企业通信术语定义管理功能，提供所有内部和外部的利益相关者群体赖以建立和保持良好的声誉依赖于组织的总体目标的有效沟通协调框架。Cees van Riel也定义了企业通信的管理工具，通过它所有的自觉运用形式的内部和外部沟通协调尽可能有效和高效地与总体目标创建良好的基础与群体。”。这些团体和个人在这样的群体被称为利益相关者，定义了一个利益相关者为“能影响或是由该组织的宗旨和目标的实现受到影响的任何团体或个人”。利益相关者的任何组织形式，组织和有效的沟通之间的整体性能的一个关键组成部分，这些利益相关者是一个必要的保证一般光滑的组织运作。这是因为组织的设置可以被描述为一个复杂的系统，是错综复杂的连接技术。
The term Corporate Communication defines a management function that offers a framework for the effective coordination of all internal and external communication with the overall purpose of establishing and maintaining favourable reputations with stakeholder groups upon which the organisation is dependent (Cornelissen, 2008: 5). Cees van Riel also defines corporate communications as, ‘an instrument of management by means of which all consciously used forms of internal and external communications are harmonized as effectively and efficiently as possible’ with the overall objective of creating ‘a favourable basis for relationships with groups upon which the company is dependant.’ (van Riel, 1995: 26). These groups and the individuals within such groups are referred to as stakeholders and Freeman (1984), defines a stakeholder as ‘any group or individual who can affect or is affected by the achievement of the organisation’s purpose and objectives’ (Freeman, 1984: 46, cited in Cornelissen, 2008). The stakeholders of any organisation form a key part of the overall performance of that organisation and effective communication between and amongst these stakeholders is a requisite for ensuring a generally smooth organizational operation (Scholes and Clutterbuck, 1998). This is because the organisational setting can be described as a complex system where people are intricately connected with processes, situations and technology and in touch with them daily (Helenbergh and Scoubeau, 2005).
The Stakeholder Model of Strategic Management (Cornelissen, 2008: 39) illustrates a two-way mode of communication between an organisation and all its stakeholders that presupposes that each group or individual legitimately connected with that organisation is equally important to the organisation irrespective of the benefits they may derive by virtue of being the organisation’s stakeholders. In an ‘over-communicated’ world such as currently exists, the question of whether or not stakeholders are genuinely interested in what organisations have to say is debatable, however, what is certain is that it is difficult for business organisations to catch the attention of its customers, moreover sustain their interest (Christensen and Cheny, 2000; Schudson, 1993). They suggest that this is the reason why organisations are increasingly more aggressive in their external communications strategies. Christensen and Cheney (2000) further concede that the ‘corporate communication environment has become extremely complex and volatile’ (pg. 250). Aside from business organisations pushing for bigger profits through marketing campaigns a growing awareness in corporate ethics and integrity could have also spurred a desire on the part of customers and other stakeholders, to know and be involved in issues related to corporate businesses (Scholes and Clutterbuck, 1998). Such knowledge and involvement would only become manifest if there existed some information flow between stakeholders and the organisations (Schultz et al., 2000). Figure 2.1 illustrates Stakeholder Theory, highlighting the customer/client as this is the stakeholder group this study is focusing on.
According to Scholes and Clutterbuck (1998), there must be a conscious effort to manage individual stakeholder groups in a cohesive manner by integrating messages to and from them. Jones (2001, cited in Dickenger et al., 2004:2), suggests that this two-way information flow between the customer and the organisation enhances service and feedback between these two parties. Similarly, Spaul (1997, see Rice and Katz, 2003) points out a concept of ‘corporate dialogue’, involving stakeholders being ‘allowed immediate access to a broad range of internally generated corporate information and more informal material’ which will invariably lead to a sense of ‘power to construct their own reports’. This could lead
by companies that stakeholder management activities are intended to “increase the value of the company by delivering more value to the stakeholders including customers and employees” and are therefore a core part of the overall corporate strategy (pg. 432). Corporate organisations especially those in the service industry are aware of this and make use of all available means of external communications, especially the media to reach out to their customers (Holmlund et al., 1996; Lai, 2004).
