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The Role of Buyer Trust in Outsourced CRM: Its Influence on Organizational Learning and Performance

The Role of Buyer Trust in Outsourced CRM: Its Influence on Organizational Learning and Performance
Brockman B.K.Park J.E.Morgan R.M.
Ewha Authors
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing
1051-712XJCR Link
Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 201 - 219
business marketingcustomer relationship managementindustrial marketinginterfirm trustorganizational learningoutsourcing
Document Type
Purpose: Company outsourcing of customer relationship management (CRM) functions is increasing (Kalaignanam and Varadarajan 2012). Although outsourcing CRM may provide financial benefits, the tasks of developing and utilizing the complex, cross-functional processes needed to gain enhanced customer knowledge from CRM may be more difficult when some or all CRM activities are outsourced. Trust in the information provided by the outsourced CRM supplier is vital. In this study, the authors examine the influence of buyer trust in its outsourced CRM supplier on cross-functional learning processes and firm performance within the buyer firm. Methodology: Data were collected from a survey of marketing managers in 221 firms. LISREL 9.2 was used to assess convergent, discriminant, and nomologic validity using the two-step approach (Anderson and Gerbing 1988). Convergent and discriminant validity were evaluated in the measurement model phase, whereas the structural model provided an appraisal of nomologic validity. Findings: The results provide evidence of buyer firm trust in the outsourced CRM supplier playing a critical role in the buyer firm’s success with information sharing, and both trust and information sharing strongly influencing information interpretation and information access in the buyer firm. All three organizational learning processes positively influence buyer firm customer satisfaction/retention and market performance. Research implications: An important area for future research is the possibility of varying levels of trust needed for success with outsourced CRM depending on the buyer firm’s goals for its CRM system. It is possible that the simpler CRM functions could be outsourced effectively through efficiency strategies that do not require significant levels of trust, whereas the more complex CRM activities that affect organizational learning require more stringent coordination and inter-organizational development. Varadarajan’s (2009) cost versus quality classifications of outsourcing could be a useful starting point for this type of analysis. Considering the finding in this study that information sharing is critical for information interpretation and information access in the buyer firm, another area for future research is possible differences in the extent of information sharing required by firms that are outsourcing CRM versus those that conduct the CRM function in-house. One starting point could be possible differences in relevance among Maltz and Kohli’s (1996) factors affecting information dissemination. Practical implications: For effective use of CRM data, it is important for buyer firms to develop trust in their outsourced CRM supplier. Managers can assist in this by communicating qualifications of the outsourced CRM supplier, such as any trade-specific certifications, awards, information about the supplier’s number of years in business, and examples of other companies the supplier has assisted. Managers can also help employees develop confidence in the supplier’s integrity by sharing the supplier’s code of ethics and serving as a champion for the supplier. In addition, firms engaged in outsourced CRM are encouraged to develop reward systems that motivate employees to build relationships with their counterparts in the supplier firm, and it would be useful for the buyer firm to help its employees understand the importance of the CRM outsourcing relationship to the buyer firm’s success. Finally, it is important for management to provide opportunities for interaction between the outsourcing partner and key buyer firm employees who will use the CRM data, to encourage effective processes in information sharing, information interpretation, and information access. Contribution of the article: This article addresses the significance of outsourcing the CRM function and provides evidence that buyer trust in its CRM supplier is a critical factor in its utilization of CRM data for organizational learning and firm performance. It also demonstrates that effective sharing of information, cross-functional integration of customer data, and CRM information accessibility are critical for firm success. © 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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