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A Revised Model that Enhances CRM Operations for a Shipping Line Company: A Case Study.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is premised on the belief that developing a relationship with customers is the best way to get them to become loyal and that loyal customers are more profitable than non-loyal customers. Reichheld, Teal, and Smith (1996) have argued that a company can achieve significant increases in profits from only small improvements in customer retention rates. The strategy is to engineer increased customer retention, often with strategies labeled as CRM or Customer Loyalty Marketing. Research indicates that these schemes are generally liked by customers.

CRM systems has now been heavily invested in by organizations to better engage with customers, however, according to Kim and Kim (2009), CRM failure rates are over 70%. This is due to the wide scope of the application which creates resistance from the users to cope with the system.

A company using CRM has to take into consideration the following questions: is the product easy to use?; will staff resist implementation?; how much work will it take to deploy?; will staff ever embrace it, or will they use it grudgingly? To answer these questions, a customization was applied to the system so it can be effectively used.


Successful development, implementation, use and support of customer relationship management (CRM) systems can provide a significant advantage to the user. A study was applied on the end-user satisfaction of CRM systems in a logistics environment in order to know the areas that have shortages in the system.

But, often there were some barriers that obstruct the user from using the system to its full potential:

* Instances of CRM attempting to contain large groups of data, which makes it difficult to understand for an ill-trained user.

* Additionally, an interface that is difficult to navigate or understand can hinder the CRM's effectiveness, causing users to pick and choose which areas of the system to be used, while others may be pushed aside.

* This fragmented implementation can cause inherent challenges, as only certain parts of the system are used and the system is not fully functional.

* The increased use of customer relationship management software has also led to an industry-wide shift in evaluating the role of the developer in designing and maintaining its software.

An interview was conducted with the managing director of a logistics company and interview questions and answers were as follows:

1. What was the main driver that encouraged you to think of building a customized model? A huge investment was made in the CRM system and the return on investment (ROI) wasn't meeting our expectations, so we never felt any benefits from the system in comparison to the investment made.

2. What made you think that building a customized model would solve the current problem? A study will be made on the other systems operating in the company and users will be part of building the customized model in accordance with the management, which will probably help overcome problems in the old model. And also participation of users in the early stages will help overcome the double work problems that used to exist in the old model.

3. What is your complaint about the system compared to other systems operating in the company? The interface of the other systems was much more user friendly, and there were not so much data to be inserted, which consumes so much time from the team

4. What are your expectations from the customized model? The system should focus on monitoring sales work and activities by capturing a feedback from the visits they perform.

Responses for switching from the Old Model to the enhanced model were for the following reasons, according to the interviewee:

* A huge investment was made on the application and the ROI wasn't as expected, so the benefits of the system were not obvious.

* There was a usual rejection from the users to use the system, since there's an operational system that covers so many parts of the existing CRM system so users working on the system consider it double work.

* The interface of the enhanced system was much more user friendly, and there was not so much data to be inserted, which helped the users cope and accept the system.

* We need the system focus to be on mainly monitoring the sales work and activities, by capturing a feedback from the visits they perform

The paper will elaborate the structure of 2 models via screenshots from the two models, in order to compare;

1. The Old Model

2. The Enhanced Model

1 - The Old CRM Model

As is clear in figure 1, this process flow represents the old model implemented in a shipping line company to be used by the sales department. It is a full usage of all the functionalities of the CRM Telesales Module.

The process covers a wide range of data to be captured, as depicted in figure 1. Users start by defining the customer's basic details (names, addresses, phones, emails, websites) and the contact persons, with their relation to the company. Then, the sales person starts the cycle, by lead, opportunity, quote and then order.

The salesperson initiates the entry by defining a lead, which is an initial approach to the customer, whether by capturing the customer's information from the business cards or by approaching some customers from an exhibition with the aim of doing business.

A lead can probably be converted to an opportunity if the customer has interest in doing business with the company, and in this approach the customer will start asking questions and see how well we offer our services to decide which company to pick. That's why the approach has to be done precisely from our side as a service provider; to be able to capture the client's attention.

