Sample dissertation paper onThe implementation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and associated factors of UK based companies.
The implementation of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and associated factors of UK based companies.
Aim of the chapter
The aim of this chapter is to have an idea on what the CRM systems and how they are used in the UK. This chapter will also explore how the Vodafone Company implements the system and what benefits it gets from the use of the systems. The chapter will also highlight the limitations to the research on the implementation of the CRM system by the company.
The Customer relations management (CRM) comprises the processes used by a company in tracking and organizing contacts with its current customers and the prospective ones. There is CRM software which is used to enter and store information about customers and their interactions and these can be accessed by employees who are in different departments of the company. The goals of CRM are to improve the services which are provided to customers and to use their contact information for the targeted marketing.
Generally CRM refers to an approach which is software-based used in handling customer relationships but most vendors of CRM software stresses that it requires a holistic approach for CRM effort to be successful. CRM initiatives mostly fail because its implementation only focused on software installation, without giving out the context, understood and support so that the employees can learn and take advantage of the information systems. Implementation of CRM can be done without investing mostly in software although software is usually necessary to explore the benefits of CRM strategy.
Main reason to choose this subject area for research is to help and boon the organizations who wants to implement CRM systems, System Analyst, Technologist, IT consultants who are dealing with the system implementation and anybody who wants to gain knowledge of CRM system implementation for making decision at the right time, moderate the confusion of selecting the appropriate strategies for implementation success and to know the causes of CRM system implementation failure. The introduction of CRM system is a noble idea in an organization; however, introducing these CRM systems is likely to be faced with certain challenges both internal and external.
The choice to this study is therefore based on the fact that introducing CRM system is like introducing a change to the organization and thus numerous factors being affected. The selection of the topic is meant to create an awareness of the validity of the current available CRM systems (Dyche 2001, p. 90). This will help the system developers and software to identify the shortcoming with the existing ones, so that they can improve or formulate new CRM systems and application software that are much appealing to the clients in carrying out CRM functions.
Aims of the dissertation
To study and investigated how customer relation management systems are implemented in the UK companies. This study is targeted to finds out what are the primary systems available for the UK companies that would help them carry out the various functions in their operations. Through this the study will also establish the challenges that the organizations might face in the use of the various applications software at there disposal and then establish the gaps left which technology based companies have not filled for customers needs.
In this study, would like to discuss the problems makes organizations not to implement CRM systems. Additionally, the study aims at determining the way the implementation of CRM systems in an organization affect factors linked to employees’ well being recruitment and motivation; and how the organization structure determines the CRM systems need.
The main objectives for this study are:
Studying and learning the Strategic CRM system implementation.
Here the research will include the academic literature, enterprise publication different organizational data and information for CRM system implementation which has been published by the organization or specialists), CRM system implementation case studies and resources which will explore and explain the significance of strategic system implementation.
To investigate how CRM applications are developed in UK firms. A lots of facts and issues are in the system implementation and among them the major impact is higher rate of project failure and its impact the growth of the organization. The investigation will highlight the different organizational management issues like top level management co-operation in the system implementation and their knowledge and skill, their time schedule for system implementation and affect and accepting on their and employees work and organizational change environment etc.
To study the problem customers faces in implementing the CRM applications. It is mainly the customer’s satisfaction that are they accepting new system, is it too complicated to use and the organizational change is acceptable, are the new system is improve their satisfaction.
Critically analyzing and investigating the task, responsibilities and role of Information and Technological resources and people resources in system implementation project because these resources are critical for system implementation planning and success.
To establish the way organization structure affect the usage of CRM systems and applications.
Experimenting, testing and evaluating the hypothesis. Propose and designing the hypothesis based on the analyzed information and testing it for the expected result and calculating the risk.
To investigate how CRM systems are compatible with employees knowledge and skills.
To suggest and recommend ways of mitigating and solving the problems posed by the systems and applications.
Vodafone is a mobile network operated in Britain and its headquarters are situated in Newbury, Berkshire in UK. Vodafone is the largest mobile operator and communication network in world with a market value of more that $75 billion. The company operates in more than 25 countries in the world and has also partnered with other networks in more than 42 countries.
The company derived its name Vodafone from the Voice Data fone to reflect the major work of the company which is to deliver data and voice services of the mobile phones.
Vodafone is the second largest mobile telecom group in the world behind the China mobile with approximate of 303 million customers across the globe. The China mobile has more customers than the Vodafone but has less turnover and market capitalization than the Vodafone. Vodafone owns 45% of Verizon Wireless, the largest mobile operator in the United States based on the number of customers the company has.
