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ISSN : 1598-7248 (Print)
ISSN : 2234-6473 (Online)
Industrial Engineering & Management Systems Vol.17 No.4 pp.653-661
DOI : https://doi.org/10.7232/iems.2018.17.4.653

Examining the Effect of Marketing Mix Elements on Customer Satisfaction with Mediating Role of Electronic Customer Relationship Management

Morteza Mohammadi*, Tahmoores Sohrabi
Master of Science, Management Faculty, Islamic Azad University Central Tehran Branch, Tehran, Iran
* Corresponding Author, E-mail: mortezamohammady@yahoo.com
December 4, 2017 July 20, 2018 September 17, 2018

ABSTRACT


In the business environment, technological change, information technology and new business practices are increasing. The customer is considered as a valuable asset. So, customer orientation and customer preservation are considered as a strategy for creating competitive advantage. Organizations will be successful only if they satisfy their customers. Therefore, this research aims to achieve a mechanism adapted to new e-commerce methods to investigate the effect of marketing mix elements on customer satisfaction with the presence of the mediating variable of electronic customer relationship management. The present research is an applied study conducted with using the descriptive-correlational method. The sample size is 384 people from all of the customers who referred to the active electronic stores in the time period of collecting the research data and purchased their products. The tools used in this research were standard marketing mix questionnaire, customer satisfaction questionnaire, and standard customer relationship management electronic questionnaire. The reliability of them by Cronbach’s alpha was 0.82, 0.83 and 0.92, respectively. Confirmatory factor analysis method was used for investigating the validity. The data were analyzed by using Pearson correlation and structural equation modeling. The results showed that the marketing mix elements have a positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction with the presence of intermediary variable of customer relationship management. This can maintain customers, satisfy them, and attract new customers.



초록


    1. INTRODUCTION AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

    In the global economy, survival of an organization depends on customers. Organizations can no longer be indifferent to the expectations of customers. They must provide all their activities and capabilities with the customers, because they are the only source for the return of capital. Therefore, one of the main strategies in today’s business world is to create customer-friendly values. In other words, business people and those who are thinking of eternal survival in this field know well that customer orientation is very important. The motto “customer is always right” is always in their agenda. Meanwhile, with the progress of knowledge and information technology, customers have become more precise and their expectations have increased. Therefore, the organizations need to increase their employees’ skills and abilities to meet their needs and desires and satisfy customers. In general, customer orientation and proper response to their demands are important. Establishing a proper relationship with customers and give them satisfaction will lead to more dynamic and more successful company. Today, only customers with a sense of belonging to the organization are considered as profitable and long-term assets. Therefore, in today’s competitive market, organizations tend to maintain their customers according to customer satisfaction and loyalty programs. And their ultimate goal is to succeed in acquiring and retaining the intention of repurchasing.

    Also, the emergence of e-commerce has led to significant changes in many aspects of existing commerce, including the creation of new companies with new business models, business opportunities and new ways of business processing. So, the electronic commerce is an alternative to communications in the areas of sales, marketing and customer support. These changes could provide a new type of competitive advantage for customer relationship management, especially with the use of networked systems such as the Internet, Intranet and Extranet. In order to reach the goal, organizations must develop appropriate models for monitoring customer performance by analyzing, tracking and managing e-commerce events. The organizations should try to create new needs and demands for customers based on concepts of new marketing, which means the knowledge and art of finding, maintaining and growing customers. They should use partnership and understanding instead of using power in order to manage relationships with customers and ensure them of profitability. Organizations should pay special attention to the interests and expectations of customers, because the interests of the organization depend on the interest of the customers. So, finding the needs and desires of customers and meeting them before other competitors is a fundamental condition for success of companies. Therefore, businesses are struggling to achieve a better position through their unique benefits. Considering the important role of the customers in achieving the competitive goals and survival of the organization, the main responsibilities of marketing in each organization is to identify needs and desires, determine the target markets to serve them, design of products, and provide profitable customer services. So, they can take more share of the market. The marketing mix includes all the things that the company can do to influence the demand for its products (Bollen, 1989). According to Bollen, the customer’s behavior is like a black box; this attitude is used when converting input to output is complex. Based on Bollen attitude, marketing mix elements, environmental factors, and consumer characteristics enter the black box and the decision making process is formed. In this regard, communication and factors affecting customer behavior play an important role in this process (Bollen, 1989). Electronic Customer Relationship Management is the most recent communication and customer relationship method in which has been invested heavily.