If the customer is interested in working with the company, the next step is a price list at the quotations tab, which is a reflection of the customer's interest after negotiations about the price.

The one final stage is placing an order for the required services/items the customer requests.

Below are screenshots for the old Model, and excess of data users were inserting, which was the main cause for switching to the enhanced model. It emphasizes/assures what has been said in the interview/questionnaire (presented below).

The above screenshot shows the multiple tabs, which the users had to fill in order to complete each customer cycle on the system. The cycle starts by filling the basic customer details and then the organization's tab below to give further details on the customer.

Then the next tab, the person tab, is where the user has to define the contact persons of the customer, which also requires keying in much information for each contact person.

Then, the address/phone tab, as shown in figure 4, is where the user captures the different addresses of the customers and the different contact methods, like the email, the website, the mobiles, etc.

Then, there's the "relation" tab where after defining the different contact persons, they then have to be given a relation to the customer, whether this person is a board member, a normal employee or a department head, for example. So, by that you can link a contact person with the company.

The sales cycle on the system, goes through 4 stages, it starts by lead, opportunity, quote, then order. Below, as shown in figure 6 through 9, are the details captured at each stage.

As depicted in figure 6, the lead is where every single trial with the customer, whether it was successful or failed, is captured. It also has to have a time frame; to be limited with a start date and end date until a sales person feels interest from the customer. Sometimes the cycle goes quickly with the client and we may know the type and the details of service requested from the very beginning. This can be captured at the product category, as clear in figure 6 (like: ocean freight or warehousing) and the inventory item (like: the service requested is shipping a container from point X to Point Y, the container type is 20'DC, the commodity shipped is spare parts).

Notice, the create opportunity tab. It's active once the user finishes inserting the lead details and saves the record. That the opportunity has to be created from a previous lead, as it takes same details we earlier inserted in the lead tab.

The opportunity stage is a mirror of the lead and all the data inserted in the lead automatically reflects in the opportunity tab. But in addition to what's called a sales stage, the selling process goes through 7 stages, and this depends on the company's strategy. Once the user moves through the 7 stages to the last one, the opportunity is closed to be converted to a quote as depicted in figure 8.

1. Prospect.

2. Set an appointment.

3. Qualify the prospect.

4. Make your presentation.

5. Address the prospect's objections.

6. Close the sale.

7. Ask for referral.

Figure 8 shows the quote details. It encloses the items requested with their description and total. The quoting stage is filled manually via excel sheets uploaded to the server, reflecting the items' description with their rates. It is updated each month or sometimes 3 months, since rates are changing during this period.

Finally, the last part of the cycle as depicted in figure 9 is the order screen, where the sales person follows up the customer's orders and creates a status update.

Wrapping-up the screenshots shown in figure 1 through 9, it is clear that there is a lot of data that has to be captured through the cycle each sales person follows when inserting customer's data.

2- The Enhanced CRM MODEL

The enhanced CRM Model was aimed at rebuilding the old model in such a way to overcome all the difficulties that the users of the old Model faced. By removing all the unneeded modules of the system, a fresh installation was made, then a customization was performed by a vendor, at the customer's site (the company using the system) to only include the following:

* Capturing the client's basic details.

* Monitoring the sales performance and the deliverables of each and every visit.

* A screen to capture the volume achieved by each customer, giving totals month by month, showing totals per year, so the clients' activities can be judged.

* A screen to capture the client's import and export countries with the volume figures achieved.

Below are screenshots; Figure 10 through 16 clearly show the difference in the enhanced model.

As depicted in figure 10, the cycle starts with same screen, the client's basic details and then the organization's details in the lower part of the screen to only include the type of freight, the type of client, the account holder from the sales team, the partner code which is a code used in the company that can be linked to other systems used inside the organization to have the same coding, the types of commodities the customer imports or exports and finally general remarks about the customer.

As shown in figure 11, users then go to the address/phone tab to capture further contact points, either other company addresses or more contact details (websites, phones, Emails).