Vodafone CRM overview
Despite of customers dealing with different company’s employees and different entities, they perceive the business as a single entity. In Vodafone, the CRM is a combination of different policies, strategies and processes that are used by the company to track the customers’ information and unify the customers’ interaction with the company. This is a new means and technology that is used to attract more customers that are more profitable to the business and on the other hand, it forms tighter bonds with the current customers.
There are different aspects in the CRM that relate to each other. These aspects include:
The front office operation (FOO) - These includes the meeting with customers face to face, on phone conversations, through emails and other online services.
Back office operation- the deals with activities that are linked to the front office. Primary activities that take place in back office operation that affects the customer most are the marketing, settling down payments and product development and production.
Business relationship- this category helps both the front and back offices in carrying out their duties smoothly with the outside environments. They deal with issues of company partner, distributors and other company network.
CRM analysis- analysis data of customer relation is important for the future plans in the marketing of the company or its products. This may give the marketing department an insight of success or failure of its activities. So, the analysis of CRM is process that helps the company to makes judgment of activities and set a blueprint for the future marketing campaigns.
Customer relation is a paramount activity in creating an environment that enhances the business growth and expansion both in the customer numbers and sales return. Despite the fact that customer relation is very vital tool in the company operation, most companies find it challenging in carrying out duties concerned with customer relations. Today’s business environment is very competitive, and this call for invention of techniques through which customer relation activities may be well coordinated to make the best close relationship with the customers. Through the several aspects concern with customer relations, most business can revive and have a large market share (Freeland 2002, p. 390). Companies may achieve through restructuring of the organizations or changing the method of operations. In either way, the main issue should be directed towards gaining the most from the available opportunity of untapped market and customers.
Each and every day, there are new industries which are coming into being each with different area of specialization. However, it is evident that the era of monopolies is long gone and business is becoming more competitive. This means that every organization must be in a position to align its resources to ensure that it harness available opportunities to rise up to the market competition. This has promoted adoption of various ways of going over competitors (Gronroos 2000, p. 200).
One of the most important factors that have been adopted by different organization is creating a positive image to their customers. Business management since the second half of twentieth century has recognized that a customer is the most important asset that the organization holds. Market place has changed drastically such that huge capital investment may be systematically brought down by lack of appeal to customers. Customers can determine the success or failure of the organization.
Customer relations do not only help the organization to rise above its competitors but it also helps the organization to create good relationship with its employees. Research has documented that an organization which takes care of the welfare of its employees is more likely to succeed that an organization that does not take care of the welfare of its employees (Kotler 2002, p. 39). Employee satisfaction creates a competitive edge for the organization which most organizations competing in the same line of business may find difficult to replicate (Gulycz et al., 2002, p. 37). Therefore, it is important that the organization lays its focus not only on its customers but also on employees.
It is evident that customer relations in most organizations are taken as a one man affair (Whittle 2003, p. 46). This implies that most organization entrust this noble role with customer relations department and in some organization public relations department. However, customer relations start right from within the organization before it goes to the outside environment. This means that organization must first train its entire staff on the basics of customer relations to ensure that they understand the importance of customer relations.
Traditionally, most firms have employed a number of strategies to attract new customers and retain the already existing ones. However, the various methods which have been invented in the past time had numerous shortcoming in the managing the entire customer relation systems. Therefore, the main challenge with customer relations management has been maintenance of comprehensive data systems that would permit proper coordination in communication between the customers and their affiliated companies.
As the customer management issues became much complex and sophisticated, technology has switched on to mitigate the problem of management (Ryals 2003, p. 112). This is has led to emerging of a number of systems and their accessories that has changed the traditional way of operation and management in many companies. Currently, there are numerous CRM systems which have been invented and developed to achieve various purposes within an organization.
The various CRM systems and accessories available for which a company can opt to adopt include the consumer relationship systems, collaborative systems, campaign management, sales intelligence and analytical CRM as well as operational CRM (Mangen and Thompson 2002, p. 19). The above systems form core areas through which companies can make an impact to the customers.
Managing customer relations
Customer relations do not only involve treating customers well while in the business premise or when in contact with staff but it goes deeper than that. Customer relations involve keeping constant communication with the clients to ensure that their concerns are well addressed (Moore 1999, p. 41). The first important thing in customer relations is to ensure that each and every customer is treated as equal since they have a part to play in the success of an organization (MacVittie 2003, p. 62).
Every customer counts in the success of an organization (Day and Hubbard, 2003, p. 23). This means that all customers should be treated in an equal manner to ensure that they feel as a part of the organization. For example, if we take an example of a shopping mall where customers pay through queuing method, there should no preference given to some customers while others are discriminated. Customers should be taken as stakeholders in the organization.
