Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1 – Introduction
1.1.1 Why this topic?.
1.1.2 Who will benefit?
1.2 Aims and Objectives
1.3 Brief Company Description
Chapter 2 – Literature Review
2.2 The theoretical foundations of Customer Relationship Management
2.3 Fundamentals of the event industry
2.4 The software selection process
2.6 Literature Matrix
2.6.1 CRM Part
2.6.2 Event Industry Part
2.6.3 Software Selection Part
Chapter 3 – Methodology
3.2 The research philosophy
3.3 The research strategy
3.4 Choice of research design
3.5 Construction of the chosen method
Chapter 4 – Theoretical Foundations of Customer Relationship Management
4.2 CRM as a management concept or marketing practice
4.2.1 Definition of Customer Relationship Management
4.2.2 The aim and objectives of CRM
4.3 CRM as a concept to gain customer loyalty
4.3.1 Definition of customer loyalty
4.3.2 Customer satisfaction
4.3.3 Interrelation between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty
4.4 The basics of CRM technology
4.5 The components of a CRM system
4.6 Benefits and problems associated with CRM
Chapter 5 – Fundamentals of the Event Industry
5.2 The event industry
5.3 The competitive environment
5.4 Importance of customer loyalty within the event agency
5.5 Customer orientation at the event agency
5.6 Actions and instruments to get loyal customers
Chapter 6 – The Selection Process of CRM software
6.2 Analysis of the current and forecast of the future situation
6.3 CRM software: Requirements analysis
6.4 Preselecting of CRM software
6.4.1 Type of software
6.4.2 The software market
6.5 Detailed evaluation
6.6 Choice of suitable CRM software
Chapter 7 – Recommendations
7.1.1 Summary of key findings
7.1.2 Evaluation of undertaken research in this topic
7.1.3 Achievement of aim and objectives
List of references
This study was undertaken to recommend a suitable customer relationship management (CRM) software for the German event agency XYZ. For this reason three different CRM software products were evaluated.
Four research objectives were established to achieve the aim. They were the principles of customer relationship management; the benefits and problems connected with the implementation of CRM; the importance of measures to get loyal customers and a comparison of different software products with regard to different criteria. Using the case study strategy including secondary research methods the researcher was able to answer the research objectives and the aim. The main sources used in this investigation were secondary sources due to the large number of information available in these sources. Prior the development of an assessment schematic was necessary to evaluate the credibility of these sources. Personal experience with CRM, the current importance of this topic and the gap in the event based literature motivated the researcher to undertake this study.
The findings indicated that the competitive environment in which small and medium enterprises operate make it necessary to implement a good working CRM system to identify potential customers who might become loyal. Indeed, a universal definition of terms such as CRM, customer satisfaction and loyalty is missing or the terms are not clearly defined. Findings also revealed that there is still a gap in literature concerning CRM within the event industry, especially within event management companies. The number of data concerning aspects such as competition and customer orientation regarding to event management companies is also rare or missing.
Beside these limitations, research indicates that the market of CRM software products is growing. Especially web based CRM solutions such as on-demand software have become more popular in the last few years, due to the mostly unproblematic implementation and the lower price of these products compared to traditional software packages.
The research concludes with a recommendation of SalesForce Professional Edition as the most suitable CRM software solution for XYZ. This product convinced by an extensive functionality, usability, user friendliness and customer support, the experience of the software vendor and the number of included features.
Recommendations for further research include a deeper analysis of CRM within the events industry and a clear definition of terms which are connected with CRM such as customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. More information on customer orientation, customer loyalty and competitiveness especially within event management companies would help to establish a more precise catalogue of software selection criteria.
