Zorzini, M and Stevenson, M and Hendry, L (2008) Customer Enquiry Management in a Global Competitive Context: A Comparative Multi-Case Study Analysis. Working Paper. The Department of Management Science, Lancaster University.
Business-to-Business (B2B) relationships, such as between a manufacturer and a customer, are increasingly important during the Customer Enquiry Management (CEM) process, particularly so for non-Make-To-Stock (non-MTS) companies operating in industrial markets. Few empirical studies have explored the CEM practices adopted by firms in practice. A study of the Italian capital goods sector by Zorzini et al. (2007) is a recent exception. Moreover, most studies have approached CEM from a cross-department integrated perspective but in the digital economy, and with globalization, outsourcing and extended supply chains, CEM needs to be approached from a broader supply chain-oriented perspective, incorporating B2B exchanges. This paper builds on the study by Zorzini et al. (2007) by conducting multi-case study research with seven UK-based companies in the capital goods sector, including three sales and support companies with offshore manufacturing. By adopting a cross-national research perspective, it assesses whether the proposed theory applies to other capital goods firms outside Italy. By also adopting a supply chain perspective of CEM it investigates current industry practice in B2B markets and explores whether cross-functional coordination and formalization issues can be extended into a global context. Evidence from the UK generally supports prior theory, confirming links between high levels of coordination, formalization of the CEM process and improved performance. Some refinements are proposed, for example, in order to make the theory suitable for a global context. The characteristics of a supply chain are important factors that affect CEM. This research has managerial implications for improving the CEM process in non-Make-To-Stock (non-MTS) capital goods companies from both an intra and an inter-organisational (B2B) perspective. Coordination with partners along the supply chain is needed at the enquiry stage and constraints linked to global customers should be considered when structuring the C
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