Research History

At the opening workshop of the year's programme, members are asked for their input on issues that are of interest to them. These suggestions are collected and distilled into workshop themes and research topics. The resulting research projects for completed programmes are described below.


Research Projects 2018-19

The results of our research projects in 2018-19 will become publicly available during the course of the 2019-20 programme. The topics chosen are outlined below:-

  • Complaints – Measuring the ROI

    Service recovery and the way complaints are measured and handled was identified as a key theme by members to be researched this year. Consequently, we planned a comprehensive research project on the subject, involving an up-to-date review of the literature in this field, the role that technology and innovation has to play, as well as identifying areas of good practice in the way that complaints are managed.
  • Data Insight

    Another key research theme, which emerged as important to members during discussions is how to make the most out of data and making sense of what is being measured. Transforming insight into action was also identified as a key issue that ‘keeps people awake at night’ in our survey on current issues relating to customer management. This research project builds on an earlier report produced for members and focuses on trends over time in terms of ‘big data’, ascertaining common pitfalls to avoid, as well as identifying best practice recommendations that will have a practical impact on members’ organisations.
  • Best practice case studies

    Many of the issues captured from members included a request for applicable best practice case studies on issues pertaining to customer management. In other words what is it that can be learned from other organisations that can be implemented or replicated within a member’s organisation. Over the year, we investigated a series of best practice case studies that constitute a Best Practice report.

Research Projects 2017-18

The topics chosen are outlined below:-

  • Delivering Customer Experience through Third Parties

    This report will complete in the 2018-19 membership year and will collect together our research and thinking on the subject.
  • Tailoring Propositions for Fairness and Equality

    This report will complete in the 2018-19 membership year and will collect together our research and thinking on the subject.
  • The ‘Dark Side’ of Customer Relationships

    This paper – the first of a two-part paper - begins to explore the ‘dark’ side’ of customer relationships and its potential impact on organizations. We initially examine its definition, cite some relevant examples, identify the key determinants of customer misbehaviour and its links with societal and moral norms, and then explore ways of how such behaviours can be measured. We conclude by proposing some strategies for organizations to consider in dealing with what some describe as a prevalent issue.
  • The Sharing Economy

    This paper explores the concept of the sharing economy in terms of its emergence and how it is funded, how it has been defined and classified, existing and important trends, how it compares with traditional models, and what existing examples of sharing economy businesses look like. We also explore what the sharing economy poses (a threat or opportunity) to existing businesses, the challenges that the sharing economy sector faces, along with implication for business and how the sharing economy could look in the future.
  • Complaint Handling - Resolving Issues

    Resolver has close to 2 million users of its service. Using their data, this research report investigates issues raised with people using the Resolver platform in terms of the types of issue received, the most common companies cited (in Retail, Transport and Telecoms sectors), and the level of satisfaction and advocacy following on from a company’s handling of the issue concerned. Furthermore, we explore whether it is the duration of a case (number of days) or the number of interactions with a company (number of emails) that has the greatest influence on satisfaction and advocacy scores.
  • How Customer Centric are You?

    This paper focuses on customer-centricity; and whilst it provides an insight into what being customer-centric potentially means, it also goes some way to help organisations observe customer-centricity from their own perspective, by exploring areas of good practice and how such practice can have a positive impact on the future of their business. It draws on evidence from both communities in the last few years to help provide a greater understanding of customer-centricity and to move towards theory which is currently lacking.

Research Projects 2016-17

The topics chosen are outlined below:-

  • Customer Centricity

    This report will complete in the 2017-18 membership year and will collect together our research and thinking on the subject of customer centricity.
  • Trust is the New Black

    This report reviews key academic theories and businbess research to discover the concepts that underpin our understanding of trust, the factors that build trust and the outputs that emerge. In addition, it examinines a few of the high-profile failures in trust to help identify the range of areas where trust can be undermined.
  • Linking Customer experience to Business Performance

    This report reviews recent literature and presents case studies to illustrate the connection between customer experience and business performance.