One of the most important factors in managing customer relations is to ensure that the organization attracts and retains customers. It is easy to acquire customers than it is to maintain them (Peppers and Rogers 2000, p. 73). The main reason being that customers usually evaluate after purchase of goods and services and therefore make post purchase decision which determine if they will come back to the organization or not (Porter 1998, p. 60). Therefore the main aim of any customer relations should be to ensure that the business is able to attract a constant flow of customers and at the same time maintain them. This is a difficult task to accomplish that does not only involve customer relations department but the whole organization.
Customer’s relations play a vital role in the success of a business organization. Since 1980s, there has been a great shift in organization management and organizations are paying more attention to their customers (Paul 2000, p. 60). The increase competition in the market has forced most organization to come up with effective ways to manage the relationship between the organization and their customers. Management remains one of the most vital ways to manage customer relations in any organization.
One of the most important roles of management is to ensure effective planning. Planning entails understanding where the business is currently, and where it wants to be in the future and thereby laying strong foundation to reach there (Levy and Powell 2000, p. 65). In laying down this plan, customers are important. The management must be in a position to forecast the number of customers they expect in the future and understand how these customers will play a crucial role in the growth of the organization to achieve set goals and objectives.
The initial planning phase is followed by another important function of directing the organization to achieve its set goals and objectives. Although literature has exposed directing as a mere relationship between organization staff and management, it goes deeper to include customers (Pine 1997, p. 248). Customers are part and parcel of the organization and therefore they also need to be motivated through effective services and consideration of their input to ensure that they contribute to the performance of the organization.
Therefore management is put in a better position to manage the operation of the organization. This position also puts management in a better position to determine the course that customer relations will take. Management should be in a position to involve all staff personnel in the organization to ensure effective staff management (Verhoef and Langerak 2002, p. 29). This ensures that customer relations are not taken as a one man duty but an obligation of each and every member in the organization.
Customer relations management to a company includes an array of activities. Companies are said to have effective customer relations management if they have efficiency in contacting both directly and indirectly with existing customers and prospective customers. Getting into contact with indirectly customers involves the liaising with people or groups of people/ companies referred to as call centers. Call centers are very much influential to business success as they offer opportunities of luring and connecting individual’s business to new customers.
This indicates that call centers forms a major part in customer relations management as without them, chance of expanding the company markets are diminished. Customer relations management thus aims at creating a seamless connection with potential people who can link potentials customers to the business. Moreover, the efforts that company deposits in customer relationships largely would aid the company maintain customers from exiting and joining the competitor companies. Customer leaving the company is far much detrimental in terms of company expansion (Guimaraes 2000, p. 120).
Development of CRM
Historically, businesses have always referred to customers as the prince of their business. However, this was used in words rather than in practical part, and therefore customers continued to suffer and bear the bad gestures from the businesses owners. Although royalty to customers for the past decades or centuries has been core in business operations, customers have suffered in the services delivery from their sellers in one way or the other (Paul, 1996, 52).
Until the last decade of the past century, many companies have rarely devoted themselves in serving the customers with dignity. Long customer queues that involved standing for long time and lack of concern in answering the customer question are some of the appalling behavior that composed the business environment (Dutta and Evrard 1999, p. 239). Perhaps the low level of technology together with other related factors had great contributions to this unsatisfying service delivery. Customers had to bear the callous condition on traveling long distances as well as the challenges of dissatisfying services due to uncompetitive business environment that prevailed.
In the last years of 1990s saw the birth of two concepts which transformed the business world. The technology invention on computer network and the abolishment of certain regulatory or the birth of the deregulatory concepts were two primary contributors that have translated the long theoretical saying of customer as a prince to reality (Edwards, 2007). The embracing of the modern internet technology and the adoption of the deregulatory idea were the forces that set platforms that made companies to take consumer needs and requirements with much consideration.
In cooperation of the two forces, numerous barriers to customer services enjoyment and satisfactions were eliminated or reduced by opening an environment of business competition (Bates et al., 2003, p. 16). The competitive environment has since then continued to be more intense with every day new ways intended to deliver the most unique customer services being brought to the customers’ disposal.
The on-line marketing and shopping is now the most robust way of reaching customers. This implies that the tradition methods which concentrated customer services in brick premises are no longer viable means in most parts of the worlds (Paul H 1997, p. 23). The adoption of the internet technology has now made customers to access their need at their comforts at home, which means those individuals still advocating to make customers princes by raising tower would compete well in the rising business competitive environment.
