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1 Online Open Access publishing platform for Management Research Copyright 2010 All rights reserved Integrated Publishing association Research Article ISSN Study of CRM performance measurement in IT firms Pradeep Kootelu Sundar 1, Narasimha Murthy H.N 2, Yadapadithaya P.S 1 1- Department of Commerce, Mangalore University, Mangalore, India 2- Centre for Manufacturing Research and Technology Utilization, Bangalore, India ABSTRACT Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a company-wide business strategy designed to reduce costs and increase profitability by solidifying customer loyalty. Many firms have invested in people, processes and technology in order to absorb the CRM culture. There are huge expectations from CRM, but firms have had varying success. Organisations seek assistance over appalling performance and derailed relationships. IT firms are emerging significantly all over the world especially in South Asia. These companies operate in a very competitive market and there is a need to distinguish a service from the competitor for endurance. The effective use of CRM systems to improve service, performance, customer satisfaction and productivity is fundamental. In this paper we study three case studies on CRM in IT firms of India with regards to CRM performance measurement and identify associated challenges. The study also identifies the cause and effect of common practices concerning CRM implementation. Keywords: CRM implementation, performance measurement, case study investigation, key factors 1. Introduction Customer Relationship Management (CRM), as a strategic business tool helps marketing departments identify and target potential customers, manage campaigns and help set marketing goals by assisting the team to generate increased sales leads. It also enables better customer relationships ensuring that the highest level of service is provided to them. Lately, CRM strategies have become increasingly significant globally due to the changes in expectations from customers as well as changes in the nature of markets (Berndt et al., 2005). CRM today is readily accepted as a technological innovation which enhances customer satisfaction and organization's profitability (Petersen, 2004). When used correctly, it can improve a company's capability to attain the important purpose of retaining customers and gain a strategic advantage on competition (Nguyen et al., 2007). With rapid innovations in technology, CRM today has the ability to predict customer behavior, building value-added activities as well as brand images and adding value to customer support activities. The definitions and descriptions of CRM used in literature vary considerably, signifying a variety of viewpoints (Payne and Frow, 2005).There have been numerous conceptualisations in the past where CRM has been defined as a process (Srivastava et al., 1999), strategy (Davids, 1999), capability (Peppers et al., 1999), philosophy (Hasan, 2003), technological tool (Shoemaker, 2001). Everybody who profits from CRM have their own definition of what 420

2 it is (Greenberg, 2002). However it may be defined, businesses across the world have realized the value of an effective CRM strategy and implementation, and launched CRM initiatives with the primary aim of increasing profits. There have been researches that have offered evidence that CRM initiatives have benefited organisations. IBM (2004) conducted a study that showed that only about 15 per cent of North American executives are satisfied with their company's CRM efforts. Contrary to expectations, not every company has realized profits from their CRM initiatives. There also have been many instances where CRM has failed. These studies point to the fact that there exists a large research gap, which fails to substantiate the success or failure of CRM efforts undertaken by companies. A survey conducted by the Data Warehousing Institute (2001) reveals that 41 per cent of all CRM implementations were considered unsuccessful. Many authors have report that per cent of CRM projects failed to meet executive management expectations (Barnes, 2001; Dyche, 2002). Measuring the performance of CRM in organization can assist in developing success factor that can help build CRM implementation and process strategies by defining tangible objectives. In this article, we present a study of the literature pertaining to the measurement of CRM and using a case study research methodology, investigate the practices of measuring CRM in the IT companies and identify existing issues associated with it. 2. Review of Literature Measurements are means of clarifying, communicating, examining and validating business strategies and their accomplishments (Bourne et al., 2000). A factual measure of any business related activity is the degree to which it builds better value for an organization (Kumar, 2006). The process of quantifying the efficiency of precedent implemented activities can be termed as Performance