Understanding the different elements of the QCI model

By Priya Chetty & Shruti Thakur on April 1, 2019

The Quality Competitive Index (QCI) model is a type of customer management model. According to this model, a business needs to perform certain tasks that help in acquiring new customers and retain old customers (Starkey & Woodcock, 2002). The model is very different from other CRM models as it focuses on customer ‘management’ rather than relationship building. ‘Customer management’ means giving importance to impulse buyers.

They do not want a long-term association with the company but are nevertheless important for revenue generation (Woodcock, Edwards, Tonne, & Armstrong, 2009). The QCI model helps to review the current practices and create a quantitative approach to improve customer management process.

The QCI Model
Figure 2: The QCI Model

The model is made up of eight elements:

  • analysis and planning,
  • information technology,
  • proposition,
  • people and organization,
  • process management,
  • customer management activities,
  • customer experience and,
  • measurement of effect.

The core element of this model is its customer management activities, which include acquisition, penetration, and retention. The supporting elements are people and organization, while these are affected by customer experience and external environment (Grazdane, 2013).

Analysis and planning

The process of customer management starts with an analysis of customer behaviour and planning to develop the value of the company. The business can then plan to design customer management activities for engagement. The analysis and planning are based on the REAP of customer management activities, which is Retention, Efficiency, Acquisition, and penetration (Starkey & Woodcock, 2002).

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The ‘analysis and planning’ is the base of customers and their needs, leading to effective planning. The next element of the QCI model is coming up with the ‘proposition’. The proposition includes processes that can attract new customers, which depends upon the evaluation of the needs of the customers in the previous step. The segmentation of customer needs to form the base for different propositions. This further helps to derive enhanced customer experience and engagement strategies (Eko, 2014).

Information and technology (IT)

Information and technology is an enabler in managing customers as well as customer-related data. Technology helps deliver critical information related to the customers to the organization and vice-versa. Thus Information and Technology systems need to be updated constantly to effectively manage customers and people, as per the changing needs of both entities. This element includes important sub-processes such as:

  • sourcing customer information,
  • planning and analyzing information,
  • management of quality and review of technology systems for replacement and renewal (Grazdane, 2013).

People and organization

A business cannot manage customers without a robust team of customer relationship executives. As per the QCI model, the business needs to develop and maintain a responsible team for:

  • managing customer requests,
  • feedback,
  • queries and concerns.

Also, businesses need to establish a system for role identification, task segregation, and conduction of gap analysis for training (Ahmadi, Osmani, Ibrahim, & Nilashi, 2012).

Process management

Coordinating marketing, sales, and customer support are essential for customer management, as per the QCI model. According to this model, a consistent process which provides continuous management support to customers and identifies shortcomings is important. This is the importance of ‘process management’ element (Shukla & Pattnaik, 2019).

Customer management activity 

This element of the QCI model has three sub-categories of activities, governed by efficiency in all (Hollensen, 2010):

  • Acquisition: It includes targeting of customers and getting to know their needs for developing products/ services. The execution of this activity involves effectively putting across the business’s propositions after identifying the customers and their needs.
  • Penetration: This sub-activity includes understanding the customers through the collection of information, which can be then processed to understand how to best create a valuable customer base. The activities involve simple messages to welcome customers to the organization, provide an understanding of the business activities and helping customers connect with the business goals.
  • Retention: This can be done through value development, as well as through win-back strategy. This strategy serves as a retention process and an acquisition process.

Measuring the effect

This element involves the assessment of the process to ensure continuous improvement of the customer management process. The measurement also helps understand the level of performance of individuals and teams on their roles and creates benchmarking on customer management success (Srivastava, 2013).

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Customer experience

Addition of customer experience to the customer management mix provides an additional layer of measurement. It bridges gaps in customer perception and customer enhancement processes (Grazdane, 2013).

To provide a case example based on this study, one can visualize an organization which develops genetic testing kits for diagnosis of various cancer sub-types. As the genetic kit provides a one-time diagnosis of risk factors in an individual for cancer types, it does not seek to engage its customers on a long-term basis. The company can target a population that has a risk of cancer. The value proposition can be the insights of risk assessment before a diagnosis. The company can then develop its customer engagement strategies to acquire, penetrate and retain customers. The role of process management will be to align the diagnostic centre to the customer management centre.

The QCI model provides a detailed process of how to establish a connection with customers, cordially interact with them, and customer management. The model also accepts the role of external environment in impacting customer experience and provides an understanding of how to counteract any negative aspects by making sure the foundation of the CRM processes.


  • Ahmadi, H., Osmani, M., Ibrahim, O., & Nilashi, M. (2012). Customer relationship management model for UTM Alumni Liaison Unit. CRM History, 2(5).
  • Eko, K. (2014). The comparison of CRM model: A baseline to create Enterprise architecture for social CRM. In Proceedings of the First International Conference on Advanced Data and Information Engineering (DaEng-2013) (pp. 479–487). Singapore: Springer.
  • Grazdane, I. (2013). A Customer Relationship Management Approach for Optical Retail Business. Helsinki.
  • Hollensen, S. (2010). Marketing management: A relationship approach. Pearson Education.
  • Shukla, M. K., & Pattnaik, P. N. (2019). Managing Customer Relations in a Modern Business Environment: Towards an Ecosystem-Based Sustainable CRM Model. Journal of Relationship Marketing, 18(1), 17–33. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332667.2018.1534057.
  • Srivastava, M. (2013). Principles of Managing Customer Relationships. Pune.
  • Starkey, M., & Woodcock, N. (2002). CRM systems: Necessary, but not sufficient. REAP the benefits of customer management. Journal of Database Marketing & Customer Strategy Management, 9(3), 267–275. https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.jdm.3240008.
  • Woodcock, J., Edwards, P., Tonne, C., & Armstrong, B. (2009). Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: urban land transport. The Lancet, 374(9705), 1930–1943.

Priya is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Project Guru, a research and analytics firm based in Gurgaon. She is responsible for the human resource planning and operations functions. Her expertise in analytics has been used in a number of service-based industries like education and financial services.

Her foundational educational is from St. Xaviers High School (Mumbai). She also holds MBA degree in Marketing and Finance from the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, Delhi (2008).

Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:

  • Using systems thinking to improve sustainability in operations: A study carried out in Malaysia in partnership with Universiti Kuala Lumpur.
  • Assessing customer satisfaction with in-house doctors of Jiva Ayurveda (a project executed for the company)
  • Predicting the potential impact of green hydrogen microgirds (A project executed for the Government of South Africa)

She is a key contributor to the in-house research platform Knowledge Tank.

She currently holds over 300 citations from her contributions to the platform.

She has also been a guest speaker at various institutes such as JIMS (Delhi), BPIT (Delhi), and SVU (Tirupati).