    There are changes in the field of marketing and customer service and the need for organizations with effective strategies for success in the business in the era of massive technological advances and information technology. The vacuum of research with this approach is due to the innovation of new concept such as electronic customer relationship management in the area of ecommerce and customer relationship. Also, the special cultural and social context of the selected statistical community make it necessary to conduct the current study. Accordingly, in this study, the effect of marketing mix elements on customer satisfaction with the presence of the mediating variable of electronic customer relationship management is discussed. This research seeks to answer this question; do marketing mix elements have a positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction through mediation of electronic customer relationship management?

    2. THEORETICAL LITERATURE

    2.1. Marketing Mix

    The global business environment is associated with increasing complexity, rapid changes, and unexpected developments in markets (Staude and Mason, 2007). So, among the issues facing marketing planners in order to achieve sustainable competitive advantage is the design and development of an effective marketing mix. The marketing mix is the controllable variables that can influence customers if used properly. Disputes in the literature of this field generally refer to the recognition of these controllable variables.

    The most commonly used definition of marketing mix in order to properly rank in the target market is to supply a suitable product at the right place, at the right price, and at the right time. Effective elements in marketing are called marketing mix, which is “A set of tools available to the organization through which it delivers its goods or services.” One of the roles of marketing managers is to decide on a marketing mix, which a systematic and coordinated approach should be establish between its components in order to be effective in influencing and convincing customers. In other words, the proper product should be available to customers with appropriate price and with using suitable communication and promotion methods.

    2.1.1. Marketing Mix 4p

    The concept of marketing mix was first introduced by Nil Borden in 1949. However, the most commonly used variables in the formulation of marketing mix (product, price, promotion, and distribution) were proposed by McCarthy and became known as 4p (McCarthy, 2001).

    The marketing mix or 4p involves the product and its subsets (variety, design quality, features, brand name, packaging, size, service, warranties, support, return, etc.), distribution and its subsets (distribution channels, coverage, composition and suitability of the product, inventory, transportation, logistics, source point, geographic position of the target market, etc.), promotion and its subsets (advertising, introduction, public relations, sales promotion, personal sales and direct marketing, ...), and price and its subsets (list of prices, discounts, special aids, payment periods, credit terms, etc.). There should be a systematic and coordinated approach between these components to be able to influence and persuade customers. In other words, a suitable product should be available to customers at reasonable prices, appropriate distribution, and appropriate communication and promotion methods. Each of the four components of the McCarthy model is considered separately:

    • Product: The product is the most basic tool for combining marketing elements. The product is the tangible supply of the firm to the market, which covers the variety, quality, design, characteristics, brand name, packaging, size, service, guarantees and returned items. A product is something that is presented to the market for attention, purchase and use, which may satisfy the need or desire. A product can include a physical object, service, location, organization, and even an idea or thought.

    • Price: The price is the amount of money a customer must pay for a product. Its subsets include: List of prices, discounts, special aids, payment periods, credit terms, etc. In fact, the price is the value that customers exchange for the benefits of having and using a product or service. The price is different from other marketing mix factors; the price is revenue generating, but others are costly.

    • Distribution or location: When we talk about distribution, we mean the activities that the company is doing to make the product available to consumers. Its subsets include distribution channels (wholesaler, retailer, representation, branches), coverage, composition and product suitability, inventory, transportation, logistics, etc.

    • Sales Promotion Activities: The fourth element of the marketing mix is the promotion activities, which are the latest operational part of the company’s marketing system. A mix of promotional activities is a set of advertising, personal selling, sales promotions, and public relations that are used to achieve sales goals (Rusta et al., 2009).