Research Projects 2015-16

Topics researched in 2015 are outlined below:-

  • Personalisation

    Customer Journey Mapping is crucial for every modern marketer. Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is much more than defining a user experience. CJM is where you define the audience’s buying journey from their perspective and not your own. Doing so allows you to provide them with the content and communications they need to move along a personal, seamless and joined up journey that moves them ever closer to your commercial goal. This paper presents the approaches to CJM outlined at the workshop held on Sept 15th, 2016.
  • Social Media in the B2B context

    Our study identified examples of successful use of social media in small as well as multinational organisations, and in a variety of manufacturing and service contexts. The application most discussed in the literature reviewed was branding, followed by communications. There was also evidence of social media being used as part of the sales cycle, particularly in terms of lead generation. In addition, social media were deemed valuable in the areas of customer service and market intelligence.

Research Projects 2014

The topics researched in 2014 are outlined below:-

  • Customer and Employee Effort Measurement

    This report is yet to be finalised and will summarise our Customer effort research.
  • The B2B Customer Experience: What are the most important factors for SME customers

    This project extends the B2B research conducted in 2013 and seeks to discover what factors are most important for organisations dealing with SME customers.

Research Projects 2013

The topics researched in 2013 are outlined below:-

  • Employee Engagement

    Most companies, nowadays, have embraced the idea that businesses must focus on their customers. However, the question remains as to what practices need to be in place in order to build a customer-oriented organisation. The aim of our research in 2013, therefore, was to begin to examine such questions as:
    • What are the requisite organisational policies, practices, and procedures in the creation and delivery of superior customer experience?
    • How do these policies, practices, and procedures support service delivery? Do they contribute to employees’ engagement with work and with the organisation? Do they contribute to employees’ job satisfaction, turnover, and performance?
    • Do these policies, practices, and procedures contribute to the performance of the organisation?
    This paper gives a progress report on this research which will continue to be explored in 2014.
  • Measuring B2B Customer Satisfaction and Customer Effort

    This paper reviewed the available literature and previous research and then goes on to present the results from a series of exploratory interviews with a representative range of B2B companies and, where possible, some of their customers.
  • The Changing Nature of Segmentation

    This paper presents the findings from interviews with leading exponents of segmentation and also the insights from a recent study of marketing practitioners relating to their current imperatives and foci. More extensive views of some of these ‘leading lights’ have been sought and are included in order to showcase the latest developments and to help explain both the ongoing surge of segmentation and the issues under-pinning its practice.

Research Projects 2012

The topics researched in 2012 are outlined below:-

  • Customer Effort

    This project explores how companies can become easier to do business with by exploring and reducing the effort required for customers to interact with them.
  • Social Media

    This research project looked at three different aspects of social media and reports have been produced covering:
    • The Use of Social Media in a B2B Context
    • Influencing the Influencers
    • Social Spending: Investing in Social Media Marketing
  • Multi-Channel

    This research project conducted reviews of multi-channel best practice in both Europe and the USA. Two reports have been produced:
    • Multichannel Integration - looking at US based best practice
    • Multichannel In A Complex World - looking at European best practice
  • Corporate Reputation and Inter-firm partnerships

    This project looks at the issues involved in managing relationships and reputation in a global B2B environment.

Research Projects 2011

The topics researched in 2011 are outlined below:-

  • Collaborative Innovation

    This project explores how value can be created jointly for firms and their stakeholders through collaborative innovation and co-creation with these stakeholders.
  • Homeworking

    This research project develops an initial view of the important factors to consider when looking at a homeworking project. It provides examples of successful homeworking initiatives and seeks to identify both positive and negative factors from the perspective of the agent and to highlight differences between the US and the UK markets.
  • Social Segmentation

    This research project assesses the impact of online social networks on traditional market segmentation strategies and emerging new segments and practices.
  • Corporate Reputation and Inter-firm partnerships

    This project extends earlier research and looks at Best Practise in handling eWord of Mouth feedback from customers.