The advent of the World Wide Web and the internet at the end of the 20th century heralded the divide between traditional forms of media such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines and more modern forms of media that made extensive use of digital technologies. Through the latter, the term ‘new media’ as been used to categorize not only internet based communications but also mobile communications through cellular devices. This introduction has allowed for much more flexibility and direct communication through marketing (Yuang and Cheng, 2004).
The growing popularity of new media has changed the media and communications landscape as a whole (Roach, 2009). Previously, people were largely at the ‘receiving end’ of a one-way information flow from a minority of people who controlled the content. Now however, new media has provided a platform on which ‘receivers’ can now express themselves through websites, internet hosted videos and chatrooms, blogs, SMS, MMS and social media platforms (Bauer et al., 2005; Roach, 2009; Pastore, 2002). To some, the internet therefore becomes an attractive tool for ‘communication for the “voiceless,” furthering the rights of self-expression and cultural participation’ Livingston, 2004). Yet, other writers such as Mei et al. (2010) question the aura of greatness and positive hype that surrounded new media since it emerged. Although they concede that the internet has indeed created a platform for corporate firms to have ‘unlimited possibilities of connection with stakeholders and to further their agenda’ (pg. 143), they lay strong emphasis on the threat of new media to corporate organisations by highlighting the way new media has become a catalyst for crisis, and cite cases such as the ‘Taco Bell rats infestation incident in New York’ in February 2007 and the ‘Edison Chen sex scandal’ in Hong Kong in January 2008 as some examples (Mei et al., 2010: 146). The double edged nature of new media perhaps materializes once a single message- or content is disseminated into the public domain through a new media platform; many people then have access or the ability to edit such information in a vindictive manner that usually ends up in a crises (Tilley and Cokley, 2008; Mei et al. 2010). Nevertheless, the ease of content production has also made the internet and mobile phone telephony a more attractive alternative to other forms of media like television giving rise to interactive communication that generates feedback. Understanding customers is crucial for communicators and marketers because it provides a basis for competitive advantage amongst competitors within the same industry (Fill, 1999). Communication specialists therefore value interactive spheres where stakeholders can also provide feedback about their products or services (Cornelissen, 2008).
Mobile marketing is an emerging trend in marketing and is being aggressively integrated into marketing communications by businesses and organisations (Bernhart, 2009; Campbell, 2007 and Rice and Katz, 2003). The Mobile Marketing Association (2006, p. 22), defined mobile marketing as ‘the use of wireless media as an integrated content delivery and direct-response vehicle within a cross-media marketing communications program’. With an impressive growth in the penetration of mobile phones (Kumar, 2004), telecommunications specialists have been encouraged to develop compatible technology to increase the demand for it. According to Bauer et al. (2005), the subsequent development of SMS became a hit and surpassed the initial expectations. They reveal that, ‘In 2002, the total number of SMS messages sent globally totalled 670 billion and [was] expected to rise…’ (pg. 181). The use of SMS to reach out to customers is growing in scope and appeal, and for many reasons. One important reason is that consumers keep their mobile phones switched on and carry them every day, everywhere and all the time; it is therefore almost always within reach (Yuan and Cheng, 2004, as cited in Barutçu, 2008). Implicit herein is the assumption that users of this form of communications such as banking organisations need to identify the most appropriate delivery mode for each banking service in order to align the message and the mode of delivery to the recipient. Mobile media channels have various platforms through which individuals, groups and organisations like banks can interact with their stakeholders and these include Short Message service (SMS), mobile web and mobile client applications. Of these mobile channels, SMS is by far the most popular and widely used after regular voice call services (Mobile Marketing Association report, 2009). The Mobile Marketing Association highlights the fact that SMS is comparatively cheaper than other data services and highlights ease of use, affordability, popularity, real-time platform and non-network connection storage as its main advantages (2009: 2,3).
But perceptions on the general use of mobile telephony differ; whilst many draw attention to the mobile products- the devices in themselves, others propose that mobile telephony should be viewed as a service instead (Andersson and Molleryd, 1997). Pastore (2002, as cited in Lai, 2004) for example also extols the text messaging service by stating that, ‘SMS has become an integral part of people’s lives, with significant implications for communication and information transmission’. He goes beyond that to highlight one of the advantages of SMS as ‘facilitating communication for the hearing impaired’ (pg. 354). Interestingly, Katz and Aakhus (2002) expose the use of mobile telephony for more personal activities such as intimacy. A study by Roach (2009), also found that for many people, ‘receiving marketing communication to their mobile phone is more convenient, timely, useful and interactive than other [traditional communications] methods’ (pg. 134). It is obvious though, that one main disadvantage with SMS in communicating is that it implicitly means that the recipient of the information either owns a mobile phone or device or has access to one. Also, the 160-character limit can prevent detailed messages, therefore it has been suggested that SMS messages are combined with other forms of media. (Lot21, 2001).
