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African Journal of Business Management Vol. 5(15), pp.

6515-6526, 4 August, 2011

Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/AJBM
DOI: 10.5897/AJBM11.605
ISSN 1993-8233 2011 Academic Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Comparison of customer relationship management

systems perceptions among container shipping
companies in Vietnam and Taiwan
Yi-Chih Yang* and Hoang Hai Nguyen
Department of Shipping and Transportation Management, National Kaohsiung Marine University, No. 142, Haijhuan
Road, Nanzih District, Kaohsiung City, 81143, Taiwan.
Accepted 28 April, 2011

The goal of this study is to compare perceptions of customer relationship management (CRM) among
Vietnamese and Taiwanese maritime transport service providers, and specifically container shipping
companies. The study uses the t-test and factor analysis to analyze major differences in CRM usage
between the shipping industries in Vietnam and Taiwan, and determines the perceived importance of
CRM services employing Importance Performance Analysis. The study finds that perceptions of CRM
are clearly different in the two countries due to their divergent socioeconomic backgrounds. Significant
differences between the application of CRM by the shipping industries in the two countries existed in
connection with four major factors (e-commerce marketing, interactive marketing, contact marketing,
and customer service marketing). It is concluded that shipping companies should improve their
computerized CRM systems in order to collect and analyze valuable marketing data from their
customers, which will enable sales personnel and customer service staff to make appropriate
decisions, improves service quality, and create greater value for customers in the highly competitive
maritime transport business.
Key words: Maritime transport, customer relationship management, importance perfomance analysis.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a concept
that enables an organization to tailor specific products or
services to each individual customer. In its most sophisticated form, CRM may be used to create a personalized,
one-to-one experience that will give the individual
customer a sense of being cared for, thus opening up
new marketing opportunities based on the preferences
and history of the customer (Wilson et al., 2002). CRM
also represents a customer-focused business strategy for
increasing customer satisfaction and customer loyalty by
offering more responsive and customized service to each
A customer's relationship with a shipping company
involves prices, services, scope of service, schedule,
customer relations, company history, convenience, brand
name, and value-added services. There will be no significant differences between two shipping companies within

*Corresponding author. E-mail: hgyang@mail.nkmu.edu.tw.

the same strategic alliance group for a customer considering the factors of price, service, scope of service,
schedule, and convenience. As a consequence, the main
distinguishing factors for customers comprise company
history, brand name, customer relations, and value-added
services (Wong, 2007); in particular, customer relationships are considered to be an important marketing tool
facilitating customer retention, development of potential
customers, and enhancement of corporate competitive
While Vietnam and Taiwan are both located in the AsiaPacific region, there were many significant macroeconomic differences between two nations in 2009 (JETRO,
2010). With regard to population, Vietnam had 87.2 million
people, while Taiwan had 23.2 million; in terms of
geographic area, Vietnam occupied 331,689 km2, while
Taiwan occupied 36,191 km2; in terms of GNP, Vietnam
had a GNP of 1,060 dollars, while Taiwan had a GNP of
16,432 dollars; in terms of balance of trade, Vietnam had
12.8 billon dollars, while Taiwan 30.7 billon dollars; with
regard to balance of payments, Vietnam had 7.1 billon


Afr. J. Bus. Manage.