List of Tables
Table 1 – Literature Matrix – CRM Part
Table 2 – Literature Matrix – Event Part
Table 3 – Literature Matrix – Software Selection Part
Table 4 – Sources used in this project
Table 5 – Assessment schematic
Table 6 – Inclusion criteria of authors used for this investigation
Table 7 – Overview about different CRM perspectives and concepts
Table 8 –Terms of customer loyalty
Table 9 – Types of CRM software
Table 10 – Components of a CRM system
Table 11 – Benefits and problems associated with CRM
Table 12 – Actions and instruments of customer loyalty
Table 13 – CRM situation overview of XYZ
Table 14 – Strengths and weaknesses of present situation
Table 15 – Catalogue of CRM software requirements
Table 16 – Advantages and disadvantages of different types of CRM software
Table 17 – Overview about selected CRM software
Table 18 – CRM software Grid Analysis
Table 19 – Overview about the characteristics SalesForce Professional Edition
Table 20 – Overview of main findings of the research
List of Figures
Figure 1 – Dissertation aim and objectives
Figure 2 – Case study research process
Figure 3 – Elements of CRM
Figure 4 – Aim and objectives of CRM
Figure 5 – Customer satisfaction process
Figure 6 – CRM implementation failures
Figure 7 – Components of the event industry including examples
Figure 8 – Factors of success to work more customers orientated
List of Abbreviations
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Chapter 1 - Introduction
In the new global economy, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has become a central issue for companies to build up and strengthen the relationships with its customers. Especially the growing event business depends on satisfied and loyal customers. Companies have to know their customers really well in order to develop a customer focused marketing strategy, improve service quality and to get them loyal.
The German event management company XYZ has been operating since 1996 in the event business. It is their mission to satisfy their customers in all ways in order to get them loyal to the company. XYZ is aware of the fact that methods managing customers have changed. Today the use of sophisticated software, a CRM system, is not only important to improve the relationships with customers but also necessary to survive within a highly competitive environment. The thesis is presented in order to select suitable CRM software for XYZ. In this introductory chapter the rational, aim and objectives of this study and a brief company description are presented.
1.1.1 Why this topic?
During an internship with XYZ it was recognized that it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the importance of a good working customer relationship management within the events business. Customers are the most important parts of an event management company and the source of future profit. However, handling customer relations successfully is not an easy task. Employees have to be trained regularly and the use of technology is necessary as well. XYZ knows about the importance of customer relationship management, but unfortunately the company does not really have a plan to manage the customer relations.
They already have contact management software but use it rarely. Marketing activities to get new customers are not up-to-date. To have a competitive advantage over their competitors XYZ has to know everything about its customers, their needs and requirements.
The event industry is a growing sector not only in Berlin and Potsdam. More and more event management companies come on the market to do their business and accordingly, competition is increasing. Therefore the aspect of loyal customers is an important point to be competitive nowadays. XYZ has to build up strong relationships with its customers in order to get them loyal to the company. The key word is customer satisfaction. XYZ has to do everything to satisfy its customers, for example by offering high-class service quality. It is the loyal customer who keeps a company in business and who can secure future profit. In former times it was more typical for big companies with more than one hundred employees to implement a proper CRM-system. Today it is essential for smaller companies as well.
Gap in the literature
Another aspect of choosing this topic is the gap in literature concerning customer relationship management within the event industry. Of course, there are a couple of publications about customer relationship management, but specific ones focusing on the event sector are rare. There is only little literature about customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. Especially literature dealing with CRM systems in the event sector is missing. As already mentioned, CRM is becoming more important in small and medium enterprises and the event industry is growing, thus CRM software is important for a company to be competitive and to strengthen the relationship with its customers.
1.1.2 Who will benefit?
XYZ, for which the case study is written, will benefit from it because this investigation is aimed at finding suitable CRM software for this event management company. By carefully reading this piece of work, XYZ might get a deeper understanding of a good working CRM and its benefits. This work is written to provide the company with information and resourceful tips to more effectively and successfully manage its relations with both customers and suppliers. By analyzing the current situation in terms of the use of CRM within the company, improvements in form of suitable CRM software will be provided.
Small and medium enterprises
Even though this dissertation is focusing on a single business only, also other businesses can benefit from this investigation. For example, subject areas such as customer loyalty, customer orientation or the investigation of the CRM software market can be interesting for other small enterprises in the event and tourism sector such as travel or incentive agencies. Especially for companies in the event sector the literature provides little information about CRM and CRM software within this business. By using the evaluation of current CRM software products, a list of suitable programmes for those companies will be provided.
