Institut for Forretningsudvikling og Teknologi

Ismail Golgeci

COVID-19 Driven Challenges in international B2B Customer Relationship Management: Empirical Insights from Finnish High-Tech Industrial Microenterprises

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

  • Ahmad Arslan, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu
  • ,
  • Ismail Golgeci
  • Zaheer Khan, University of Aberdeen, Storbritannien
  • Petri Ahokangas, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
  • Lauri Haapanen, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu
Purpose
This paper focuses on the influences of the COVID-19 pandemic on B2B firms’ relationship initiation and customer relationship management in an under-explored and unique context of high-tech industrial microenterprises. We analyze the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in a specific context of B2B relationship initiation and customer relationship management dynamics by examining Finnish B2B industrial microenterprises.
Methodology/Approach
The paper uses exploratory in-depth case studies undertaken in three Finnish industrial microenterprises to analyze the influences of the COVID-19 pandemic on their new business relationship initiation, as well as relationship management with the current customers.
Findings
The case firms quickly adjusted to the “new normal” and used a number of technological resources, including online meetings and 3-D demonstrations, among others. A key reason for this quick adjustment was them being microenterprises. However, despite this, lack of access to customer sites remained a hindrance as their products need to fit certain production processes, which cannot be done without physical visits. Furthermore, the development of trust with new customers, especially those based in emerging markets, was challenging due to the lack of physical meetings and site visits.
Research Implications
Our research highlights the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to B2B relationships and gives an account of the changing dynamics of relationship initiation and customer relationship management amid technological and societal disruptions. It also highlights the continued role of personal relationships and psychical meetings in such relationships. As such, our research informs B2B research that examines the role of personal relationships in B2B marketing.
Practical Implications
The study offers industrial microenterprise executives insights into how to face and tackle COVID-19 driven challenges in B2B customer relationship management and how to integrate technological tools in relationship management practices while understanding where face-to-face meetings are indispensable.
Originality/Value/Contributions
The study demonstrates areas in which virtual tools can and cannot be substitutes for conventional means of B2B relationship initiation and customer relationship management across developed and emerging markets. It also highlights the specificities of industrial microenterprises and their business development and customer relationship management dynamics mechanisms, a research area that has been rather ignored by prior studies.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Organizational Analysis
ISSN1934-8835
StatusAccepteret/In press - 2021

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