dollars, while Taiwan had 42.5 billion dollars; and with

regard to foreign currency reserves, Vietnam held 16.4
billion dollars, while Taiwan held 348.1 billion dollars. In
summary, while Vietnam is larger than Taiwan in terms of
both area and population, Taiwan is considerably stronger
than Vietnam from a macroeconomic perspective. In view
of the different levels of economic development of
Vietnam and Taiwan, the chief motivation of this study is
to determine whether there are any significant differences
in their maritime transport service providers' perceptions
of CRM.
Thanks to its strong economic development environment and vigorous export capability, Vietnam constitutes
a potential trading partner and place of investment for
multinational enterprises based in the U.S.A, Japan,
Taiwan, Korea, and Singapore, etc. However, the majority
of foreign enterprises and foreigners are still unfamiliar
with this socialist state thanks to the scarcity of data and
documents available for reference. As a consequence,
CRM knowledge and information connected with maritime transport in Vietnam is a worthwhile issue for both
academic researchers and practical workers.
There have been few recent studies concerning CRM
in maritime transport. The following two papers assume a
shipping company perspective: Fakhredaei (2007) proposes and tests a series of hypotheses concerning
factors influencing adoption of CRM technology at the
organizational level in Iranian shipping companies; Wong
(2007) argues that CRM and the internet, together with
application systems, have impacted shipping operations
in many ways. In another paper from the perspective of
freight forwarders, Lu and Shang (2007) evaluate the
crucial dimensions of CRM from the point of view of
freight forwarders in Taiwan. In addition, some studies
have focused on individual countries. For instance,
Minami and Dawson (2008), who defined CRM as the
use of IT-based relationship development programs,
conducted a survey project involving the retail and
service industry in Japan in order to test CRM-related
hypotheses. The current paper makes comparisons
between countries with different states of economic
development, where one is an advanced country and the
other is a developing country, and one of the purposes of
the study is to determine whether there are any significant differences in perceptions of CRM in the shipping
company arising due to economic status.
CRM is often associated with the use of information
technology to implement relationship marketing strategies
(Payne and Frow, 2004). A properly integrated IT system
can significantly improve customer service by providing
accurate shipment data for both the company and customer, and an integrated IT-based CRM program ensures
a more efficient and effective quoting and communications system for sale departments and beyond Gander
(2009). CRM systems facilitate collection and analysis of
customer data, resulting in more effectively managed
customer interactions. For example, the Anchor CRM 1.2
software is used by Yang Ming line (YML), and has

helped YML increase sales. This application gathers

detailed information about YMLs customers through an
updating system, and also enables service units to track
customer preferences and requirements.
This study has the following goals: first, to determine
CRM assessment factors for shipping companies through
a review of literature concerning CRM and interviews with
managers in representative shipping companies in
Vietnam and Taiwan. Second, to compare the CRM
systems of shipping companies in Vietnam and Taiwan,
using the t-test and factor analysis to assess perceptions
of CRM in the shipping industries of the two countries.
Third, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of CRM
implementation, by employing important performance
analysis (IPA), and provide strategies for enhancing
strengths and remedying weaknesses.



Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widelyimplemented strategy for managing a companys interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It
involves the use of technology to organize, automate,
and synchronize business processesprincipally sales
activities, but also those for marketing, customer service
and technical support. The information and communication technology components of a comprehensive CRM
strategy are integrated into CRM systems that enable the
automation of business processes in the area of marketing, sales and service in order to build and maintain
profitable long-term customer relations (Peppard, 2000).
Effective management of customer information is
increasingly crucial in CRM.
Customer information processes consists of two
sequential aspects: customer data acquisition and data
interpretation, which transforms the data into customer
information (Campbell, 2003). CRM can enable a
company's marketing department to identify and target
their best customers, manage marketing campaigns, and
generate quality leads for their sales teams. Furthermore,
CRM may help an organization to improve telephone
sales, account, and sales management by optimizing
information sharing among multiple employees and
streamlining existing processes. For example, the Marina
Logistics Company derives much of its annual profit from
logistics services provided to the Honda Vietnam
Company. Marina puts considerable effort into managing
this customer, and examines and reviews all activities
with them (including customs brokerage, consolidation,
full container loads, and less than container loads, etc.,)
in order to compare these activities with those of other
shipping companies.
For liner shipping companies, CRM services can
improve coordination and communication among ship
management, terminal operation, vehicle arrangement,
and infrastructure management. Additionally, CRM