This dissertation might be a good source of research for students who decide to write about customer relationship management and the process of selecting CRM software, because this investigation provides the reader a list of references, useful and up-to-date information about CRM. One of the major problems of CRM is the different perspectives about this term.
They were investigated and summarized in two most suitable definitions. Furthermore, the terms of customer loyalty and satisfaction were analyzed and a connection between both terms was established. Students could use the information from this dissertation as a starting point or theoretical framework for more in depth studies on topics such as the measurement of customer loyalty, satisfaction and orientation within small and medium enterprises. Further studies could deal in depth with the investigation and measurement of customer orientation satisfaction or loyalty within the event industry and tourism industry as well, such as travel agencies. To conclude, by using this dissertation researchers might save a lot of time to concentrate on other areas.
1.2 Aim and Objectives
The overall aim of this investigation is the recommendation of suitable Customer Relationship Management software to optimise the company`s relations with its customers. The analysis of the research objectives is important to come up with a clear result at the end of this dissertation. Four research objectives were defined for these investigations which are shown below in Figure 1.
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Dissertation aim and objectives (Source: Self-established)
1.3 Brief Company Description
This study focuses on the German event management agency XYZ, which is situated in Potsdam, Germany. The main operating areas of this company are the live and medial communication. The activities within the live communication cover events, promotion, incentives, catering, congresses and personal service. On the other hand, a team of graphic designers and media experts is responsible for producing covers printings, corporate publishing, DVDs, corporate design, digital media and advertising material which belongs to the medial communication (XYZ, 2005).
XYZ is operating regionally, nationally and from time to time internationally. Their most important and profitable customers are two pharmaceutical companies,. Furthermore, the company has a close relationship with a number of important regional companies such as Public Transport Association Berlin Brandenburg and a German credit bank. XYZ also helps small companies and private individuals plan their events and fulfil their needs.
XYZ has been operating since 1996 and was founded by two leaders in business. They are responsible for the business management and all business related operations. In addition, there are several project managers and accountants working in the team. Since 1996 XYZ has grown enormously, increasing their business knowledge, employees and customers (XYZ, 2005). In their first operating year the company consisted of three employees, today there are fourteen part- and full-time employees working in the company.
The company derives its name from “XYZ”, which means “giant spirit”. This is a synonym for a lot of energy which is what the employees have to put into their work to be successful. Working successfully is part of their mission statement (XYZ, 2005). To conclude, their customers and suppliers are the most important elements in the day-to-day business (XYZ, 2005). So an efficient customer- and business-tailored Customer Relationship Management software is essential.
Chapter 2 – Literature Review
The following chapter provides a clear overview of the literature which was used for this dissertation topic. The literature was evaluated and checked with the help of an assessment schematic which will be introduced in the methodology chapter. This review includes books, topic relevant websites and journals. Three different areas of research are relevant for this project. By putting all of them together they provide a deep analysis for this dissertation. The literature covers Customer Relationship Management (CRM), the event industry and the selection process of CRM software.
2.2 The Theoretical Foundation of Customer Relationship Management
A considerable amount of literature has been published on customer relationship management. Some authors (Buttle, 2004; Dibb et al., 2005 and Lovelock et al. 2007) mention the importance of a good working CRM. Buttle (2004) points out that ten years ago the concept of CRM was only interesting for big companies, but in the last few years more small and midsize enterprises have implemented CRM. Lancaster et al. (2004), Buttle (2004) and Baker (2007) mention that due to the increasing competition worldwide it has become necessary to implement CRM in order to have a competitive advantage.
Buttle (2004) emphasises the big misunderstandings concerning a clear definition of CRM. Dibb et al. (2005) for example, define CRM from marketing and IT perspectives. In turn Lovelock et al. (2007) see CRM as a part of customer loyalty programmes.
Beside the different concepts of CRM, Buttle (2004) includes CRM perspectives in one definition:
“CRM is the core business strategy that integrates internal processes and functions, and external networks to create and deliver value to targeted customers at a profit. It is grounded on high-quality customer data enabled by IT.”
