Socially integrative customer service (SICS) : identification of a symbiotic link with corporate social responsibility
The aim of this study is to answer the research question "can customer service be revitalised through identification of a symbiotic relationship with social responsibility, linked by people-centricity?" The concept of customer service remains weak and there has been a lack of attention to the underlying purpose: "to serve". To strengthen the theory the humanistic nature of the concept should be revised. Fundamental to this argument is the question of who is a customer? To fully discover the scope of the concept requires a broader or more specifically a societal view. Herein the theme of social corporate responsibility is critical to the recognition of the customer service network (CSN). This suggestion in isolation is useful but structural. Another aspect must be identified to validate the "service" ethos. Through this reasoning the relational theme (RT) provides for a mechanism for this to be achieved. Therefore the theory of socially integrative customer service is based on broadening and deepening the customer service concept. This study is illustrated in the context of the grocery retail sector in the Republic of Ireland. Four case studies are presented, three based on company-wide and in-store research and a fourth is a cross-company study. Results across companies indicate acceptance of the research question and show evidence to validate SICS. There is scope to further develop SICS and to build on the CSN and the RT. Finally the concept of SICS provides for a diverse basis for further research. This theory does no purport to cause a paradigm shift but does add innovation to the body of knowledge. As is the hallmark of good theoretical development, the author has aimed to keep the philosophy simple.
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