Yang and Nguyen

encompasses interactions and activities at all nodes in

the context of policies, regulations, and contract requirements. Liner carriers must deal with business items
including service scope, schedules, customer relationships, company history, convenience, brand names, and
value-added services. Since coverage and schedule
differences have been reduced by the formation of liner
consortiums, a customer selecting a carrier must look at
such other elements as relationships, company history,
brand names, value-added services, and, most importantly, what services a carrier provides that others do not
and cannot. CRM can thus provide a competitive
advantage for carriers in the shipping industry (Wong,
CRM may also seek to minimize shipping operating
costs in order to generate maximum profits. Overall costs
for a typical shipping company chiefly consist of ship
operation and corporate management costs, each of
which accounts for roughly 50% of total costs
(Fakhredaei, 2007). Ship operation costs include ship
finance, ship crewing, insurance, ship administration,
engineering, crew management, chartering, bunker costs,
repair and maintenance, ship supplies, ports and dues,
and inspection, etc. Corporate management costs include
corporate management and administration, sales and
marketing, accounting, documentation, information systems and communications, public relations, legal affairs,
claims, rental, and real estate, etc. According to Swift
(2001), the many benefits that companies can gain from
CRM include lower cost of recruiting customers, no need
to recruit so many customers to preserve a steady
volume of business, reduced cost of sales, higher
customer profitability, increased customer retention and
loyalty, and evaluation of customer profitability. Moreover,
Zeng et al. (2003) argued that internet-enabled software
applications such as ERP, e-commerce applications,
CRM packages, and enterprise portable applications
have enabled businesses to improve their process, adopt
best of breed practices, slash costs and improve
To review the current status of CRM use in the
shipping company, this paper conducted interviews with
personnel at three representative shipping companies in
Taiwan (Wanhai, Evergreen, and Yang Ming Line) and
two representative shipping companies in Vietnam
(Vinalines and Vosco). The study discovered that, due to
the competitive and mature nature of Taiwan's maritime
market, Taiwan's shipping companies use various CRM
systems (including interactive marketing, sales automation, customer service and support) to communicate
with their customers. Banner advertisements are one of
the dominant forms of online advertising. For example,
the Evergreen Line website contains the advertising
banner Evergreen, guarding our green earth." Customer
feedback consists of customers' responses concerning
service quality. For example, in the "Cargo claim" section
of the Yang Ming Lines website, customers can send


cargo claim messages or information to the Yang Ming

Lines website, and the cargo claims department will
handle cargo claims cases and customer contact. In
summary, the CRM concept and systems already prevail
at most shipping companies in Taiwan (Table 1).
In contrast, both of the leading shipping companies in
Vietnam only engage in banner advertising and only provide customer service at contact centers, but only limited
use of CRM applications. It appears that a majority of
Vietnam's shipping companies neglect the importance of
CRM, and, under the inflexible mechanisms dictated by
state ownership, attempt to establish relationships with
their customers through traditional marketing techniques,
such as low-freight strategies seeking to retain existing
customers and giving special service to large and loyal
customers. Vietnamese shipping companies must
increase their use of CRM in the near future if they are to
meet their customers' expectations in the highly competitive maritime shipping market, however. In this regard,
Vietnamese shipping companies can learn valuable and
constructive CRM knowledge from their Taiwanese
counterparts, including the use of CRM software to
manage customer information, application of the CRM
concept to management of customers and maintenance
of good relations with customers, and attraction of
customers using company services. For instance, contact
management systems can help companies and
individuals to manage and organize their contacts, and
manage customer details and customer interactions. The
service calling information section of the Wan Hai line
website is an example of the application of contact
management. Vietnamese shipping companies should
therefore use CRM functions to perform interactive
marketing, automate sales, and provide customer service
and support, allowing them to serve their customers in a
more effective and efficient way.
Research procedures
This paper seeks to compare perceptions of CRM among
Vietnamese and Taiwanese maritime transport service providers
using the t-test, factor analysis, and IPA. The study survey focuses
specifically on shipping companies among maritime transport
service providers. The questionnaire design and research methods
are described further.
Step 1: Questionnaire design
To assure the appropriateness of questionnaire content, a preliminary questionnaire survey was conducted in both Vietnam and
Taiwan. The content of the final questionnaire was confirmed after
several preliminary tests and discussion with some professional
shipping industry personnel.
Since the purpose of this study was to assess perceptions of
CRM in Vietnam and Taiwan from the perspective of maritime
service providers, rather than from the perspective of customers,
the respondents were therefore mainly sales representatives


Afr. J. Bus. Manage.

Table 1. Comparison of CRM use at Vietnamese and Taiwanese shipping companies.

CRM factor
Assessment factors
Banner advertising
Website design
Online media
Sales presentation
Tracking of customer interaction
Contact management system
Order management system
Sales forecasting system
Contact center
Help desk
Call management system
Customer self service


Wan Hai



means the company provides the service in question.

(including sale managers, directors,


and staff)

at shipping

Step 2: Reliability and validity test

In the process of determining the questionnaire items, it was crucial
to ensure the validity of their content, which is an important measure of a survey instruments accuracy. The assessment of content
validity typically involves a systematic review of the content to
ensure that it includes everything it should and does not include
anything it should not. A reliability test was conducted to examine
whether the selected CRM factors were valid.

Step 3: T-test analysis

The t-test is most appropriate when the values for the sample
population are expected to have an approximately normal distribution (which implies that the t-distribution becomes closer to the
normal distribution as degrees of freedom increase). T-values may
be calculated from the values of the sample population ( Gosset,
The t-test was applied in this paper to examine whether there are
the significant differences in CRM factors between the shipping
industries of Vietnam and Taiwan.