(Buttle, 2004, p.34)
By having a clear definition of CRM the aim and objectives can be defined. According to Buttle (2004) and Dibb et al. (2005) the aim of CRM is to build up long-term profitable relationships with both, customers and suppliers. In this context Christopher et al. (2002) go more in depth and split the customers into influencers, users, buyers and decision-makers.
LeapThought (2008) a website which provides business documents for a number of different topics, deals with the practical implementation of CRM. To reach the above mentioned aim of CRM they suggest that different objectives such as the acquisition and optimisation of new customers have to be met by the company. However, one major criticism concerning this suggestion is that Leap Thought (2008) does not mention that a company first has to get to know its customers and the relationship.
Dibb et al. (2005, p.113) go into more depth and draw attention to the point of getting to know customers and defining the main objectives that CRM aims to achieve by saying:
“...the key objective of customer relationship management (CRM) is to use the principles of a learning relationship to develop a deep understanding of the customer.”
Lancaster et al. (2004) mention the importance of an implementation of CRM technology in order to get a better understanding of the customer. Christopher et al. (2002, p.16) go along with Lancaster et al. (2004) and go further pointing out the importance of the whole company including working processes and employees by saying:
“This requires a cross-functional integration of people, operations and marketing capabilities”.
All the mentioned writers define the objectives of CRM, but with different outcomes and statements. This might be a weakness, but by linking the different approaches it is possible to provide a good overview about the objectives of CRM.
As a part of CRM customer satisfaction and customer loyalty play an important role, Lovelock et al. (2007) deal with both terms and consider them to be the bases for long-term relationships which have to be acquired by the company. According to Lovelock et al. (2007, p.359) customer loyalty can be defined as:
“…a customer’s willingness to continue patronizing a firm over the long-term”.
Other authors have come up with their own definitions of customer loyalty, and these definitions reveal how opinions differ. Peppers et al. (2004) and Egan (2004) go along with Lovelock et al. (2007), but mention two different perspectives of customer loyalty. On the one hand, there are customers who are loyal in terms of their behaviour and on the other hand, there are customers who are attitudinally loyal (Peppers et al., 2004).
Besides these concepts and definitions of loyalty, Egan (2004) notes that factors such as market structure and geography can also influence the decision of a customer to become loyal to a company. Buttle (2004) and Peppers et al. (2004) argue that loyalty can only work when customers are satisfied. Lancaster et al. (2004) agree with both authors and add that a company has to offer high-class customer care to get satisfied customers.
Adcock et al. (2001) and Lancaster et al. (2004) identify the benefits of customer satisfaction for the company and argue that they can be different. Nevertheless both authors point out the cheapest one is the aspect of word-of-mouth recommendation from satisfied customers.
Egan (2004) criticises that companies think that satisfaction is the key point to get loyal customers, but they can also develop a loyalty to their business without satisfaction. Egan (2004, p.115) mentions an important point for this discussion, noting:
”Today customers have the freedom to decide and this is why customer satisfaction […] is not the key to securing customer loyalty.”
Grönroos (2007, p.8) says diplomatically:
“If a customer feels that there is something special and valuable in his contacts with a given firm, a relationship may develop.”
Different authors have dealt with the IT issue in CRM as a basic element of CRM (Buttle, 2004; Kotler et al., 2005; Dibb et al., 2005 and Celik, 2007).
They provide a clear overview about the technology`s possibilities in CRM and mention some benefits of this technology such as a better collection of customer data.
Greenberg (2004), Celik (2007) and Blokdijk (2008) explain different types of CRM software, which can be very cost-intensive, depending which type of software a company likes to use (McGrip, 2007).
Payne (2006) points out the importance of getting an understanding of the components of a CRM system before choosing the software product. According to Dyché (2002), Payne (2006) and Becher (2008) a CRM system consists of operational, analytical and collaborative CRM. Buttle (2004) also goes along with these authors but amends these three components by adding strategic CRM.
