Yelin Li; Thu Sang Nguyen Thi , pp. 49. MAM/Sektionen för Management, 2012.
In marketing, the common view is that customer relationships enhance innovativeness. Regularly it involves doing something new or different in response to market conditions. However, previous studies have not addressed how customer relationship management (CRM) plays its role in product innovation process.
This thesis proposes and tests how key CRM activities influence and relate to each stage in product innovation process. The objective of this study is to test how customer relations management activities influence four basic stages of product innovation process. Five practices of CRM is found in the literature (i.e., information sharing, customer involvement, long-term partnership, joint problem-solving and technology-based CRM). Furthermore, our literature review suggests four stages of innovation process (i.e., innovation initiation, input, thoroughput and output). The one-to-one relationship between CRM activities and innovation stages are established in four models. These associations are tested and some are verified in a survey-based study.
Specifically data from 83 respondents were collected. All respondents represent a strategic business unit and work closely with R&D, product development or marketing. Regression analysis is conducted to examine the impacts of CRM on innovation process. The statistical results indicate that not all CRM activities make contributions to each stage within innovation process. It is found that 1) information sharing effectively enhances both innovation throughput and innovation output. 2) Customer involvement and joint problem-solving exert positive influence on innovation throughput stage, while long-term partnership has significant effects on innovation output. 3) CRM activities have no impact on innovation initiation and input. 4) Technology-based CRM is the least effective mechanism during the innovation process.
The findings suggest the need for more research in this area and the statistical results provide corporate management with useful reference to align their CRM activities with a certain stage of innovation process.