Research Projects 2010

The research projects this year fell into a number of areas as outlined below. These are in order of popularity (defined by the number of related issues discussed at the first workshop)

  • Developing a Social Media Strategy

    This research project will take advantage of some survey work currently in process and build a model for developing a social media strategy.
  • Implementing Strategic Partnerships

    This research project will build on last year’s outsourcing management research and is intended to develop a toolkit of guidelines etc to assist organisations in implementing arrangements.  Many of the lessons are relevant to other partnership approaches so will have wider implications beyond the pure outsourcing relationship.
  • Self-Service

    This research project will explore generational differences in the use of self-service and explore some of the factors that impact on the delivery of a great customer experience.
  • Sustainability

    We plan to revisit the research already reported on in the CSR report of 2008 and extend the research where appropriate to address the issues raised in the workshop.

Research Projects 2009

In 2009, our research programme included three major projects:-

  • Using social media to enhance competitiveness - Understand how organizations are using online social media tools, such as wikis, twitter, linkedin, blogs, and social networking sites, to enhance competitiveness. This research project aimed to help organisations to understand  the impact of such tools on their business and to explore the commercialisation of such tools to enhance business performance
  • CRM for ‘B2G’ organizations - Some members felt that most marketing models, concepts and frameworks are developed with commercial organisations in mind.  However, governmental organisations have very specific needs, processes (e.g., procurement) and gatekeepers that do not strictly fit the existing models.  Consequently, managers working in a ‘B2G’ environment have to try and contextualise such models to their working reality, themselves. This research was instigated to identify and summarise B2G- specific models and to assess how existing models have been adapted to the B2G reality
  • Best Practice in Managing Relationships with Outsource Partners - The goal of this research was to deliver an up-to-date literature review and provide case studies of 2-3 best practice organisations looking at how organisations measure value, measure success and provide the ability to flex the contract to both sides advantage

In addition:-

  • We continued to develop our research into the online customer experience
  • We collaborated with IESE in Madrid, Spain and RIT in Rochester,USA in a project sponsored by Cisco to explore the impact of social media on collaborative innovation - Understand how organizations are using online social media tools, such as wikis, blogs, and social networking sites, to connect with individuals and companies outside of traditional organizational boundaries in order to solve problems and create knowledge faster.

Research Projects 2008

In 2008, our research programme included four research projects falling into three areas:

  • Customer Experience and Corporate Social Responsibility - What are the linkages between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and CE? To what degree do CSR initiatives enhance a customer’s overall experience? How might CSR affect CE? If there is a positive relationship between CSR and CE, will customers actually pay more for the firm’s CSR efforts? Amongst the different factors a customer considers, how important are CSR etc issues and are they becoming more important? Are they different by product or type of customer, wealth base? Can we improve customer experience through the use of Co-Creation policies? This project delivered two reports:-
    • Corporate Social Responsibility: Key Issues and Linkages with Customer Experience - This report reviews current literature and presents the case for CSR making a positive conmtribution to customer experience.
    • Co-Creation and the Customer Experience presents a co-creation case study.
  • Delivering CE through Intermediaries - How can a company create and maintain a positive customer experience (CE) in the presence of intermediaries / distribution partners? This project delivered a review of the current literature and developed a framework and a set of questions to facilitate suppliers and intermediaries thinking through the various important issues that enable them to create a ‘positive customer experience’.
  • Online CE and communities – This project extended the work commenced in 2007 and looks further into what makes a perfect on-line customer experience. The next full report will be delivered in 2009 but an interim report entitled “Web Quality and Research Update” was produced to discuss some of the 2008 findings.

Research Projects 2007

In 2007, our research programme included three major projects:-

  • Online Customer Experience - Exploring perceptions of the perfect online customer experience through interviewing business-to-consumer and business-to-business customers about the nature of their perfect online customer experience.
  • Beyond Customer service - This project looked at a number of contributory factors for organizations that want to develop their inbound call centre staff to help them to cross-sell, up-sell and retain customers. The report focuses on five areas: business drivers, customer insight process, measures & outcomes, conditions and plans for the future.
  • Channel Migration – This project looked at best practice for encouraging customers to change their relationship from being a direct sales contact to using lower cost channels – the call centre or the internet. Interviews were conducted with organisations that have taken this approach in both the B2B and the B2C environment and the output used to develop best practice models. 