By using software or technology, companies tend to think that the system is working automatically. Many authors mention this fallacy and point out that everybody who is working with the system has to know how to use it properly (Peppers et al., 2004; Buttle, 2004 and Payne, 2006). Lancaster et al. (2004) and Lovelock et al. (2007) also mention this problem and hint at two further problems of CRM when speaking about the problem of high-costs within the purchase and implementation phase of a CRM system and the manipulation of customer data.
According to Zeithaml et al. (2006, p.183),
“…both parties in the customer-firm relationship can benefit from customer retention.”
This is why several authors divide the aspect of benefits into benefits for the customer and benefits for the company (Lancaster et al., 2004; Zeithaml et al., 2006 and Lovelock et al., 2007). Dibb et al. (2005) add another category when speaking directly about the benefits for the employees of a company.
In conclusion, it can be said that all authors write about CRM, but some write from a marketing perspective, some from a customer loyalty perspective and others from an IT perspective. By collecting all different information it is possible to get a deeper understanding of the concept of CRM.
2.3 Fundamentals of the Event Industry
During the past ten years more information about the event industry has become available. All the studies reviewed so far, however, suffered from the fact that there is a gap of the literature concerning aspects such as measures to get loyal customers within the event industry. Numerous authors (Bowdin et al., 2006; Tum et al., 2006 and Getz, 2007) specialising in event management, point out that one reason for this limitation is the complexity and diverse nature of the event industry. For this reason only a few books dealing with points such as customer orientation and customer loyalty within an event company were used. The other books deal with this topic in more general terms.
Bowdin et al. (2006) and Berridge (2007) mention the importance of the event industry and the increasing number of events organised in the last few years. According to Berridge (2007, p. 43) the key reason for the growth of this industry is the “…central importance of events”. Berridge (2007) and Bowdin et al. (2006) state this importance increased with the celebration of the new millennium.
An overview of the industry and its components is provided and explained in a number of studies (Mehdi, 2005; Bowdin et al., 2006; Tum et al., 2006 and Berridge, 2007)
However, most studies do not take into account a further explanation of event management companies. Only Mehdi (2005) and Bowdin et al. (2006) provide a closer look at components such as event agencies and mention issues and the responsibilities of those companies.
Mehdi (2005) and Bowdin et al. (2006) also present the aspects of competition and measures to be taken to create an effective collaboration with both suppliers and customers in order to build up long-term-relationships. The authors point out that relationships are necessary when working within a competitive environment, but they do not provide a deeper insight into this environment. This problem is also raised by Getz (2007) who says that precise data about competitors and competitiveness within this sector is missing, especially referring to the event organisation business.
Like in almost every other industry, also in the event industry customer loyalty is seen as a key success factor. Tum et al. (2006, p.34), an author of event industry based literature and specialist in customer loyalty, emphasises that without customers “…the organisation will cease to exist.” In recent years there has been an increasing amount of literature about the importance of customer loyalty in every business. One reason for this is the already mentioned increasing competition in almost every industry sector world-wide (Lovelock et al., 2007).
Difficulties arise, however, when companies have to come up with a plan to get loyal customers.
Referring to this problem, Tum et al. (2006) and other authors such as Peppers et al. (2004) and Lovelock et al. (2007) give advice for companies to create more loyal customers.
One limitation of the studies of Tum et al. (2006), Adcock et al. (2001), Schwenk (2006) and Lovelock et al. (2007) is that they are writing more in general terms about customer loyalty and not focusing on the event sector. Nevertheless especially Lovelock (2007), who is one of the pioneers of service marketing and his co-author Wirtz describe in detail the importance and benefits of loyal customers.
The piece of work by Adcock et al. (2001) might not be up-to-date but, this book is written in a very understandable style and to a certain extent, the author uses the same views on customer loyalty as Lovelock et al. (2007). In addition the authors provide UK-based case-studies on different topics to demonstrate how companies build up customer loyalty in real life. From a practical point of view, the Australian marketing agency Fa`toomsh, (2005) provides some documents about customer loyalty which is very important due to the mass of theoretical literature.