Measurement (Neely, 1998). Long-term economic stability for an organization and value for shareholders come from the customers of that organization (Gronroos, 2003). In order to manage customers effectively, organizations are required to measure their CRM (Reinartz et al., 2004). A system to measure CRM can ensure the effective usage of customer data and review the strategies efficacy to drive the organisation closer to the set business goals. It will also help assess the performance of business functions within an organization (Ittner and Larcker, 2003). CRM measurements are mainly used to influence decision making, to review and guide current activities, and to forecast future situations (Bohling et al., 2006). They often lead to better understanding of past, present and future customer behavior and their interactions with the people, processes and technology. Measurement of relevant variables in different stages of CRM programs will allow organizations to effectively manage profitable relationships with customers for lifetime (Jain et al., 2007). Large number of CRM failures are due to lack of suitable CRM measurement methods, misleading metrics and highlighting the wrong measures (Ryals and Payne, 2001; Rigby et al., 2002; Zablah et al., 2004; Kraeuter et al., 2007). A wide variety of measurement method and metrics have been outlined by various researchers to measure CRM at different levels in an organization. Conventional financial measures such as Return on Investment (ROI), Return on Assets (ROA), Sales revenue, profitability, customer and market share and cash flows are normally used to assess the performance of CRM as they are best understood by all stakeholders within an organization since the measurement goals are unambiguous (Sheth and Parvatiyar, 1995; Heskett, 2002). But these methods are focused on time frames instead of customer groups (Stahl et al., 2003), assessments are mainly on short term returns (Kraeuter, 2007) and sometimes may report positive growth of the organization while giving false impression of the actual state of the customer relationship. (Jain et al., 2007; Nagar and Rajan, 2005; Maklan et al., 2005). 421

3 Various researchers agree that the traditional financial measurement tools such as Return on Investment (ROI), Return on Assets (ROA), Profitability, Transaction costs, Market Share, Customer acquisition cost, Profit and loss statements and even balance sheets used in the evaluation of CRM activities in a few organisations are not a satisfactory measure for CRM effectiveness (Kaplan and Norton, 1996; Stahl et al., 2003; Nagar and Rajan, 2005; Maklan et al., 2005; Jain et al., 2007). Reinecke and Reibstein (2002) opine that management of organizations largely depend on performance metrics such as revenue, net profit, market coverage, sales, share of new customers, sales profitability etc, which are quantitative in nature. There also has been an increase in inclusion of indicators such as customer acquisition & retention, customer satisfaction which are qualitative in nature. There is a widespread belief that traditional financial and market based parameters will continue to be vital but many organizations are measuring customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and other performance issues that are non-financial but eventually have an effect on profitability. Organizations that implemented non-financial measures and then built a fundamental link between measures and financial results, produced significantly higher returns on equity over a five year period than those that did not (Ittner and Larcker, 2003). A lot of importance is being given to building measures that are customer centric and gives the management a better view of the performance of their CRM system and programs. Some of these measures include customer acquisition cost, retention cost, repeat business rates, loyalty measures, and customer share (Winer, 2001). Buttle (2000) proposes a method comprising customer acquisition and retention costs, customer share and customers development targets. These metrics should be adopted for measuring CRM system together with conventional measures such as customer satisfaction measures and sales volume. Wang et al (2004) proposed a framework to measure the performance of CRM from two perspectives. Firstly, to evaluate aspects that are related to consumer behaviour such as cross selling and up selling, customer retention and customer acquisition rate. Secondly, they recommended a metrics system to evaluate relationship quality such as customer satisfaction. According to Izquierdo et al (2005), it is feasible to measure the effectiveness of CRM on the basis of the marketing and economic performance. Another method that has attracted a lot of attention recently is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) (Mulhern, 1999; Reinartz and Kumar, 2000). Some researchers recommended that by measuring the CLV, the effectiveness of CRM system on organisational performance can be evaluated (Stahl