Research Projects 2006

In 2006, the research topics fell into three areas:

  • Customer Experience - A key research topic for 2006 focused on looking at the customer experience from the customer’s point of view, building on the research started in 2005. The key questions addressed by the research were:-
    • How do B2B and B2C customers perceive the customer experience?
    • What are the key ingredients/constructs for customer experience from a B2B and B2C perspective?
  • Customer Insight – The research project focused on the subject of “Turning Insight into Action” and considered the following:-
    • What types of customer insight are companies generating?
    • Which companies are actioning customer insight effectively and particularly at the front line?
    • What organizational and/or environmental context is enabling them to do this?
  • Culture and climate - Assessing an organisation’s climate considers the practices, procedures and rewards systems in an organisation, or in other words, “the way we do things around here”. The 2006 research built on prior years results and a number of organisations were assessed. The results were compared to exemplar best practice companies so that areas for improvement were identified and a number of new techniques for analysis of the results were introduced.

Research Projects 2005

In 2005,the research topics fell into four areas:

  • The Customer Experience - Managing the customer experience is becoming a major preoccupation for many organisations today. Recent research has shown that customers are becoming increasingly demanding and sophisticated. The increasing levels of marketing literate customers means that companies have to work harder to acquire, retain and develop long-term relationships with them. Of course the question is how can companies do this? The process starts with companies building more effective mechanisms to capture customer feedback and using this information to develop products and services and to understand how customers want to do business.
  • Customisation Through Data - Data is increasingly seen by many organisations as their key to competitive advantage. Without the right kind of information about customers, companies are running blind. However, not all data necessarily creates value. The hypothesis is that certain classes of data are better proxies for customer needs and predict behaviour better than other data. If this is indeed the case, then we can better inform the design of Customer Management processes at two levels a) what we collect and analyse and b) what we deliver to the contact point to assist in the customisation process.
  • Outsourcing theme - Outsourcing is also becoming a major topic of concern for both companies and customers alike and the decision of whether or not to outsource can have a major impact on a firms competitive standing.

Research Projects 2004

In 2004, the research topics fell into three clear areas within the overall context of ‘Maximising the Value of Customer Management Investment’:

  • Culture Change - Organisational culture and climate is increasingly becoming a top boardroom agenda item. Companies are recognising that their staff can really add value to customer relationships and as a result are jealously guarding their cultures and their relationships with their staff.
  • Customers - Most managers would agree with the view that customers have become more demanding and sophisticated in recent years. Customers often have quite precise expectations of the products, services and relationships they are seeking and have become bolder in making their requirements known.
  • Data - The lifeblood of any organisation is the information it keeps and generates about its customers, and the test of organisational longevity is how it then uses this data to inform the strategy making process. Unfortunately, all too often this data is either not available or is stored in many different locations/channels in the organisation. As a result companies frequently do not have ‘one view of the customer’. Having one view across multiple channels is essential to Customer Management success. It enables companies to look at all the customer touch points and to see how the relationship is developing in total and over time.

Research Projects 2003

In 2003, the focus was on answering member’s questions in the areas of:

  • CRM justification. To understand the complex mix of tangible and intangible factors that the most senior executives consider when approving CRM investment.
  • CRM organisation. To understand how companies manage the complex cross- functional teams that are often needed for CRM implementation.
  • CRM analytics. To develop a more effective approach to CRM analytics by combining statistical analytics with current best practice in market segmentation.

Research Projects 2002

The first task of the forum was to develop a working definition of CRM as follows:-

Customer Relationship Management is the management process that uses individual customer data to enable a tailored and mutually trusting, valuable proposition. In all but the smallest of organisations, CRM is characterised by the IT enabled integration of customer data from multiple sources.

In 2002, the forum completed a highly successful research programme centred on studies of CRM within sponsoring and exemplar organisations to answer the following questions:

  • Is CRM valuable to my organisation?
  • What form should my CRM process take?
  • How should I prepare my organisation for CRM?
  • How should I implement CRM?

The end result for members was a list of tools and pragmatic answers for their most pressing questions. Outputs for the first year of the research included:

  • The CRM Eco-system. How to know if CRM is right for your company.
  • The 5 sub-species of CRM. Which CRM process is appropriate to your company?
  • The CRM Space. How to identify and create the pre-requisites of CRM success in your company.
  • The CRM Implementation Manual. A systematic approach to auditing, designing and implementing CRM processes for your company.