In the context of the importance and benefits of loyal customers for a company, Schwenk (2006) points out that a regular improvement of all measures and instruments to create loyal customers is important.
Different authors such as Brady et al. (2001), Weitz et al. (2002), Auh et al. (2006) and Getz (2007) write that customer loyalty starts with customer orientation.
All authors note that only a customer orientated business culture secures the success of a company. Brady et al. (2001) in particular write in depth about the importance of customer loyalty. However, due to the age of this work, the information in their analysis has to be proven by using up-to-date information, for example by using the work of Auh et al. (2006) and Bruhn et al. (2008). These authors mention that the customer is always right and that companies have to do everything possible to ensure their welfare. The German authors Bruhn et al. (2008) write about customer orientation and it is a good source to gather up-to-date concepts of customer orientation.
Real life information in the context of customer orientation is provided by the website Akdemie.de (2008). This independent knowledge pool provides six factors such as problem solving solutions and checking customer satisfaction which have to be considered by a company in order to become more customer orientated. Once again the key problem of this information is that it is written in general terms and does not focus on one business sector. A focused explanation would provide deeper and more business sector based check points, which are important to be considered within the event industry, for example.
Getz (2007, p.295) notes once again the gap in literature about the event sector concerning information about customer orientation:
“…different business models are available combining elements of organization, strategy, customer-orientation […], but not have been studied in the event sector.”
The German authors Link (2001) and Hofbauer et al. (2005) deal with actions and instruments of customer loyalty from a service sector point of view. They mention that companies have to take different actions to turn customers into loyal ones. Furthermore, they provide an overview of different measures which have to be adopted by a company. According to Link (2001) and Hofbauer et al. (2005) these measures have to deal with information, price, service, product and intern orientated actions. In addition, Büren (2001), somebody with many years` experience within the service sector, provides a list of possible instruments to develop loyalty to a company. It can be argued that Büren`s (2001) article is out-of-date, but the author mentions instruments and measures which are still relevant in today’s business to work customer orientated.
Authors specialised in event literature such as Tum et al. (2006), Bowdin et al. (2006) and Masterman et al. (2006) write about service measures and instruments. Bowdin et al. (2006) and Tum et al. (2006) emphasise the importance of service improvement in order to satisfy customers, however, the problem is that they mention that companies have to do something, but do not know how they have to do it. In turn Bruhn et al. (2008) clearly point out that companies have to provide customers with opportunities to interact within a project.
There are some authors dealing with other elements of customer orientation measures such as product, information, price and internal measures. Only Link (2001), Büren (2001) and Hofbauer et al. (2005) deal with these aspects in detail. Tum et al. (2006) and Mehdi (2005) have tried to work on the points mentioned above, but they did not provide a deep explanation.
Furthermore, the webpage of Customer Expression (2008), a provider for CRM software was used. They explain important aspects of approaches to product measures such as the regular improvement of products and services to meet customer expectations.
2.4 Software Selection Process
The last part of this literature review provides relevant literature and information concerning the software selection process.
Arens (2003) and Schnauffer et al. (2004) point out that the analysis of the current condition of a company is necessary before defining the requirements of a CRM system.
The points which have to be considered within this analysis are provided by the CRM software selection website Select CRM (2008).
The CRM Magazine columnist Goldenberg (2002) provides a requirement analysis referring to technical, business and user-friendly requirements. This book might be not up-to-date, but some aspects it deals with such as questions companies have to answer before selecting CRM vendors to keep up with the time.
In addition Adebanjo (2003), who works in the e-business division of the University of Liverpool Management School, focuses on the classification and selection of electronic CRM applications. Adebanjo (2003) points out that more companies are going to implement CRM software, but notes critically that most implementations fail. This failure rate is also mentioned by Buttle (2004) and Lovelock et al. (2007). This is why Adebanjo (2003) mentions important points such as financial and human aspects, which have to be considered before selecting software.