    2.2. Electronic Customer Relationship Management

    In today’s competitive arena, organizations need to keep pace with the developments in science and technology, develop their knowledge, and create a central feature in them. This competitive advantage is achieved when the organization creates an effective relationship with its customers. Customer relationship management is a continuous process of identifying and creating new value with each customer, and then sharing its benefits throughout the life of the company. This requires the perception, concentration on and management of continuous cooperation between the producer and selected customer for the creation of a mutual value and sharing of it through organizational affiliation and regulation. Among the advances in technology, the emergence of the Internet may be considered to be the most important realm affecting the business world and, consequently, customer relationship management. With its interactive nature, this achievement has created a very good platform for managers to achieve consistent and high quality customer relationships. High speed, cost effectiveness, permanent access, efficiency in information transmission and integrated and separate nature are the main motivation for using this category to improve customer relationship management.

    Kellen (2002) has described customer relationship management as “a business strategy for gaining a longterm competitive advantage by optimizing time and quality of delivery to the customer and simultaneously extracting business value.” In other words, it is a kind of win-win strategy that customers and companies gain what they want from one another through a stronger link with each other. In other words, electronic customer relationship management is an online and integrated marketing, sales and services strategy which plays the role of customer relationship management in identifying, obtaining, and maintaining customers (as the company’s greatest asset). Electronic Customer Relationship is defined as an integral part of online distribution and marketing. It extends traditional customer relationship techniques through the integration of new electronic channel technologies such as the Web and integrating them with e-commerce from the overall customer relationship management strategy of the organization. Electronic customer relationship management improves communication between the company and its customers by creating and enhancing customer-related communication through new technology. In fact, the main goal of electronic customer relationship management is to attract better customers to increase loyalty and profit (Tan et al., 2002). However, it’s much more difficult to achieve customer loyalty in electronic customer relationship management than in traditional customer relationship management. However, the benefits of using electronic customer relationship management are so significant that organizations in the new virtual world need such tools to survive. In other word, the main goal of electronic customer relationship management is to understand the values and behave well with customers in order to increase their loyalty and, therefore, the profitability of the company. Therefore, companies should rely on “re-establishing the relationship between companies and customers” rather than relying on the traditional model of “trying to sell more”.

    2.3. Customer Satisfaction

    Understanding how the positive and negative attitudes of customers towards services and products are formed, and their effect on purchasing behavior is an important theoretical issue. Customer satisfaction is the feeling or attitude of a customer towards a product or service after using it (Jamal and Naser, 2002). In other words, satisfaction is a positive feeling that is created in a person after the use of goods or receiving services. The “satisfaction” depends on the ability of the service provider to meet the customer’s norms and expectations. Therefore, the expectation is created of the confrontation between customer expectations and supplier performance. If the goods and services received by the customer are evaluated at the level of expectations, they will feel satisfied. If the level of services and goods is higher than the level of customer expectations, it will make the customer happy. And the quality lower than expectations results in customer dissatisfaction. They define satisfaction as the customer's pleasant or unpleasant feelings comparing the performance of the purchased good / service with the customer’s expected performance of that product / service. Customer satisfaction is a key to achieve the use of a product or service. In addition, this satisfaction has a positive correlation with the intention of re-purchasing. Also, satisfied customers are less sensitive to price, are less influenced by competitors and remain loyal to the company for a long time. Satisfaction is a factor that exists in almost all loyalty patterns and affects loyalty. That’s why customers are considered as a competitive advantage. This competitive advantage is achieved when there is an effective communication with customers, and this is achieved when it is possible to analyze the behavior of potential and actual consumers from various dimensions. So, organizations can apply customer-oriented attitude in the community.

    2.4. Literature Review

    Mohammadzadeh et al. (2017) conducted a research in Japan on the impact of implementing customer relationship management on customer satisfaction and, his loyalty and profit from the return on retail sales. They found in this study that there is a relationship between customer relationship management and customer satisfaction.