et al., 2003; Ryals, 2005). This CLV based measuring the effectiveness of CRM provide financial accountability. Another benefit associated with CLV is aligning the organisation to be customer-centricity, since focus is on both financial and non financial value of customers (Stahl et al., 2003). A framework under the tile of CRM scorecard was proposed by Kim and Kim (2009) for measuring the performance of CRM. This framework highlights the use of several dimensions of a CRM system to introduce CRM performance factors. They included customer, process, infrastructure and organizational performance as the perspectives for this framework. Wheatcroft (2007), while discussing the context for a governing strategy, suggests that the best method for achieving a holistic balance between strategy, control and performance is by the development of a scorecard and also goes on to state that the use of a balanced scorecard is effective for a CRM function to show its capability and effectiveness simultaneously and transparently. While the implementation of the balanced scorecard can provide an insight into 422

4 various operational aspects of any engagement, the precise objective of the balanced scorecard is linking corporate strategy to action. The Balanced Score Card (BSC) is a concept that was proposed by Kaplan and Norton (1996). The recognition of the balance scorecard as a performance measurement tool for marketing activities was highlighted in various studies (Neely, 1998; Nagar and Rajan, 2005; Kraeuter et al., 2007). The fundamental plan of the BSC is that organisation builds its measurements around identified key activities such that it incorporates a relationship between cause and effect variables. It identifies and measures organizational performance on key parameters related to (a) learning and growth perspective, (b) internal perspective (c) customer perspective, and (d) financial perspective (Kaplan and Norton, 1996). The generic framework of the BSC makes it flexible and has enabled many researchers to modify the BSC model and recommending enhancement of the method. Nagar and Rajan (2005) suggested a method called Process-based view of CRM which highlights the use of the reduce-form of the BSC concept to evaluate the bundling potentials of CRM system in order to identify cause and effect relationships. In another study, Kraeuter et al (2007) suggested the use of benchmarking and the BSC to emphasize the cause and effect relationship of a CRM system. Kim et al (2003) suggested a model for measuring the effectiveness of CRM using the BSC. They substituted the traditional four view point by other perspectives that reflect a customercentric approach in CRM measurement. The dimensions included in the model proposed by these authors are 1) Customer knowledge, 2) Customer interaction, 3) Customer value, and 4) Customer satisfaction. Customer Knowledge is the measure of the quality of customer data, Customer Interaction is the measure of the internal processes to engage customers, Customer Value is the measure of the monetary gains from customers and Customer Satisfaction is the measure of satisfaction level attained organisation's offerings. This framework covers the whole effective metrics on CRM performance, i.e. it covers the qualitative, operative and financial purpose of adopting a CRM. The objective of this paper is to investigate the practices of measuring the effectiveness of CRM in the IT service firms. Another objective is to find out the existing issues companies encounter during the measurement of their CRM performance and the cause. 3. Research Methodology A multiple design case study approach was adopted as it strengthens the results by replicating the pattern-matching, thus enhancing the rigor of the theory (Tellie, 1997). This approach allows the researcher to ask open-ended questions relating to what happened, why it happened and how things happened (Yin, 2009). The case studies illustrate how the effectiveness of CRM was measured at three Bangalore based IT service firm. Due to the confidential nature, the name of the companies have been changed to Company 1, Company 2 and Company 3. Data collection was by means of many formal and informal interviews with members of the sales and IT team personnel. The IT and Sales managers were targeted for the interviews. The interview approach facilitated to collect data that was rigid and rich in detail (Miles and Huberman, 1994). All the three companies provided IT services to global clients. They had onshore operations located globally to serve international customers. These three companies had already implemented CRM and were beneficiaries of certain tangible benefits. Companies belonging to three different segments in terms of their revenue size were selected i.e. Company 1 had 423