Besides the requirements analysis mentioned above, CRM Landmark (2008) notes that it is also important to select the type of software. In this context Schwetz Consulting (2007), Celik (2007) and Hubschneider et al. (2007) point out the popularity of web-based CRM solutions especially on-demand solution for small and medium enterprises.
Light (2003) and Hurwitz et al. (2006) also deal with the analysis of types of software but specialise on the analysis of traditional software packages. In their studies they point out different disadvantages in the context of those packages such as high costs and a difficult customisation.
An overview of the CRM software market is provided by different companies. For this dissertation different sources were used to narrow down the choice of CRM software vendors.
Buttle (2004) provides a good overview of the CRM marketplace, market structure, market development and software vendors. Buttle (2004, p.66) identifies different CRM software vendors which”… compete on differentiated value proposition.” This is why companies which like to implement CRM software have to choose a vendor who provides CRM solutions for the industry the company operates in such as the event industry (Buttle, 2004).
“Customer Relationship Management: Concept and Tools” written by Buttle (2004), who has a lot of practical and theoretical experience with CRM, is one of the best sources within CRM studies as is Phillip Kotler, who wrote a lot of books about marketing, and who recommends this book as “absolutely the best exposition of Customer Relationship Management” (Amazon.co.uk, 2008).
Two more sources for preselecting software vendors were CRM Landmark (2008) and CRM Today (2008). Both websites convince by providing an overview of the CRM software market categorised into software for small- and medium enterprises, including a ranking of the best software vendors.
One major drawback of both websites is that they do not mention the price and more detailed aspects of different CRM software products. This information is only available by registration on the websites.
The last two preselected sources are the two software searching websites Capterra (2008), a website based in the United States and Select CRM (2008) based in the Netherlands. By using these websites, the user has the possibility to find suitable CRM software for his/her business, by answering different questions such as required software features and estimated budget.
The website Select CRM (2008) is more clearly presented, structured and the user can go into more depth when searching for CRM software, but it is not possible to select the industry where the user is operating, which is an advantage of Capterra (2008). This is why both websites are useful.
After preselecting some software vendors, it is necessary to evaluate in detail the selected software. Mulebeke et al. (2006, p.340) go further and mention that software “…has to be able to satisfy basic evaluation criteria”.
Buttle (2004) and Hubschneider et al. (2007) provide important information which has to be considered within the evaluation process. It refers to different requirements of software such as business functional, costs and usability.
In conclusion, it is possible to say that for every research area different authors were identified, whereby some authors could be used for all areas of research and others only for one area. The main problem of this review, which was mentioned repeatedly, is the gap in suitable literature especially for the events part. There is a lot of literature available concerning aspects of events management and development of concepts, but literature regarding customer orientation and loyalty within events management companies is rare. This is why a further research in this area might be interesting for students, event managers or professional researchers.
2.6 Literature Review Matrix
2.6.1 The Theoretical Foundation of CRM
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Literature matrix – CRM Part (Source: Self-established)
2.6.2 The Event Industry
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Literature Matrix – Event Part (Source: Self-established)
2.6.3 Software Selection Process
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Literature Matrix – Software Selection Part (Source: Self-established)
Chapter 3 – Methodology
The following section will look at what research philosophy and strategy was used, how the research was undertaken and which research method will be used in this dissertation. After the analysis of different research methods, it was considered that the most adequate method for this project is the secondary research design. Why this is the most appropriate and how it will be utilised in this dissertation will be explained and justified in this chapter.
3.2 The Research Philosophy
The research philosophy for this dissertation is realism and positivism. For the researcher in the realist research philosophy, objects like “culture”, organization” and “corporate planning” still exist and these objects act quite independently from the observer (Grey, 2004). Nevertheless, it could be that there “…may be phenomena that cannot be observed but which exist none the less” (Grey, 2004, p.22). In that case, the writer has to accept these phenomena in order to focus on the aim of this project. The stance of the positivism researcher is that
“…there is a reality which is external from us that we can understand through empirical research”.
(Schutt, 2006, p.40)
According to Saunders et al. (2003, p.485) the positivist researcher is an objective analyst working with an “…observable social reality”. It is relevant to recognise the importance of working as an objective researcher and not to be biased towards something or someone.
