IT Evaluation Practices in Electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM)

IT Evaluation Practices in Electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM)

Chad Lin (Curtin University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch362
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Abstract

Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to scrutinize their bottom-line financial returns of business automation initiatives. To achieve this, organizations have to become more customer-centric. According to Karakostas, Karadaras and Papathanassiou (2005), a 5% increase in customer retention can result in an 18% reduction in operating costs. Therefore, the need to build and maintain customer relationship has become a priority for organizations. However, according to a KPMG survey, only a small percentage of companies were able to obtain even basic customer information despite the fact that 89% of companies consider customer information to be extremely important to the success of their business (McKeen and Smith, 2003). As a result, many organizations are adopting electronic customer relationship management (eCRM) applications in order to gather, organize, understand, anticipate, and respond to the constant evolution of customers’ requirements and demands. Indeed, eCRM is forecasted to become increasingly important as businesses seek to deliver their services and information as well as to provide transactional facilities via online and wireless platforms, in additional to the more traditional means of communication channels (e.g., call centers and customer service) (Tan, Yen and Fang, 2002). The market worldwide for eCRM applications is predicted to grow from US $3.4 billion in 2000 to US $10.5 billion in 2005 (EPS, 2001). Yet, despite the huge investment and widespread agreement that eCRM has direct and indirect impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, sales, and profit, it has been found that 70% of eCRM solutions that have been implemented by businesses fail (Feinberg, Kadam, Hokama and Kim, 2002). Moreover, studies carried out by Gartner, Forrester, AMR Research, and the Yankee Group claim that most of CRM implementations did not return the expected ROI (Foley, 2002). This is because management tends to be myopic when considering their IT (information technology) decisions, primarily because they are unable to evaluate (specifically the indirect benefits and costs) eCRM applications (Ernst and Young, 1999). To address this issue, this paper sets out to investigate the current evaluation practices by Australian organizations implementing eCRM. The other objective is to identify the key issues faced by managers to justify and measure their eCRM. Hopefully, the finding can help business organizations to better manage their eCRM investment and its contribution to improving their long term profitability.
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Introduction

Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the need to scrutinize their bottom-line financial returns of business automation initiatives. To achieve this, organizations have to become more customer-centric. According to Karakostas, Karadaras and Papathanassiou (2005), a 5% increase in customer retention can result in an 18% reduction in operating costs. Therefore, the need to build and maintain customer relationship has become a priority for organizations. However, according to a KPMG survey, only a small percentage of companies were able to obtain even basic customer information despite the fact that 89% of companies consider customer information to be extremely important to the success of their business (McKeen and Smith, 2003). As a result, many organizations are adopting electronic customer relationship management (eCRM) applications in order to gather, organize, understand, anticipate, and respond to the constant evolution of customers’ requirements and demands.

Indeed, eCRM is forecasted to become increasingly important as businesses seek to deliver their services and information as well as to provide transactional facilities via online and wireless platforms, in additional to the more traditional means of communication channels (e.g., call centers and customer service) (Tan, Yen and Fang, 2002). The market worldwide for eCRM applications is predicted to grow from US $3.4 billion in 2000 to US $10.5 billion in 2005 (EPS, 2001).

Yet, despite the huge investment and widespread agreement that eCRM has direct and indirect impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, sales, and profit, it has been found that 70% of eCRM solutions that have been implemented by businesses fail (Feinberg, Kadam, Hokama and Kim, 2002). Moreover, studies carried out by Gartner, Forrester, AMR Research, and the Yankee Group claim that most of CRM implementations did not return the expected ROI (Foley, 2002). This is because management tends to be myopic when considering their IT (information technology) decisions, primarily because they are unable to evaluate (specifically the indirect benefits and costs) eCRM applications (Ernst and Young, 1999).

To address this issue, this paper sets out to investigate the current evaluation practices by Australian organizations implementing eCRM. The other objective is to identify the key issues faced by managers to justify and measure their eCRM. Hopefully, the finding can help business organizations to better manage their eCRM investment and its contribution to improving their long term profitability.

Key Terms in this Chapter

CRM: Any initiative or process designed to assist an organization in optimizing interactions with customers via one or more touch points.

Benefits Realization: It is a managed and controlled process of making sure that expected business changes and benefits have been clearly defined, are measurable, and ultimately to ensure that the changes and benefits are actually achieved.

IT Investment Evaluation: This is the weighing up process to rationally assess the value of any acquisition of software or hardware which is expected to improve business value of an organization’s information systems.

Productivity Paradox: Despite large investments in IT over many years, there has been conflicting reports as to whether or not the IT benefits have actually occurred.

Analytical eCRM: It is concerned with the technology to process and analyze large amounts of customer data.

Collaborative eCRM: It is a business model that focuses on creating a real-time eCRM infrastructure to better support customer requirements.

Operational eCRM: It is concerned with the customer touch points such as automating sales force.

eCRM: It is the element of CRM that uses the Web to create a holistic approach to internal and external communication.

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