Through the advancement of the internet technology, information is no longer limited to customers instead this has exploded and is now seen by most of the clients as a nuisance. Actually, customers can access products and services, compares the features and prices of the commodities without limitations. During the inception of the internet and related services, many companies emphasized on the management of other factors other than customers that affected cash, revenue and profit margin (Cragg and Zinatelli 1995, p. 5).
This ideology was brought to an end by the development of the new technologies in the internet marketing and purchasing (Bligh and Douglas, 2004, p. 50). The invention of CRM applications were the initial stages that transformed many enterprises from the traditional focus and turned them to the customer needs. There was a big service reforms in many companies. These applications were seen to offer better support to the enterprises and then the customer services drastically improved.
The CRM application is a combination of a powerful suit of the high-end tools that will have business marketing, sales and the customer satisfaction. Using the CRM that is a user friendly solution, Vodafone is able to perform various duties of the business that are very crucial and helps in developing the company’s businesses. These functions include:
Storing of data securely
Improvement of the employees performances
Cutting the cost of doing business
Automation of key functions of the company
Coordinating the sale and marketing
And maximization of the customer satisfaction
The CRM software helps in maintaining the customer database without much effort. Through this software, the company is able to record individual customer preference and this enables in having a one on one services. On the other hand, this helps in promoting customers satisfaction and increase loyalty to the company. In turn, this helps in retention of the customer.
Feature-rich CRM software application
The On-premise CRM application are the CRM software meant for large companies that prefer an in-house solutions that are only meant to run on the company’s network. These help the businesses to purchase a product from the company with just one time payment (Gartner, Inc, 2008). Even though is one time payment software, it requires an extensive deployment, customizing software as well as maintenance and separate hardware.
Web-hosted CRM applications are the CRM that are meant for small and medium enterprises that are unable to buy the high cost in-house CRM software. The Web-hosted application is delivered via internet from the provider’s server without incurring expenses on maintenances, software and hardware. In compensation of these, the company pays a monthly fee to the provider to access the feature-rich solutions for their businesses needs (Arussy 2005, p. 151).
Improving customer Relations and improving business interactions through CRM application.
The CRM applications are equipped with interactive tools that help in managing and controlling the overall business needs through remote locations. The software is easy to use and helps in interacting with business function areas. The use of CRM applications helps in studying the market trends and also in identifying the potential market for the company which are very important in increasing the business ROI. Through this software on the other hand, the company is able to allocate work to different employees and other workers, manage its sales and marketing tactics, as well as receiving and obtaining feedbacks from the customers and other stake holders (Rigby et al., 2002, p. 76).
CRM on demand
The CRM on demand is managing the customer relationship through the web-hosted solutions that are easily accessed from anywhere in the world no matter the time. This suit helps the Vodafone Company to have a better integration with the business resources, management and sharing the activities depending on the need (Binggeli et al., 2002). The software also help in saving space and time, for instance, one can login and interact with members using the CRM on-demand that will automatically invite the selected member.
The on-demand is relatively low cost CRM solutions that are delivered on the internet. There is no software or hardware to run the system. There are several benefits that are received by the company through the use of CRM on demand.
The data can easily be accessed or stored in a secure database
It also help in managing the business on real time saving time and space
It helps in integration of business processes
Helps in accessing the up to date customer data which in turn helps in understanding individual preference
Its easy to customize and meet the business needs
This also helps in improving business marketing strategies and also improves the customer relationship.
The on-demand CRM have become a preference of small and medium enterprises in UK. This is because it’s easy to use and is also low priced compared to other management ways. They are designed to give the business an integration of business processes and resources in real time.
The open source CRM
The open source CRM means a high-end CRM application that was found on the principles of open source for development and production. The open source CRM is a new concept compared to others and most businesses in the UK and adopting the technology at a fast rate. The open source CRM is getting famous among the small and medium organizations because its regarded cheaper and fully integrated and is easy to use and manage all business customer relations (Child et al., 1995, p. 26). The Open source CRM is mostly hosted and is mostly developed by the company through the Open-source software license. Being free to access, the software gained popularity and on the other hand, they are developed to fit the individual business requirements. The software is easier to develop and can also be made according to the organization’s given specifications
Components of CRM and Implementation model (Chen and Popovich, 2003, page 676)
A number of reasons are commonly expended concerning the use of CRM systems, software and applications. In UK, most of the firms express adopting CRM systems and their related support tools (software and applications) for three main reasons which entail the customer service improvement, marketing and sales. Depending on the three areas, the companies aim at reducing the increasing high cost which is incurred through use of physical direct sales method.