Consumer Impact on Corporate Communications: Factors Promoting New Media in the Banking Industry
In order to fully understand demand for new media and mobile telephony in external communications in the banking sector, it is imperative to have a brief insight into changing customer trends and perceptions in the banking industry and how this has encouraged the use of new media in the sector.
Customer perceptions about banks have consistently been growing over the years. In their study about the importance of customer-perception in service quality in retail banking, Holmlund et al (1996) highlighted the importance of consumer perception of banks, by suggesting that while engaged with a bank, a customer’s perception of the bank is two-fold; the technical aspect and the functional aspect and it is with the latter that consumers reflect about ‘how a service is received, or social fit, systems, atmosphere and so on’ (pg. 293).
Jeffery Liew (1997) suggests that the changing perception of customers in the banking industry can be for three possible reasons, namely- Changes in market structure, social change and customer base expansion. A fourth view on corporate social responsibility (CSR) is also put forward by Liew (1997).
Changes In Market Structure
Economic policies in Europe and several other developing countries necessitated the call for deregulation which opened up an avenue for the emergence of banks (Urwitz, 1993; cited in Holmlund, 1996). This consequently increased competition among bankers and created a platform for aggressive marketing (Liew, 1997). Competition among corporate entities thus means that consumers have a wider choice of products and services at their disposal and thus transfers ‘power’ to the consumer. To exploit that power, bankers have had the need for reliable and effective means of communicating with their customers.
With technological advancement and more access to education now than in the past, consumers are now well informed and knowledgeable about products and services that enhance their daily lives. According to Basso and Hines (2007), from the 1960s, ‘advertisers began to concern themselves more and more with the power of consumers and their social actions as a way of dramatizing to clients the buying power of consumers’ (pg. 98). Changes in lifestyles and consumer tastes can also be seen in consumer preferences in how they spend, invest and save their income. Consumers also now demand more information about their banks’ operations and performance and expect better responsiveness from them (Liew, 1997; Basso and Hines, 2007).
Customer Base Expansion
Increased competition among banks has resulted in more attractive assessments for new customers, more easily accessible credit facilities and flexible payment terms amongst others, which has resulted in an influx of a newer class of customers- mainly younger ones (Liew, 1997). With the exception of good customer service, which inherently generates customer referrals, strategic internal and external communication by the banks is perhaps the only other means of disseminating information about banks to their stakeholders, leaving customers constantly flooded with information from these financial institutions.
Increasing Awareness and Interest in Corporate Social Responsibility
Another interesting viewpoint on the issue of using new media channels to maintain favourable perceptions of a bank is that corporate social responsibility (CSR) may actually promote this cause better (Liew, 1997). From this perspective, Branco and Rodrigues, (2006), expose social responsibility disclosure as a growing trend by Portuguese banks to their customer and stakeholders. Nevertheless, Liew (1997) emphasises that a customer’s perception of a bank is created from what that customer sees, directly or indirectly, and from all sources including the media. In a nutshell, Liew (1997) summarises that, ‘Corporate Communication is not just about marketing but a bank’s broad attention in the perception of the bank- its image- and how it is determined, managed and controlled’ (pg. 78).
Through communication with stakeholders, the performance of a firm may rise or fall and within a financial setting (Helenbergh and Scoubeau, 2005). They continue to emphasize the important role of interaction with stakeholders but show clearly that traditional forms of communication such as letter-writing are very much a standard in the financial world where for instance, the annual report ‘requires attractive presentation, quality paper, pictures [and] graphs’ and ‘the letter to the shareholder is written twice to four times a year’ (pg. 195). On the other hand however, writers such as Borgulya (2000) point out that in an era where external communication strategies have been evolving at a fast pace, ‘official letters were totally impersonal and remote’ and ‘old official, bureaucratic ways are being replaced by more friendly, personal and courteous styles’ (pg. 184).