5 revenue between US$5-10 million, Company 2 having revenue over a billion US dollars and Company 3's revenue was in between US $ million. 4. Analysis and interpretation As per the framework proposed by Kim et al (2003), the four perspectives of CRM performance measurement were deployed for this study. Additionally, the Return on Investment (ROI) method was also evaluated in the three companies studied. Company 1: Return on Investment Calculation- This Company did not do a detailed calculation to measure the monetary returns on CRM investment since it is very difficult to determine the cause and effects of CRM activities and the inconsistent cost-value ratio of this calculation. They regarded business wins and customer share as adequate estimates for reviewing performance. Customer Knowledge- This Company scarcely measured the BSC perspective Customer Knowledge. But they are systematic in data collection and storage of customer information that enables the employees to study customer knowledge. However, when it comes to the systematic analysis of customer knowledge, there are quality issues with soft customer information. Customer Interaction- With their campaign management and sales management processes, the companies measure the response and conversion ratios. The top management also receives reports on the overall region and employee performance regularly. Customer Value- Company 1 only considers the returns on customer relationships and discounts costs although it is justified by the cost-value-ratio. Customers are classified according to their profitability and loyalty and are systematically migrated to more profitable segments through up- and cross-selling activities. Customer Satisfaction- Company 1 measures customer satisfaction frequently and systematically. These surveys and feed backs are usually collected by the software development team Manager. They have evidence to prove that they have improved their customer satisfaction as well as the willingness of the customers to recommend the organization, through their CRM based activities. Company 2: Return on Investment Calculation- Company 2 also did not do a detailed calculation to measure the monetary returns on CRM investment as their CRM strategy did not outline the cause and effects of CRM activities. Companies regard the identification of qualitative benefits as sufficient and estimate quantitative results accordingly. Customer Knowledge- Soft facts about customers are often incomplete or obsolete. Using obsolete data for analysis results in poor quality of the report that cannot be reliable. Data quality is a challenge for all CRM initiatives, there is hardly any performance measurement in this field. Customer Interaction- Company 2 defines campaigns as investments in customer relationships. It calculates the Net Present Value (NPV) of each campaign and then decides on the execution of the marketing activities. In addition to the Master Service Agreements (MSA), Service Level Agreements (SLA) are used to measure and manage performance. However, the measurement is more focused on measuring employees and business units performance than assessing the performance of CRM. Customer Value- Company 2 possesses sophisticated systems for data analysis. However, the value of customers is seldom measured. They consider only returns on customer relationships and ignore costs, and this is justified by the cost-value-ratio. Customer Satisfaction- Company 2 specifically evaluates customers satisfaction after having Project Management team contact them, in order to measure the overall quality and effect of software engineers and the new services offered. The company benchmarks its results against other Project teams within the same company and against similar companies in order to compare its performance achievements. 424

6 Company 3: Return on Investment Calculation- This Company did a detailed calculation to measure the monetary returns on CRM investment. The reason for this could be the narrow profit margin and cost saving strategy. Customer Knowledge- the process faces scarcity of the soft facts about customers since they started their operation in The information that is available is mostly incomplete thus hardly useful for automatic data analysis. Customer Interaction- With their campaign management and sales management processes, the companies measure the response and conversion rates. Similar to Company 1, the top management reviews reports on the performance of the overall region and individual sales personnel. Customer Value- They consider the return on customer relationships and calculate costs to see if it justifies the cost of sales or customer retention. The reason being the small revenue size and narrow profit margin. Since the company is a new entrant into the market, all cost expenditure are accountable. Customer Satisfaction- Similar to Company 2, Company 3 also evaluates customers satisfaction after having their Project team manager contact the customer to collected feedback on the overall quality of the service delivered. The analysis of the data from the three companies studied highlight some limitations and certain challenges faced in their practices of measuring the effectiveness