The development of CRM systems in the UK has over the past few years been much rapid due to firms’ realization of the increasing costs on the employment of the direct sales techniques. Apart from this, the UK firms believe that CRM systems are means through which they can increase their global competition as most of the companies have gone to the global markets. This means that CRM applications and systems are in high demand for those companies which are operating in the foreign markets as means that may better monitors and keep the companies updated on the global markets developments.
Information and data very paramount for the success of businesses and this is mostly articulated with CRM systems acting as storage of database (Ebner et al., 2002). Information on sales, marketing activities and services that are offered to the customers are relevant information that is needed by the firms. This acts as reference systems that help the firms to develop marketing plans that are feasible by integrating the appropriate marketing mix.
Although there are several anticipated benefit that the firms believe and realize through implementation of CRM system, equally there are enormous disadvantages which are associated to the systems use. Large number of the UK firms lacks the marketing planning (Goff et al., 1998, p. 19). Marketing plan establishes the weak points of the company’s customer needs and needs right from the product development to the distributions that make the company to close links with clients. Consequently, the blurred planning systems form barriers to establishment of priorities of the organizations.
In most cases, UK companies have automated their system as a way simplifying complex processes. However, as mentioned earlier, companies in the UK are much varied and therefore each individual organization has different needs. Due to the uniqueness of the different businesses, development of universal application that can be used effectively and satisfied customers’ needs has yet not been developed. This means that most of the organizations have not been to acquires suitable software that support wide range of customer relation needs.
As result, most businesses are still grappling with development of robust technique that can be used in deciding critical customer related issues. Retail firms and medium companies are much affected by the low financial availability. Sale force automation software is among the most challenging and most the CRM systems are viewed as being unfriendly to the organizations (Andersen 2001, p. 110). As versions of applications and supporting software changes, this calls for the organizations to update their original. Generally, introduction of new software and applications requires both in-depth technical knowledge and skills that are necessary for the upgrading of the systems. Lack of adequate knowledge and skills thus form a great obstacle for most organizations.
The CRM implementation has several impacts on different business functions that include the sales, financials, IT and marketing. This would require the involvement of technology thus bringing in a conclusive decision in the process to enable a proper business function.
Most CRM project failures are associated with quality of the data and availability. For example, if the company employs CRM strategy in the tracking of the funds circulation in the company, tracking individual customer, it has to be reflected in the company’s business process.
Due to Vodafone being a large company with different departments that require the CRM implementations, a proper planning is very vital for a smooth roll out and running of the system. The planning will require a technical and the technology available in the system in use. This will help in determining the required efforts in the data integration.
The implementation will require a better understanding of the needs of the involved parties. Human support will also be as important especially when management and representing the project. The company always needs to have an effective tool that helps identifying the human as well as technical factors that will include preparing a checklist to help in identifying errors and problems at an early stage.
Importance of CRM
The CRM is a very important tool for the business today. More than 50% of the UK retailing businesses have at least implemented on CRM system on their business while more than 40% expects to apply the use of CRM in the near future. Most of the already using the CRM application got impressive results and they have got a positive results through the use of the system (Malthouse et al., 2005, p. 25). Its seen by most businesses as the use of the CRM as a way of propelling a business to higher heights. The CRM helps in understanding the customers better thus giving a way to provide satisfying services and attraction of more customers boosting the business profits. On the other hand, the company is able to keep the customers records, tract the marketing tactics and tracking the customers’ contacts (Calin 2003, p. 88; Becchetti and Trovato 2002, p. 19).
Web is one of the most important tools in the implementation of the CRM strategy. Its one of the best ways of gathering customers’ information, In most cases, this is done through asking for some information in order to get some discounts as well as receiving updates on unique sales or events. Email is often used as it’s the cheapest compared to other ways of notifying the customers on anything concerning the business.
The UK retailers showed higher interest in the CRM with the increase of the vendors. Every year, the retailers increase the expenditure on CRM compared to the past year (Bland, 2003, p. 38). In this regard, it’s evident that the CRM is growing and spreading among the business in the country. Initially, the CRM was only used by big companies even without knowing where they would be lead by the CRM project though they had believe that it would lead them into a better position.
The implementation of the CRM can be sometime daunting as it requires so many implementations in different parts of the business. The first thing is defining the aspired goals, though not easy, it helps in creating a road map to follow to avoid drifts after the implementation of the software.
Registering the site gives the company a unique stand
The research method is the way the data was collected, the purpose of this data and the strategy that was used.
The research process
According to Malhotra (1996 p 96) the research design is a structure by which the research is carried. It gives a road map to collect data and analyze the research study. The research design also gives the specifications of the data to be collected, where the data will be got from and the procedure that will be used to collect it. There are different ways to collect data depending on the field being researched on though they are all interrelated in one way or another. At the end of each research, there must be a problem to be addressed giving a way to find a collect solution.