The users then move on to planning their visits with the customers, which is clear in figure 12 below, under the tab "task," to what is known as the planned visits in the pipeline, which is also monitored by the "sales manager user," to be able to follow up his team.

The next step is that the sales person inserts his actual visits/calls with the customers. Also, every time a meeting is conducted with the customer, the system is immediately updated with this visit or the call with flexible free text space where the sales person can insert what has been discussed during this visit. It is also monitored by the sales manager. This is clear in figure 13 below, under the tab named "note."

Going to the side where the sales team and management have to evaluate the customer in terms of volume and interests, the screenshots below, as depicted in figure 14, show the volume captured by each customer on a monthly basis each year, showing totals of how much this customer achieved each year, which is good enough to categorize the customers in terms of volumes achieved either import or export per twenty equivalent unit (TEUs).

Furthermore, figures 15 and 16 show the further details acquainted with each company, not only capturing the volumes achieved from each customer, but, also, the region where the customer made the shipment, whether it is import or export, which indicates also which regions are experiencing the highest volumes, also the work from the non-working ports, consequently redistributing the sales force accordingly.


Proof of Model Success

The model presented used a SERVPERF questionnaire with a Likert scale from 1 - 7 to measure the performance of the system in the case study company. The questionnaire was applied on the original CRM system (the old model) and then another survey was distributed to the users of the enhanced CRM model (the new model) with the following results from 25 respondents. Figures 17 and 18 below shows the results of the survey conducted in the company, where figure 17 shows the results of the survey acquainted with the old model, and figure 18 shows the results of the survey acquainted with the enhanced model.

Figure 19 finally indicates a big shift in all the components of the SERVPERF questionnaire, which ensured the positive feedback from the respondents after the enhanced model was in place.

Table 1 below shows a clear comparison between the original and the enhanced model. This comparison is conducted from the findings and results from the two surveys.

Users found working on the new model much more user friendly, since it covers a big part of their daily operational work without having to capture lots of unneeded data on the system, which by the end of the day frustrates the users and makes them reject the system or drop some parts of it. It was also clear to the management that the data asked for in the old model was too precise and too straight for what they needed, which was to help them know the profitable from the non-profitable customer, as well as which customer gets less attention from the sales team, accordingly re-distributing the sales force to better achieve higher customer satisfaction. With the new model, it's clear to the management what the sales team achieves, since they're able to monitor the detailed visit feedback day-by-day, which can be easily extracted via the customized reports of the system.

The CRM old model was not satisfactory for a typical shipping line company. By customizing the application to match the needs of the users, after testing the new model and after reporting from the system, it's highly recommended to implement this enhanced model in shipping line companies. And also, for companies using CRM applications in general, it is a great benefit taking this model into consideration and applying it to the existing CRM solutions, to avoid common failures of CRM.


Kim, H. S., & Kim, Y. G. (2009). A CRM performance measurement framework: Its development process and application. Industrial Marketing Management, 38(4), 477-489.

Kim, H., & Kankanhalli, A. (2009). Investigating user resistance to information systems implementation: A status quo bias perspective. MIS Quarterly, 33(3), 567-582.

Reichheld, F. F., Teal, T., & Smith, D. K. (1996). The loyalty effect (Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 78-84). Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Sayed M. ElSayed Elkhouly, Ain Shams University

Nada Ahmed Mohsen Elkhouly, Ain Shams University
Table 1

            Original Model             Enhanced Model

Data Entry  Too many unneeded screens  Covers the needs of the end-users
            to be filled               and top management requirements
Interface   Too complicated            Too easy to navigate
Follow-up   Hard to monitor the sales  Easier monitoring of the sales
            team, due to incomplete    team
            data entry; consequently
            vague reports
Coupling    High coupling              Low Coupling
Return on   Low                        High
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Article Details
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Author:Elkhouly, Sayed M. ElSayed; Elkhouly, Nada Ahmed Mohsen
Publication:Competition Forum
Article Type:Case study
Date:Jul 1, 2018
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