The goal of a business is to create value by providing customers with desirable offerings and capturing surplus
value when customers buy these products. The value of a business is ultimately driven by how it manages its
relationships with its customers.
For over a century, businesses have created, managed, and utilized data on customers to improve customer
relations and optimize customer profitability. While the term “customer management” can be interpreted in a
number of ways, it’s commonly used to mean methods and policies that marketers have employed towards these
These are some highlights of the historical origins of customer management, from the advent of mail order retail in
the late 19th century to substantial conceptual and methodological developments in the late 20th century.
The Origins of Customer Management:
– Pre-1960: The Beginning of Customer Lists
Companies started mail order businesses to service rural consumers and kept good records of their
– 1960s-1970s: Adoption of Statistical Techniques
The commercial applications of computers began in the 1960s. This enabled companies to more efficiently
analyse their customer lists and begin to use more sophisticated methods of
– 1980s: Advances in Database Technology
During this era, the technology and methods introduced in the prior decade were significantly improved.
As a result, the term “database marketing” was introduced.
– 1990s: Conceptual and Methodological Development
The 1990s brought a large number of thought leaders to the problem of how to better manage customers.
Over the past several decades, customer management research has provided tools for businesses to
understand who their customers are, how much value they bring in, and how they will respond to
marketing activities. As computers become more powerful and new sources of data become available, the
scope of problems that customer management can address will grow with it.
Moving forward, further customer management research will undoubtedly be crucial for marketers to
grapple with, affording a number of consequential future research opportunities.
– (Marketing Science Institute, 2019)