of CRM. The Return on Investment (ROI) value of CRM is not measured by the companies which are monetarily sound. The basic reason for this seems to be the tedious process of determining the costs of the CRM project. Only company 3 did a detailed ROI analysis of their CRM project and this because it were accountable for each of their expenditure. The three companies interviewed had no framework or methods to measure their CRM performance measurement. They did not have a method to measure the benefits of CRM either. Two perspectives, Customer knowledge and Customer value are not sufficiently measured by all the three companies studied. All the personnel interviewed acknowledged that customer knowledge plays a vital role in CRM and the company's performance, but measuring customer data or customer knowledge was not included in their CRM strategy. Incorporating the cost of customer relationship, customer acquisition and retention is still a challenge for these firms as they did not have a method to keep track of expenses incurred for them. As a result, customer value was not measured. On the positive side, all the three companies measured customer satisfaction in a systematic way and were open for improvements and suggestions from customers. The results of the cross-case analysis shed light on the practices of measuring CRM. It also reveals certain existing challenges posed by companies for measuring their CRM performance. It is notable that no framework or specific CRM measurement methods are used by the companies studied. Also, some very important objectives of CRM implementation are ignored. This reflects the fact that, especially in the large companies interviewed, CRM is regarded as the responsibility of the IT department and not as an overall organizational strategy. This in turn affects the training programs that are provided to the employee or end-users regarding the CRM strategy and processes. Kellen (2002) proposes that companies need to build composite CRM measurement frameworks to get the optimal combination of measurement breadth, depth and tractability. In order to improve CRM measurements towards a generally accepted holistic measurement framework, a precise definition of CRM must be universally accepted. Measurements of high validity and reliability that take into consideration different contexts in which CRM may be employed towards the strategic management of valued customers must be achieved to attract a general acceptance of the measurement. These criterion and measurements should be universally acceptable and re-usable in different context by different people and still obtain the same results Until then, there are varied metrics available, so valid and reliable 425

7 measurement methods which meet the set objectives of a specific CRM strategy should be employed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of CRM performance. The study included only IT services companies and as such, the CRM measurement practices relating to other sectors undertakings were kept outside the purview. Furthermore, the central focus of the study will be on the CRM measurement practices of the case study companies. However, other organisation development interventions and peripheral aspects of CRM such as performance forecast are not included. The research conclusions drawn based on the findings of this research study cannot be generalised so as to make them applicable to other sectors or other nations of the world. Nevertheless, the present study throws sufficient light on the measurement of the effectiveness of CRM in IT services companies. 5. Conclusion Measuring the performance of a CRM system is a tedious task. This is mainly due to the fact that CRM has no definition that is universally accepted and it is hard to link the performance of an organisation to the activities of CRM. One of common business factors for adopting a CRM system is to aid the functions within organisations such as sales and marketing and their benefits are usually qualitative in nature thus making it difficult to calculate the financial measures. On the other hand, researchers argue that there is no universally accepted rigid CRM measurement method that can be used to asses that ongoing contribution of CRM in an organisation (Sin et al., 2005; Kraeuter et al., 2007). There are various suggestions and proposals as to how the activities of CRM can be measured, which makes it even more difficult for a universally accepted measurement method to materialize. The literature has a long list of CRM measurements frameworks proposed by numerous authors, which suggests that CRM can measured in a variety of ways. The responsibility of selecting the best measurement method is on the implementer of the CRM system to make sure that it aligns with the organisation s CRM strategy. Since this research was exploratory, it will be interesting for future research to use content analysis or cross case methodology to determine exactly how organisations measure their CRM effectiveness. Future research can focus on the development of a conceptual framework that could be universally accepted for measuring the performance of CRM. Another study could evaluate the various ways CRM effectiveness is measured taking into account different countries and culturally settings. 