Customer Knowledge Mangement and Social Media

Social Media Part 2 (+Customer Knowledge Management)

The second part of this social media blog deals with Customer Knowledge Management through two very different organizations: an academic library in Australia and Starbucks. What is Customer Knowledge Management? As mentioned in my Social Media Part 1 blog post, users are now seen as active participants rather than passive ones. Because of this, “their role is now more significant” (Chua and Banerjee, 2013, p. 239). hereticalpoetical acknowledged this and suggests that “the passive user is becoming a relic of the Web 1.0 era”. This would mean that as users have become more active users, organizations need to adjust accordingly and reevaluate traditional knowledge management systems. Organizations have always tried to focus on their customers but with the rise of social media and more active participants, there is a lot more knowledge that can be gathered at this point (or something along those lines).

Both Chua and Banerjee (2013) and Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) see Customer Knowledge in three different categories: Knowledge about Customers (KAC), Knowledge from Customers (KRC), and Knowledge for Customers (KFC) (KFC=KAC+KRC). Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) see KAC as what the customers motivations, information needs, and interests are (these are normally explicit but also include indirect and tacit knowledge because of the librarians interactions with patrons), KRC deals with their perception, insights, reactions, knowledge of other products which facilitates continuous improvement, and KFC is generated by KAC and KRC (p. 10). Chua and Banerjee (2013) see it a little simpler than that (well sort of): KFC is the knowledge flow from organizations to customers, KRC is knowledge flow from customers to organizations, and KAC is knowledge flow among customers (I guess it is not important to see knowledge flow between organizations) (p. 238).  The differences between the two articles perhaps are because they are two different kinds of organizations.

As mentioned, both articles see KFC as integrating KAC and KRC. For Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012), the methodology for doing that started with the ‘tacit’ (generally understood, taken for granted) component of the librarians’ knowledge. (p. 18). It is interesting to me that the articles written in the past few years seem to assume the readers are familiar with tacit and explicit knowledge enough that they don’t have to spell it out as much. While I may be over generalizing, is tacit and explicit knowledge something that have just become commonplace, at least in knowledge management and similar circles? It would make sense.

“The thrust of Customer Knowledge Management (CKM) is to capture, organize, share, transfer and control knowledge related to customers for organizational benefits” (Chua and Banerjee, 2013, 238). Basically, CKM deals with managing the knowledge of customers which I realize is fairly evident.  The biggest difference from the study of the academic library and starbucks is that starbucks deals more with the social media aspect of CKM.

So there are four emerging social media services that Starbucks has actively used for several years now. These are microblogging (MBS), social networking (SNS), Location-aware mobile services (LMC), and corporate discussion forum services (CDS). According to Chua and Banerjee (2013), social media brings a human side into knowledge management. Starbucks uses four main social media platforms to help CKM. These are Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and MyStarbuksIdea. They use all four to connect with users in different ways. “Starbucks deploys a wide range of social media tools for CKM that serve as effective branding and marketing instruments for the organizations” (Chua and Banerjee, 2013, p. 245). They also encourage users to be more active participants and promote engagement.

Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) didn’t focus on social media at all for their study on the academic library (they also only focused on the faculty) but I would be interested to see how social media could be utilized for the library and CKM at the library. Starbucks has managed to use social media to their advantage and is even more connected with their customers. I know libraries (both academic and public and others) are on social media. However, how well do they engage with their patrons? Could using social media for customer knowledge management like Starbucks does help engage their patrons and understand their needs better? I realize that the mission of libraries and Starbucks are different (Starbucks goal is more focused on money and getting customers to keep buying their products) but maybe libraries could take a lesson from Starbucks. Would it work though? On a different note, Daneshgar and Parirokh (2012) state that “one of the most effective uses of Customer Knowledge Management (CKM) systems is to provide timely and useful knowledge for the customers” (p. 21). I believe that CKM systems could be more beneficial for organizations today than traditional knowledge management systems.


Chua, A. Y. K., & Banerjee, S. (2013). Customer knowledge management via social media: The case of Starbucks. Journal of Knowledge Management, 17(2), 237-249.

Daneshgar, F., & Parirokh, M. (2012). An integrated customer knowledge management framework for academic libraries. The Library Quarterly, 82(1), 7-28.


3 thoughts on “Customer Knowledge Mangement and Social Media

  1. I believe it is, especially now. I feel like the most successful companies are those that engage with their customers and actively trying to understand what their customers are looking for. By involving customers in an organization, they become invested in the company. I know personally I prefer organizations that do.

    Liked by 2 people

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