationship marketing is currently being employed in the cellular industry and to assess how improved communication can result in the effective application thereof. The objectives of this study are to investigate whether the communication efforts of the cellular operating companies are satisfying customers, to establish if the communication tools used by the companies are effective in promoting relationship marketing and to explore whether existing customers will become advocates of the company. Ethical clearance was obtained from the Research Administration at the University of KwaZulu -Natal. All subjects were aware of the purpose of the study and the aims and objectives. All subjects signed and consented to be part of the study. The target population consists of existing cellular phone users from whom the researcher attempted to draw conclusions and make generalizations. In KwaZulu-Natal, 251 cellular phone users volunteered and participated in this study. Informed consent was required of each of the respondents. 53% were contract customers and 38% were prepaid customers. There were 94 males (38%) and 141 females (56%) in the sample. The overall response rate was 83.7%. The main results yielded from this study indicated that cellular phone users were satisfied with the communication efforts of their service providers. Therefore, the communication tools used by their service providers were effective in creating, maintaining and enhancing relationships with their customers. Also it was very evident that existing customers are advocates of their service provider and will continue to be so into the future. This study recommends that customers must understand and be informed of the future direction that their service provider will take. They must be informed of long and medium term plans, new developments and any fundamental changes that are going to take place. Since service is the nerve centre of any organization, service providers must improve on their service to customers. Service providers should conduct regular satisfaction surveys to get feedback from customers and monitor their attitudes towards them and assess the performance on their accounts. The fulfilment of these recommendations will promote and enhance relationship marketing in the cellular industry.