The Growth of SMS Communications in the Banking Sector 银行部门的短消息通信的增长
Many third party organisations are now employed by banking organisations to provide technical assistance for sending messages, notifications and alerts to large numbers of customers and potential customers. Companies such as SMS Traffic based in Moscow, Accette Technologies based in Dubai are outsourced by banks to assist in corporate information dissemination from the banks to their customers and other stakeholders. Research has however shown that people are more likely to be influenced by mobile phone marketed messages if there have accepted this direct marketing method (Barnes and Scornavacca, 2004; Caroll et al., 2007, Bauer et al., 2005).
For businesses and smaller banks who may not have the capital to outsource such a service (mass SMS communications), putting in place such a service will pose some challenges- one being that, various skilled expertise is required for new media-based corporate communications, unlike corporate communications through traditional communications methods (Hearn et al., 2009). Again, they argue that the rapid change in the new media terrain over time means that such organisations will have to ensure that they keep up with changes and developments in both content and technology. It seems though, that despite such challenges, SMS communications has provided a platform for corporate marketing communications.
McCullough, Lim and Gan (1986) found in their study that, with banks that were ‘marketing-oriented’, their customers were found to be much more satisfied with their banks than customers of different banks. It does appear, however that there is little evidence of literature that shows whether for instance, their perception could have been influenced by the media used to communicate or simply the messages. In spite of this, Helenbergh and Scoubeau (2005) their research, reveal that the introduction of new technology appears to aid financial communication by having an influence on stakeholders, on various issues relating to the financial world.
On the organizational front, the advantages of e-marketing tools such as SMS are also attractive; reduction in communication costs and dissemination of information in a timely fashion and improved reach to target markets in physically-inaccessible or remote areas. (Sheth and Sharma, 2005; Roach, 2009; Branco and Rodrigues, 2006). Watson et al. (2002) and Sharma and Sheth (2005) among others bring to the fore the growing trend of providing personalized services that ‘add value above traditional networks’ through e-marketing avenues. This, they state has invaluable benefits to customers primarily as a result of three main advantages: The provision of ‘unlimited information to customers without human intervention’; the provision of information ‘in a form that customers can easily process and understand’ and most importantly the customization of information so that customers can receive personalized messages which are relevant to their needs and requirements (Sheth and Sharma, 2005: 612).
Against this background, there is a great opportunity for corporate organisations to engage with their customers through SMS (Ktoridou, Epaminonda and Kaufmann, 2008). Barutçu and other writers do concede in their writings about this subject area, that although this emerging area of marketing is catching up, ‘the nature and implications of this channel have yet to be fully understood’ (Barutçu, 2008; Bauer et al., 2005 and Becker, 2005).
Following a detailed review of literature on the above topic, a conceptual framework has been adopted from previous research findings by Dickinger et al. (2004) and will be used as the bases for the study and is presented as Fig. 2. This framework also draws on relevant literature on corporate communications by combining elements of the two-way Model of Communications (Cornelissen, 2007; Fill, 1999) and illustrates the constructs underlying the research questions of this study to give a diagrammatical representation of the research scope.
The conceptual framework attempts to show how banks communicate with their customers via the SMS medium only. Within that context, two (2) main categories of factors will influence the perception that the customers will have about the use of SMS to receive and respond to the messages (Dickinger et al, 2004). They are:
The formulation of the Message and Media Success Factors was a result of an exploratory study and previous research by Dickenger et al. (2004). Their study revealed that these seven (7) factors had some influence on consumer behaviour, consumer attention and cost ratios with regards to SMS and their analysis shed light on the views of ‘managers working with nascent forms of mobile marketing’ (pg. 8).
As the study was general, it was not directly related to SMS communications or marketing within particular sectors or markets. This may also be an allusion to the fact that there may not be adequate literature on consumer perceptions on the use of text messages to communicate externally the banking sector. Thus, the framework in puts the study within the context of the banking industry only in order to establish how the Message and Media Success Factors influence people’s perception of the use of SMS to convey corporate information.
It is important to note again here, that this study is limited to external banking communications via SMS rather than banking transactions via SMS which is usually termed SMS banking, mobile banking or phone banking.
Nevertheless, the power of new media cannot be underestimated in the financial world as it has emerged as one of the attractive approaches to external communications (Helenbergh and Scoubeau, 2005).