6. References 1. Barnes, J.G. (2001), Secret of Customer Relationship Management: It's All About How you make them feel? New York: McGraw-Hill. 2. Berger, P., and N.I. Nasr (1998), Customer lifetime value: marketing models and applications, Journal of Interactive Marketing, 12(1), pp Berndt A., Herbst, F., and Roux, L. (2005), Implementing a customer relationship management programme in an emerging market, Journal of Global Business and Technology, 1(2), pp Bohling, T., Bowman, D., Lavalle, S., Mittal, V., Narayandas, D., Ramani, G., and Varadarajan, R. (2006), CRM Implementation: Effectiveness Issues and Insights, Journal of Service Research, 9(2), pp

8 5. Bourne, M., Mills, J., Wilcox, M., Neely, A., and Platts, K. (2000), Designing, implementing and updating performance measurement systems, International Journal of Operationsand Production Management, 20(7), pp Buttle, F. (2000), The CRM value chain. teacher/filedl/sakchai pdf, accessed 20 November Davids, M. (1999), How to avoid the 10 biggest mistakes in CRM, The Journal of Business Strategy, 20(6), pp Dyche, J. (2002), The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management. New York: Addison Wesley. 9. Greenberg, P. (2002), CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and keeping customers in Internet real time, 2nd edition. Sydney: McGraw-Hill. 10. Gronroos, C. (2003), Taking a customer focus back into the boardroom: Can relationship marketing do it? Marketing Theory, 3(1), pp Hasan, M. (2003) Ensure success of CRM with a change in mindset. Marketing News, 37(8), pp Heskett, J.L. (2002), Beyond customer loyalty, Managing Service Quality, 12(6)), pp IBM (2004) Doing CRM right: What it takes to be successful with CRM. accessed 15 November Ittner, C.D., and Larcker, D.F. (2003), Coming up short on nonfinancial performance measurement, Harvard Business Review, 81(11), pp Izquierdo, C.C., Cillan, J.G., and Gutierrez, S.S. (2005), The impact of customer relationship marketing on the firm performance: A Spanish case, Journal of Services Marketing, 19(4), pp Jain, R., Jain, S., and Dhar, U. (2007), Curel : a Scale for Measuring Customer Relationship Management Effectiveness in Service Sector, Journal of Services Research, 7(1), pp Kaplan, R.S., and Norton, D.P. (1996) Linking the balanced scorecard to strategy, California Management review, 39(1), pp Kellen, V. (2002) CRM Measurement Frameworks. accessed 08 December Kim, H., and Kim, Y. (2009), A CRM performance measurement framework: Its development process and application, Industrial Marketing Management, 38(4), pp

9 20. Kim, J., Suh, E., and Hwang, H. (2003), A model for evaluating the effectiveness of CRM using the balanced scorecard, Journal of Interactive Marketing, 17(2), pp Kraeuter, G.S., Moedritscher, G., Waiguny, M., and Mussnigb, W. (2007), Performance Monitoring of CRM Initiatives, Proceedings of the 40th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. 22. Kumar, V. (2006), Profitable Relationships, Marketing Research, 18(3), pp Maklan, S., Knox, S., and Ryals, L. (2005), Using Real Options to Help Build the Business Case for CRM Investment, Long Range Planning, 38(4), pp Milles, M., and Huberman, M. (1994), Qualitative Data Analysis. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications. 25. Mulhern, F.J. (1999), Customer profitability analysis: measurement, concentration, and research directions, Journal of Interactive Marketing, 13(1), pp Nagar, V., and Rajan, M.V. (2005), Measuring Customer Relationships: The Case of the Retail Banking Industry, Management Science, 51(6), pp Neely, A. (1998), Measuring Business Performance: Why, What and How, London: Economist Books. 28. Nguyen, T.H., Sherif, J.S., and Newby, M. (2007), Strategies for successful CRM implementation, Information Management and Computer Security, 15(2), pp Payne, A., and Frow, P. (2005), A Strategic Framework for Customer Relationship Management, Journal of Marketing, 69(4), pp Peppers, D., Rogers, M., and Dorf, B. (1999), Is your company ready for one-to-one marketing?, Harvard Business Review, 77(1), pp Petersen, G.S. (2004), CRM, Success, and Best Practices: A Wake Up Call. accessed 12 December Reinartz, W., Krafft, M. and Hoyer, W. D. (2004), The Customer Relationship Management Process: Its Measurement and Impact on Performance, Journal of Marketing Research, 41(3), pp Reinartz, W.J., and V. Kumar (2000), On the profitability of long-life customers in a noncontractual setting: an empirical investigation and implications for marketing, Journal of Marketing, 64(4), pp Rigby, D.K., Reichheld, F.F., and Schefter, P. (2002), Avoid the Four Perils of CRM, Harvard business review, 80(2), pp

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