Customer knowledge management via social media: the case of Starbucks Alton Y.K Chua and Snehasish Banerjee
Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyze the extent to which the use of social media can support customer knowledge management (CKM) in organizations relying on a traditional bricks-and-mortar business model. Design/methodology/approach – The paper uses a combination of qualitative case study and netnography on Starbucks, an international coffee house chain. Data retrieved from varied sources such as newspapers, newswires, magazines, scholarly publications, books, and social media services were textually analyzed. Findings – Three major ﬁndings could be culled from the paper. First, Starbucks deploys a wide range of social media tools for CKM that serve as effective branding and marketing instruments for the organization. Second, Starbucks redeﬁnes the roles of its customers through the use of social media by transforming them from passive recipients of beverages to active contributors of innovation. Third, Starbucks uses effective strategies to alleviate customers’ reluctance for voluntary knowledge sharing, thereby promoting engagement in social media. Research limitations/implications – The scope of the paper is limited by the window of the data collection period. Hence, the ﬁndings should be interpreted in the light of this constraint. Practical implications – The lessons gleaned from the case study suggest that social media is not a tool exclusive to online businesses. It can be a potential game-changer in supporting CKM efforts even for traditional businesses. Originality/value – This paper represents one of the earliest works that analyzes the use of social media for CKM in an organization that relies on a traditional bricks-and-mortar business model. Keywords Customer knowledge management, Social media, Netnography, Brick-and-mortar business, Knowledge management, Business enterprise Paper type Case study
Alton Y.K Chua and Snehasish Banerjee are based in the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Organizations have long recognized knowledge management (KM) as an important business strategy (Hull et al., 2000). In order to manage customers’ increasing sophistication and changing preferences, the static knowledge-warehouse based approach of KM is undergoing a paradigm shift towards a dynamic customer-centric approach. Organizations recognize the need to develop cordial relationships with customers and serve them in their preferred ways. This calls for effective management of customer knowledge (Davenport et al., 2001). In fact, organizations capable of continuously creating new customer knowledge and effectively managing customer knowledge assets are the ones with competitive advantage over their rivals (Zhang, 2011). Hence, an emerging area of interest within KM research and practice involves customer knowledge management (CKM) (Kuhlen, 2003; Rowley, 2002). It refers to KM strategies pertaining to the management of organizational knowledge obtained through interactions between organizations and their customers (Zanjani et al., 2008).
The authors wish to acknowledge Erika Foo, Louise Lai, Helena Lee and Jacquelyn Wang for their roles in collecting part of the data used in this research. Received 11 October 2012 Revised 3 January 2013 8 January 2013 10 January 2013 Accepted 10 January 2013
VOL. 17 NO. 2 2013, pp. 237-249, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1367-3270
JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
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