    Kooli et al. (2016) showed that the existence of customer relationship management systems in organizations encourages customers to use these systems to increase customer satisfaction. Therefore, it improves the organization’s relationship with customers and suppliers.

    Liu et al. (2012) examined the impact of electronic customer relationship management approach on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Their research findings showed that electronic customer relationship management has increased customer satisfaction, which in turn has a positive effect on customer loyalty.

    O’Cass and Heirati (2015) in a research entitled “The dominance of marketing mix elements and customer- oriented capabilities to enhance the performance of new products” showed that market-oriented companies are better at expanding the elements of marketing, brand management, and customer relationship management, and this capabilities help to improve the performance of new products. They also showed that these marketing capabilities improve the organization’s capacity to succeed in new products more than each of them alone.

    In his research, Ahmad et al. (2013) showed that there is a strong relationship between marketing performance and customer relationship management, meaning that customer relationship management has a significant impact on the efficiency of marketing performance.

    Al Muala et al. (2012) in a research entitled “The Effect of Marketing Strategy on Hospital Function Measured by Patient Satisfaction” showed that the presence of marketing mix elements had a significant relationship with patient satisfaction.

    Maheb (2002) in an article studied the effects of knowledge management on customer relationship management. Their research findings show that knowledge management has a positive and significant effect on different aspects of customer relationship management such as customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, customer attraction and customer interaction. Based on the findings, knowledge management has the most impact on customer satisfaction, and variables of loyalty, attraction and interaction are in the next levels.

    Burns and Neisner, (2006) in his research entitled “The Effect of Marketing Elements on Customer Satisfaction” showed that marketing mix elements have a positive effect on customer satisfaction.

    3. HYPOTHESES AND CONCEPTUAL MODEL OF THE RESEARCH

    3.1. Research Hypotheses

    Hypothesis 1: Marketing mix elements have a positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction.

    Hypothesis 2: Marketing mix elements have a positive and significant effect on electronic customer relationship management.

    Hypothesis 3: Electronic customer relationship management has a positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction.

    Hypothesis 4: Marketing mix elements have a positive and significant effect on the customer satisfaction with the mediating role of electronic customer relationship management.

    3.2. Conceptual Model of the Research

    In the model, the Kim and Hyun (2010) model is used in conjunction with marketing mix elements. The model includes four main dimensions: product, price, distribution and promotion. Their model was used for electronic customer relationship management. Lee and Turban (2001) model was used for customer satisfaction, which consists of four main dimensions: ease of access, security, support, and services and costs.

    4. METHODOLOGY OF THE RESEARCH

    The research is an applied study, because its findings are used to increase the awareness of existing and active ecommerce organizations about increased customer satisfaction policies and, consequently, profitability. In terms of data collection, it is a descriptive-correlational research. It is considered as survey research, because the required information is obtained from the current status of the statistical sample by using a questionnaire. The statistical population, studied in the fall of 2016, was an unlimited number of all customers who referred to the active electronic stores in the time of collecting data. The sample size for this research was 384 people. Non-random convenience method is used for sampling. The research is a cross-sectional study. To verify the reliability of the tool, Cronbach’s Alpha was first calculated. Then, an affirmative factor analysis is carried out to determine which of the questions should be deleted to somehow confirm the validity. Finally, by using correlation, the structural equation model of the research hypotheses has been investigated. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS18, LISREL8.80 software. Given the views of academic experts and experts in the field of management, and using standard questionnaires in the research, the validity can be verified.

    4.1. Research Tools

    4.1.1. Marketing Mix Elements Questionnaire

    Marketing mix elements questionnaire has been designed with regard to 4 dimensions of product, price, distribution and promotion in the form of 5 point Likert scale. It has 15 items which were measured based on Kim and Hyun (2010) questionnaire. The used questionnaire is standard and therefore its validity is acceptable.

    4.1.2. Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire

    The Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire was designed according to 4 dimensions of ease and accessibility, security, support, and services and costs in the form of Likert’s 5-choice scale. It has 20 items which were measured by the Lee and Turban (2001) questionnaire. The used questionnaire is standard and therefore its validity is acceptable.