Saunders et al. (2003, p.85) mention that realism shares some philosophical aspects with positivism. In both realism and positivism “…people are no objects which cannot be studied in the style of natural science”. In Customer Relationship Management (CRM) there is always a system or process, but this system would not work without the people who are going to control it (Buttle, 2004).
In contrast, the interpretivism view is more complex and attempts to understand in more depth the reality which is working behind a system or process (Saunders et al., 2003). However, this is not the aim of this project.
3.3 The Research Strategy
The case study strategy has been selected as the main strategy for this project. It will allow “… an investigation to retain the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real life events” such as the process of customer relationship management (Yin, 1994 – cited in Dahmen, 2004, p.7). Robson (2002 – cited in Saunders et al., 2003, p.93) agrees with Yin and states:
“The case study strategy involves an empirical investigation of particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context”.
This strategy is not just a data collection tactic, it is a “comprehensive research strategy” (Yin, 2003, p.14). By using the case study strategy, “…the focus is on a case” which includes three different steps which are presented in Figure 2 (Robson, 2002, p.178).
Case study research process (Source: adopted from Yin, 2003)
It is important that relevant data about CRM, the event industry and CRM-software is collected. In addition, it is important to develop a comprehensive understanding of CRM. This is why a wide range of information has to be gathered (Hine et al., 2007).
The collected information’ has to be analysed clearly in order to finally recommend reliable, stable and proper software for the company (Hine et al., 2007).
3.4 Choice of Research Design
The design of this dissertation is part of the methodology. It is not only a theoretical framework. It is the point where “…questions raised in theoretical […] debates are converted into feasible research projects” (Hakim, 2000, p.xi).
The design can also be seen as a plan. The author has to offer a clear and considered strategy to answer the research question (Saunders et al., 2003).
Data Collection Method
An important aspect of the case study strategy is the data collection method, the source of evidence. The data collection method can be applied differently.
According to the case study strategy there are six most common sources of evidence including documentations, archival records, interviews, observations and physical artefacts (Yin, 2003). In this investigation sources were documentations, archival records, direct and participant observation.
Documentations which include reports, studies and books were the basis of research. They contain a lot of information and precise details of names, positions and definitions. Documentations can be used to reflect reporting bias of the author (Yin, 2003). Archival records were used according to CRM software selling and market statistics. This type of archival record will be used in conjunction with textbooks, reports and scientific articles (Yin, 2003).
Two other sources which were used were direct and participant observation. These sources were used as a direct participant, to collect data in real time by watching people in action and observing the working process in context with CRM at the event agency. Grey (2004) mentions, this is a good technique to use when it is necessary to understand an ongoing process, unfolding situations or events. During an internship of six months and a part-time job, a lot of information was collected about the overall working process within the company. This was seen as a preferred way of gathering information and interviews were not necessary. A weakness of direct observation according to Yin (2003) is that it is time consuming and costly. This observation was made as part of an internship, so this would be reliable.
Yin (2003) and Saunders et al. (2003) say that a researcher could benefit from using multiple sources of evidence such as a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods and the use of primary and secondary data to strengthen the findings. When working out this project only secondary data was used including both quantitative and qualitative data.
As mentioned above, the secondary research method is the most appropriate one for this dissertation. Yin (2003) argues that the secondary data collection method is not credible and is a more independent way of conducting data research. It is a way of conducting research without a rigid formula, which gives a guideline for the inquiries (Yin, 2003). The aim of this dissertation is to find a CRM-software for a specific company. Saunders et al. (2003) mention:
“…secondary data can provide a useful source from which to answer your research question”.
Scientific articles of the Athens Database are important sources of knowledge for this topic. The Athens Database provides current and older articles about CRM. At the same time
“… it is always cheaper and quicker to answer a question through secondary data than through conducting your own primary research”.
(McQuarrie, 2005, p.34)
McGivern (2005) adds that the use of primary research is only necessary when there is no primary data existing prior to data collection process.
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- University of Birmingham – University College Birmingham
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