The purpose of the research
The research can be used three purposes that include, explanatory, exploratory and descriptive.
The descriptive research occurs when there is a plenty of information within a given research area and the only needed thing is to study the current events that are occurring and describe them. The aim of this is to give a detailed literature of the problem and mostly seeks to answer as to why, when, what or where and how the event or a phenomenon occurred. It actually seeks to give more descriptive information concerning a person of an event in a certain situation. The accuracy is a necessity and very much recommended in this research as it would give a detailed information after exploration of the research problem.
The exploratory study seeks to find what is happening. The exploration seeks to give a better understanding as to what is happening or the research problem. The main advantage of this is that it accepts changes and can be changed at any time though it must have a direction.
The exploratory research seeks to establish the relationship between the valuables. The aim of this is to study the research problem and establish the relationship with other valuables. According to Zikmund(2000), the research must relate with the research problem.
The research philosophy which can also be interpreted as what one thinks on developing of his knowledge affects the overall methodology including the approach and the method of data collection. Understanding of research philosophy is helpful in clarifying the appropriate research design to be used and how it can be adjusted to fit the research that is being carried out.
The Research begins with an understanding of theories and models which fundamental to the researched problem. The access to relevant information helps the researcher in acquiring specific knowledge that is significant to the research. In the epistemological considerations, there are three philosophical approaches to research that include positivism, interpretivism and realism. On the other hand ontological assumptions constitute philosophical approaches objectivism and constructionism.
In epistemological assumption events are independent of anyone. This means that the truth about the events can be obtained through a scientific method or hypothetic-deductive method. On the other hand, Positivists argue that data can be collected by someone not included in the research or an observer. An interpretivist on the other hand emphasizes on understanding the human behavior and is regarded as complementary epistemology to positivists.
Positivists identify some valuables which have either direct or indirect relationship with the research for the research purpose. Constructivist’s approach is more suited in mass surveillance since they are inherently complex. This complexity is mostly witnessed in surveillance environment, where managing people and processes are complicated by the nature of research. In addition the relationship between the surveyor and the surveyed is mostly strained owing to the mentioned reasons. This means that a constructivist approach, in instances where the research cannot be detached from its original settings is better suited.
Constructivists’ ontology and epistemology differs from positivists, in the sense that the former emphases on the socially agreed understanding. The researcher does not contradict from the dominion of research, and the underlying epistemology, in views and understandings of the involved matter. The constructivists or interpretivists believe that data can be collected by the observers involving the actual researched setting. This involvement in the actual research setting is imperative in this research since data collected from the participants would largely be influenced by their feelings and perceptions.
To be better prepared for the situation, involvement of the researcher with the participants as well as the research setting is required. Understanding the subjective meanings to further explore what causes certain behavior or why people act in a certain way is based on constructivist approach or social constructivism. This is one of the most important and equally interesting facets of this research as understanding how the employees interpret the various work environment factors will result to interesting insights into the topic being researched.
Reality operates independent of human factors, and objects that are external to or independent of the individuals will affect the way they distinguish the world is the belief fundamental to realism. Thus we can see a similarity of practicality and positivism in the underlying ontological assumptions. Realism also advocates for understanding of the subjective reality, and socially constructed meanings.
Though research philosophies differ from each other, there is a need for the researchers to adopt a mixed approach. They need to have a great caution not to have contradicting results, as if he has used both the qualitative and quantitative methods.
Positivists’ approach isolate respondents from their social context for this research it is important to view the respondent’s as per their context, to have a better understanding of their perceptions. Complex structured design of the research mostly used by positivists restricts findings to a small extent. A possible weakness of the positivist model is that it is not very useful in understanding the processes or significance people attach to actions.
In this particular research, in order to understand the way CRM system are being used by the UK companies and what benefits they get through the use of them what concerned parties view this. In order to better understand and appreciate such factors requires a close association with the work environment, and witness the surveyors in their work place setting. Also, the social constructivists approach, and the complementary qualitative method are suitable in this research because of their ability to understand people’s meanings and adjust to new issues and understandings as they emerge.
Research ethics is an important part of research. Respect for other people, sincerity and academic veracity, makes a responsible research work. To consider the ethical responsibility of the research concerns only avoiding plagiarism and a bias free writing would only be a superficial one. Any researcher, who is committed to producing a morally responsible research, must address the issues of informed consent of the participants, confidentiality, and reciprocity.