    4.1.3. Electronic Customer Relationship Management Questionnaire

    Electronic Customer Relationship Management Questionnaire has been designed in the form of 5 point Likert scale with 13 items, measured questionnaire. The used questionnaire is standard and therefore its validity is acceptable.Figure 1

    5. FINDINGS AND RESULTS

    5.1. Evaluation of Reliability Indices, Sampling Adequacy and Confirmatory Factor Analysis

    Sampling adequacy index (KMO) is able to determine the suitability of data for factor analysis. If the KMO value is less than 0.5, the data will not be suitable for factor analysis. If the value is between 0.5 and 0.69, factor analysis can be done with more caution. If its value is greater than 0.7, the correlation between the data for the factor analysis will be appropriate (Lotfi and Vidyasagar, 2017). The Cronbach Alpha coefficient is presented in the following table. All of them show acceptable values that represent the acceptable fitting of the measurement models Table 1.

    Factor analysis is used to measure the validity of measuring scales. The results of the confirmatory factor analysis of all three research indicators including marketing mix elements, customer satisfaction, and electronic customer relationship management showed that the factor loading of all the items in the optimal condition was higher than 0.3, and it is significant at the level of a < 0.05. The results of the first and second order confirmatory factor analysis for each of the indicators were reported as follows Table 2.

    5.2. Correlation Test

    The relationships between the indices of the variables of research, and their extent are investigated by using Pearson Correlation test. As shown in Table 3, all existing correlations are significant (P < 0.01), which means that all of these variables are mutually related to each other. Table 3 shows that the correlation coefficient between customer satisfaction and electronic customer relationship management is 0.709, which is significant at the level of 0.01. The correlation coefficient between customer satisfaction and marketing mix elements is 0.40. Also, the correlation coefficient between marketing mix elements and electronic customer relationship management is 0.834, which is significant at the level of 0.01.

    5.3. Structural Equation Test

    The results of the first and second order confirmatory factor analysis shown that all three constructs have the necessary validity and reliability. So, in this section, the overall structure of the conceptual model of the research is tested to determine the fitness of the proposed model with the research data, and its validity. As shown in Figure 2 and Table 4, the model is in a good position in terms of the fit indices.

    Hypothesis 1: Marketing mix elements have a significant effect on customer satisfaction of the electronic stores.

    As the following model shows, marketing mix elements do not have a significant effect on the customer satisfaction of electronic stores. Therefore, the first hypothesis of the research is rejected (β = 0.17, t= 1.56, p > .05).

    Hypothesis 2: Marketing mix elements have a significant effect on electronic customer relationship management.

    Marketing mix elements have a positive, direct (0.92) and significant (14.46) effect on electronic customer relationship management. Therefore, the second hypothesis of the research is confirmed (β =0.92, t=14.46, p < .05).

    Hypothesis 3: Electronic customer relationship management has a significant effect on customer satisfaction in electronic stores.

    Electronic customer relationship management has positive, direct (0.75) and significant (6.39) effect on customer satisfaction. Therefore, the third hypothesis of the research is confirmed (β =0.75, t=6.39, p < .05) .

    Hypothesis 4: Marketing mix elements with the mediation of electronic customer relationship management have a significant effect on customer satisfaction in electronic stores.

    Given the confirmation of the second and third hypotheses, the fourth hypothesis, namely the mediation of electronic customer relationship management in the relationship between marketing mix elements and customer satisfaction, is also confirmed. By affirming the mediating role of electronic customer relationship management, marketing mix elements have an indirect, positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction of electronic stores (β = 0.70, t= 6.64, p<.05). It is concluded that although marketing mix elements do not directly affect the customer satisfaction of electronic stores, they indirectly affects the customer satisfaction of electronic stores through the intermediation of electronic customer relationship management.

