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Richard Schuttler


Traditional big data analytics do not include the contextual facets that social media narratives and customer engagement do. There is currently a gap in research on how customer relations managers can integrate social media in their existing data analytics to improve business performance. The purpose of this qualitative, exploratory multiple case study was to further understand of how customer relations managers can use social media within the context of already existing data analytics across industries in Canada. Communication theory was the conceptual lens for assessing customer relations management and consumer feedback within an increasingly digital business environment. Purposeful sampling was used to identify 5 customer relations managers and 5 business analysts who engaged in customer relations management as well as 5 consumers who used social media to influence product or service offerings. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with the 15 participants and then analyzed using a scaffolded process involving hand coding and the use of qualitative data analysis software. The analysis resulted in 9 themes encompassing the benefits and constraints of social media as well as customer relations management. Themes included communication, responsiveness-knowing consumer needs, managerial competencies, trust and accountability, branding, IT/analytics, degrees of controlling the narrative, consumer involvement, and governance and strategy. Customer relations managers who embrace the themes identified in this study might improve their confidence, intentionality of practice, followership, and perceived accountability as social media platforms expand the public nature of e-commerce.