Researcher is more sympathetic to the participants’ feelings in a qualitative research which means ethical issues are clearly addressed. An ethically responsible research must ensure that the respondents do not have to face any difficulties as a result of their participation in research. This is a crucial consideration in this research because of the sensitive nature of the research. Avoiding questions such as name of the respondent, their designation etc has assured the respondents that they would not be identified on the basis of the research. When researching a controversial or sensitive topic, anonymity is essential.
The research strategy
Research strategy is a general orientation of the research. This refers to the procedure that is followed in collecting data and analyzing the data. This procedure is also called research technique. There are three basic techniques that include the semi structured like conversations, individual interviews and focus groups. Fully structured techniques include structured interviews and structured questionnaires. Additional techniques include field experiment and observation.
A case study strategy mainly focuses on real life events, it is important because the goal of our study is to understand to the use of CRM systems in the UK companies. Also, case studies are less time consuming and provide an analytical study hence a case study approach has been adopted in this research. In this research we intend to study in order to understand the use of CRM systems in the UK companies.
Positivist approach assumes overlapping meanings with the term quantitative, while substitute terms for the interpretivist paradigm can be qualitative. This means that epistemological orientation in a quantitative research strategy has to be positivism, taking an ontological course of objectivism. On the other hand epistemological orientation in a qualitative approach has to be interpretivism, while ontological point of reference is usually constructionism.
Qualitative research is soft and subjective which means it tries to take into account individual’s understandings and feelings. Qualitative research is flexible, and based on the case study method. Qualitative research assumes a grounded theory, and involves investigative orientation. The deductive approach to research advocates an emphasis on scientific principles.
A deductive research starts with a hypothesis, which draws its basics from the researcher’s prior knowledge and understanding of the topic of study. The inductive approach emphasizes on understanding the socially constructed meanings with little need for generalization. Based on the research findings, the researcher tries to find the theory on which findings are based.
Qualitative research lacks reliability, but it provides an opportunity to get into contact with people involved in the study. This helps the researcher to have a better understanding of the findings. Reliability of a research is an important attribute of the research as it raises confidence in the study. This means that a research approach that combines the two approaches would provide an in depth and reliable study. Qualitative method gives the research the advantages of the method, as well as the advantage of triangulation.
Qualitative method is used for data collection in case study research method, though qualitative method will predominate. The process of data collection and analysis takes place at the same time. It is interesting in case study research method, particularization rather than generalisability is predominant
Reliability, validity of research
In any research, reliability, validity and replication are important considerations and these are as important as the choice of methodology. Consistency and purity of a measure are attributes of reliability and on the other hand repeatability or stability is also an important aspect of reliability. Reliability is given higher importance in any form of research. Credibility, dependability of data sources, consistency and impartiality comprise the quality attribute of a qualitative research. These four constructs are similar to the constructs reliability, replicability and validity which are measures of qualitative research.
If the participants of the research are affected by observation, reliability and validity are affected. That was why questionnaires and interviews do not in work settings but away from work settings.
It is difficult to achieve external reliability in qualitative research because the settings change, and hence it is difficult to replicate the entire study in the same setting as when researched previously. External validity is concerned with generalisability of the results beyond the research setting.
Validity of research is also very important, if the research is not valid, all effort that was taken in doing the research would be futile. Any research which is not reliable is not valid. Concurrent validity concerns the question of whether the responses are honest, and predictive validity is concerned with forecasting. Validity of research is the degree to which the findings accurately represent the reality. Validity also is concerned with the extent to which the findings are original. Face validity assess if the constructs used by the researcher actually represent what they should. A number of hypothetical constructs could be used in the research, and the extent to which the chosen construct is coherent with the findings is construct validity.
Qualitative research lends itself generalisability or external validity through use of numbers to represent the understandings based on the findings. Qualitative research lays much emphasis on understanding events according to the perspectives of the people being researched. Also understanding the context of the study is also important in qualitative research.
Case study method
Different types of case study methods are explanatory, descriptive, illustrative and experimental. The four stages in a case study method are finding out the current situation, collecting information about the background to the present situation, gathering more specific data to test alternative hypotheses, and about important factors in the present situation, and putting forward recommendations for remedial action
Case study method refers to an event in the real life context. In this research, such a method which gives importance to the context of the work place is suitable because of the topic being researched is thought to be influenced by the context of the setting. Various techniques such as pattern matching, explanation building, time series analysis etc could be used to analyse the case study evidence, but importantly, analysing the evidence obtained through case study method is the difficult aspect of case studies.
Analysis of data leads to information, from which inferences can be made, and recommendations can be arrived at. A high quality analysis uses all the analytic strategies exhaustively, addresses all rival interpretations, addresses the most important aspect of the case study, and the researcher displays use of own prior, expert knowledge. Case study method is useful only for generating hypotheses, not testing it.