    6. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Considering the importance of customer satisfaction as one of the strategic goals for organizations to create competitive advantage as well as new business forms and approaches, the importance of the key role of marketing in achieving the goals of the organization and maintaining competitive conditions becomes more prominent. Therefore, the present study sought to investigate and explain the relationship between marketing mix elements and customer satisfaction in the presence of the intermediate variable of electronic customer relationship management. Based on the analysis of the data, the following results can be deduced.

    Marketing mix elements do not have a positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction, which rejects the first hypothesis of the research. The results of this study were not consistent with some of the related researches in this field. The researchers have attempted to recall some of these studies; in their research showed that marketing mix elements have a positive effect on customer satisfaction. The same findings were repeated in Burns and Neisner, (2006); in their research in hospitals, they showed that the presence of marketing mix elements has a significant relationship with patient satisfaction. Al Muala and Al Qurneh (2012) concluded in a tourism research that the elements of marketing mix have a positive effect on increasing customer satisfaction as well as customer loyalty. Also, Geravand et al. (2010) showed in their research that customer satisfaction is a function of the quality, price, advertising and distribution variables, which are known as components of marketing mix. According to the results of the research, the direct relationship between marketing mix elements and customer satisfaction was not confirmed. It can be said that from customers’ perspective, the dimensions of the marketing mix elements considered in this study have no significant relationship with customer satisfaction.

    Marketing mix elements have a positive and significant effect on electronic customer relationship management. The results of this study are consistent with related researches in this field. Researchers have sought to recall relevant research in this regard; Research in the field of insurance industry showed that marketing mix elements and its dimensions have a positive impact on customer relationship management system. However, there was no significant relationship between service delivery, as one of the well-known dimensions of marketing mix elements, and relationship management. The same findings were repeated in the study of O’Cass and Heirati (2015). They showed in their research that there is a significant role between the elements of marketing mix and customer relationship management, pointing out that this role will lead to better marketing and organization.

    Electronic customer relationship management has a positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction. The results of this study are consistent with related researches in this field. Researchers have sought to highlight relevant research in this regard; The same findings were repeated in the studies of Kooli et al. (2016). They found in their research that the existence of the customer relationship system increased customer satisfaction. In a study, Miami and Dawson concluded that the implementation of customer relationship management system would increase customer satisfaction as well as customer loyalty and, as a result, increase the profitability of the organization. In another study, Liu et al. (2012) showed that electronic customer relationship management has a positive effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Khalifa and Shen (2005), and Dhingra and Dhingra (2013) also showed that electronic customer relationship management factors have a positive and significant effect on customer satisfaction.

    According to the obtained model (Figure 2) and the confirmation of the second and third hypotheses of research, the fourth hypothesis of the research was confirmed. So, the marketing mix elements have an indirect, positive and significant effect on the customer satisfaction in the presence of the mediating variable of electronic customer relationship management. As noted, customers are a valuable asset to organizations. They are considered as one of the key factors in the success and survival of organizations in the current business world. Therefore, according to the results of the research and the importance of the role and position of electronic customer relationship management in customer satisfaction, the following recommendation should be take into consideration. The necessary infrastructure and supporting culture to implement effective electronic customer relationship management in organizations should be emphasized and prioritized, especially in those organization using modern methods of e-commerce.

    Given that the current research has been conducted among the customers of electronic stores, in order to generalize its results to other organizations, this study should be carried out in different parts of the organization according to its organizational characteristics and conditions by using more samples. One of the limitations of this research is that the information obtained through the questionnaire. According to this, the possibility of providing unrealistic responses by participants, due to inaccurate understanding of the questions, can distort the results. Of course, we tried to reduce the possibility by providing the necessary explanations and allocating enough time to have the questionnaires filled.

    Figure

    IEMS-17-653_F1.gif

    Conceptual model.

    IEMS-17-653_F2.gif

    The coefficients of the standard approximation of structural equations (significant numbers).

    Table

    Cronbach’s alpha; Sampling adequacy index for research variables

    Fitness indices of the first and second order confirmatory factor analysis of the research variables

    Correlation observed between indices of the model

    Structural equation fitting indices

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