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Customer Experience and Relationship Management


Merlo O.

Course director


Students must attend at least 50% of lectures, and must take part in the group project.

Course objectives
By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Manage the entire customer experience process, before, during and after the purchase.
  • Develop strategies that place customers at the core of the company’s strategic thinking.
  • Build and maintain profitable relationships with customers by focusing on the entire customer experience.
  • Identify and fine-tune the critical moments that define a successful customer experience and that lead to valuable long-term relationships.
  • Design, deploy and manage effective customer experiences and CRM strategies with a view to achieving a competitive advantage.

Course description
The profitability of any company increasingly depends on its ability to design and deploy effective customer experiences and implement successful customer relationship strategies. Customer experience design and customer relationship management are closely intertwined. While the quality of the customer experience will determine to a large extent the nature of the relationship companies can establish with their customers, customer relationship management itself also serves to enhance the customer's overall experience.

A customer experience is the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company over the duration of their relationship with that company. It starts with the way a customer becomes aware of a brand’s existence, and continues through the cycle of comparison, purchase, use of the product or service, the decision to renew or repurchase, any word-of-mouth effects, and all other relationship-defining activities.

Evidence shows that the companies that win in the moments that matter are those that obsess about customers, the experience they design and deploy for them, and the relationships they are able to build and sustain with them.

This course considers how to design and deploy the most effective strategies and tactics at each stage of the customer experience, that is, in the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase phases. We will look at each stage and consider how to build, strengthen and maintain effective customer experiences and sustainable customer relationships.

Learning methods
The teaching method is a blend of lectures, case studies, practical exercises & activities, and guest speakers.

Examination information
The final assessment for this course is based on a final written exam worth 70% of the final mark.
There is also a group-work element, worth 30% of the final grade, in the form of a presentation held in the final lectures. 

Required materials

The following book is the recommended reading in the course:
Omar Merlo (2020) Strategic Marketing, Amazon: London.


While students are not required to do pre-readings, those wishing to expand on the material covered in class can refer to the following papers:

• Berman, B. (2006) "Developing an Effective Customer Loyalty Program", California Management Review, 49(1), 123-148.
• Berman, B. (2005) "How to Delight your Customers", California Management Review, 48(1) 129-151.
• Berry, L, Carbone, L., & Haeckel, S.H. (2002) Managing the Total Customer Experience, MIT Sloan Management Review, April.
• Dowling, G.R. (1997) "Do Customer Loyalty Programs Really Work?”, MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer, 71-82.
• Eisingerich, A.B., Auh, S. & Merlo, O. (2014) “Acta Non Verba? The Role of Customer Participation and Word of Mouth in the Relationship Between Service Firms' Customer Satisfaction and Sales Performance”, Journal of Service Research, 17, 40-53.
• Hess, R.L., Ganesan, S. & Klein, N.M. (2003) "Service Failure and Recovery: The Impact of Relationship Factors on Customer Satisfaction", Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 31(2), 127-145.
• Jones, T.O. & Sasser, W.E. Jr. (1995) "Why Satisfied Customers Defect", Harvard Business Review, November-December, 88-99.
• KPMG Customer Experience Excellence Centre (2017), ”B2B Customer Experience: Winning in the Moments that Matter”, Report.
• Keller, K.L. (1993) “Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity,” Journal of Marketing, 57(1): pp.1-22
• Kim, W. and Mauborgne, R. (2004) “Blue Ocean Strategy”, Harvard Business Review.
• Kim, W. and Mauborgne, R. (2002) “Charting your Company’s Future”, Harvard Business Review.
• Lilijander, V. & Roos, I. (2002) "Customer-Relationship Levels—From Spurious to True Relationships", Journal of Services Marketing, 16(7), 593-614.
• Merlo, O. Eisingerich A.B., Shin, H.K., and Britton, R. (2019) “Avoiding the Pitfalls of Customer Participation“, MIT Sloan Management Review, August.
• Merlo, O., Eisingerich, A.B. & Auh, S. (2014) “Why Customer Participation Matters”, MIT Sloan Management Review, 55, 81-88.
• Merlo, O., Eisingerich, A.B., Auh, S. & Levstek J. (2018) "The Benefits and Implementation of Performance Transparency: The Why and How of Letting your Customers ‘See Through’ Your Business", Business Horizons, 61, 73-84.
• Merlo O. and Meier I. (2008) “Innovation in Market Research: The Ethnographic Method”, Strategic Innovators.
• Merlo, O., (2009) ”How To Win Friends And Influence People! Your people!”, The Human Factor.
• Rawson, A., Duncan, E & Jones, C. (2013) “The Truth about Customer Experience”, Harvard Business Review, September.
• Reichheld, F. (2006) “The Microeconomics of Customer Relationships” Sloan Management Review, 47(2), 73-78.
• Reichheld, F.F. & Sasser, W.E. Jr. (1990) "Zero Defection: Quality Comes to Services", Harvard Business Review, September-October, 3-8.
• Reichheld, F. (2001) “Lead for Loyalty”, Harvard Business Review, July, 76-84.
• Reichheld, F.F. (2003) "The One Number you Need to Grow", Harvard Business Review, December, 1-10.
• Reichheld, F.F. (1993) "Loyalty-Based Management", Harvard Business Review, March-April, 64-73.
• Reinartz, W. & Kumar, V. (2002) "The Mismanagement of Customer Loyalty", Harvard Business Review, 80(7):86-94.
• Rigby, D.K, Reichheld, F.F. & Schefter, P. (2002) "Avoid the Four Perils of CRM", Harvard Business Review, 5-11.
• Winer, R.S. (2001) ”A Framework for Customer Relationship Management”, California Management Review, 43(4), 89-105.
• Yei L., Eisingerich A.B., Auh S., Merlo O., & Chun, H. (2015) “Service Firm Performance Transparency How, When, and Why Does It Pay Off?”, Journal of Service Research, 18(4).

Case Studies

Several case studies are employed for class analysis and discussion and these will be made available to students before the start of the course.