Also case study method lacks statistical reliability, and generalisability. But since the world of business is complex, the research could be probably suitable only for the particular situation, and generalisability need not be a cause of concern. In this research, data will be predominantly the responses of the participants which is qualitative, and according to Patton, qualitative research produces large quantities of data to provide an in-depth study.
Triangulation is collecting data by employing two or more methods so as to avoid researcher bias and improve validity. Triangulation of data collection, provides with different ways of looking at the same phenomenon, and thus is helpful in consistent analysis of reliable data. Also, interestingly, if the different methods employed result in different data and should not be regarded as being inconsistent, but would interest the researcher to further delve deeper into the issue. Triangulation improves the quality of the results obtained. Triangulation also ensures that data is obtained through different sources, but does not assure validity or reliability of the data. Thus triangulation only provides a deeper understanding; it does not guarantee validity.
The accuracy as well as credibility of the research can be enhanced through triangulation of data sources and analytical perspectives. We have seen in our research that by using more than one method of data collection, we obtained a wider and deeper understanding of the issues.
The quality of a research is not only how reliable and valid the data and findings are, but also how useful the findings are in solving the problems of the organization. To increase the validity of case study method, four types of triangulation namely data triangulation, investigator triangulation, theory triangulation and methodological triangulation can be used. Data triangulation or collection of data using more than one technique such as interviews, observations etc can be employed. Due to various constraints, theory triangulation, investigator triangulation and methodological triangulation cannot be employed here.
Types of CRM
There are several types of CRM that has different software packages that focuses on different aspects. These include:
Sale Force Automation
The SFA is the most popular among them all.
The operational CRM is a CRM suit that supports the front office. These include the sales and marketing as well as the service staff. The customers’ information is generally stored in the customers’ history of contact to the company and this makes it easy for the staff to access the customer’s information if required without much struggle.
The stored contact history makes it possible for the staff to access the customers’ information and this enables in reaching the customer at the right time as it would be preferred and individually attend to him.
The analytical CRM analyses the customer’s data for a number of reasons that include:
Designing and execution of target market campaigns
Analyzing of customer behavior to enable the decision making in regard to product
Managing the information system
The system uses a heavy tactic to access data so as to make it possible to have a proper decision making. The more information the software access, the better as there would be better recommendation.
Sales intelligent CRM
The sales intelligent CRM has no much difference with analytical CRM but it is directly involved in sales tools. The software alerts the staff the information regarding,
The customer trends and
The performance of sales
In this analysis, we will have a comparison between the empirical data and the theories which are presented in the frame of reference and other support theories, which are all, derived from literature review. In the analysis we will follow the same structure as the research problem and the research questions. The analysis will begin with Lansforsakringar AB’s within case analysis, later we will look at HSB’s within case analysis and thereafter a cross-case analysis where there will be a comparison between the two cases so as to find out and examine the anomalies and the common patterns.
According to Goldenberg(2002)CRM is not only technological applications for service and sales, marketing, but also when successfully and fully implemented, a customer driven, cross functional ,technological integrated process of business management strategy that makes maximum use of relationships brings together the whole organization.
In this case, the concept began by shaping itself up after the year 2000 during which management decision that was conscientious came to rebuild the separate processes and systems that used operate in the company since they had proved not to be efficient in giving out a good overview of customers. There are different perceptions and definitions of CRM as it was also confirmed by a manager at Lansforsakringar when he was explaining that the company was operating with different ideas and activities which were oriented to providing a good understanding of customers but they had never thought of them as CRM until the component of technology came in place. According to the previous studies, the CRM does not have a satisfaction level which is high among managers and its projects tend not to succeed, but there is also some companies which have the opposite as described by Kotorov (2003, p. 568). One of those companies is Lansforsakringar where the manager started to get high satisfaction with CRM after its implementation.
How can a firm’s major benefits of implementation of CRM and reasons be described?
As it was mentioned before the benefits of CRM implementation have been summarized by Swift (2001, p 45) in terms of loyalty, profitability, customer satisfaction and cost reduction. He mentions for example the advantages of long term consumers, how the cost of recruiting customers has dropped and evaluating the profitability of customers. It was learnt at Lansforsakringar that the benefits concerning cost and improvement in profit were present where some of them were; sales volume improved, cost of production was lowered, the ability to up sell and cross and the categorization of customer potential and profitability. Lansforsakringar has experienced results in terms of satisfaction of customers as they say that customers claim to be satisfied more for they now receive improved and personalized attention and they can also now receive answers to their questions quickly since every agent has information and also the insurance premium rates are low.
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