Step 4: Factor analysis

Factor analysis is a technique used to reduce a large set of
variables to a smaller set of underlying factors, detecting the presence of meaningful patterns among the original variables, and
extracting the crucial dimensions. Principle component analysis with
VARIMAX rotation was employed to identify key dimensions in this

Step 5: Importance performance analysis (IPA)

The final step involved use of importance-performance analysis
(IPA). IPA was proposed by Martilla (1977), and was termed action

grid analysis (AGA) by Blake et al. (1978). Rather than just an

analytical methodology, it is an implicit theory of behavior, and was
introduced as a means of understanding clients needs and desires
so as to make good management decisions regarding how to
respond to them. IPA can facilitate the derivation of reasonable
conclusions concerning modification of attribute performance in
order to effect improvements such as increased profit or customer
IPA was constructed based on mean importance/performance
values, and provides insight for management recommendations
based on each attribute's position in one of the four quadrants:
keep up the good work, concentrate here, low priority and possible
overkill. The intersection of the importance/performance axes is a
critical aspect of IPA, and can potentially impact interpretation.
Some IPA studies determine the intersection based on the mean
value of importance and performance of observed attributes (Black
et al., 1978). However, another study has shown that this placement can lead to the problems with interpretation, and recommends
mean centering of the importance/performance scale. This paper
adopts the suggestion of Black et al. (1978) of locating the
intersection of axes based on the mean values when setting up an
IPA graph for the shipping industries in Vietnam and Taiwan.
Assessment factors
According to Dickie (2006), customer relationship management is a
broadly recognized, widely-implemented strategy for managing and
nurturing a companys interactions with clients and sales prospects.
It involves the use of technology to organize, automate, and
synchronize business processes, principally sales activities, but
also the functions of marketing, customer service, and technical
support. The overall goals of CRM are to find, attract, and win new
customers, nurture and retain existing customers, entice former
customers back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and
customer service.
Once simply a label for a category of software tools, CRM today
generally denotes a company-wide business strategy embracing all
customer-facing departments and even beyond. When CRM
implementation is effective, people, processes, and technologies
work in synergy to increase profitability and reduce operational

Yang and Nguyen

CRM systems can provide enterprises with an integrated view of

prospects and customers, and provide a channel for interactive
marketing, sales automation, and customer service and support
(Wilson, 2005). This study believes that the comparison of CRM
functions at Vietnamese and Taiwanese shipping companies can
provide some good lessons for each of these countries, and can
also reveal the advantages and disadvantages of application of
CRM functions by shipping companies.
Companies have a need for CRM functionality to support the
marketing, sales, order, production, and service process. Perrson
(2004) stated that CRM functionality can be divided into three main
categories, which are, marketing automation, sales force automation, and customer service and support. Sales automation includes
the support of all sales activities associated with individual contact,
and the focus of so-called computer aided selling systems is on
supporting the internal and external sales process (for example,
tracking customer interaction, contact management system, order
management system and sales forecasting system) through
information and communications technology (Xu et al, 2002;
Ahearne et al, 2007; Torggler, 2009).
Interactive marketing refers to the evolving trend in marketing
whereby marketing has moved from a transaction-based effort to a
conversation. The definition of interactive marketing comes from
John Deighton at Harvard, who states that interactive marketing is
the ability to address the customer, remember what the customer
says, and address the customer again in a way that illustrates that
the company remembers what the customer has told it (Deighton,
1996). Electronic commerce and catalog companies commonly
make use of order management software.
This software facilitates the entering of orders, both via a website shopping cart or a data entry system (for orders received via
phone and mail), and typically captures proprietary customer
information and account level information. Credit verification and
payment processing is performed to check validity and/or availability of funds. Once entered, valid orders are processed for
warehouse fulfillment, such as picking/packing/shipping (Leeuwen,
Many benefits can be derived from customer service and support,
and companies are increasingly realizing that the quality of their
customer support has great influence on their customer
relationships (Xu et al, 2002). Customer service and support (CSS)
is the part of a company's customer relationship management
(CRM) department that interacts with a customer for their immediate benefit, including components such as the contact center, the
help desk, call management system and the customer selfservice(Williams, 2006; Zeng et al., 2003).
To identify the feasibility of CRM assessment dimensions and
factors for shipping companies, this paper conducted personal
interviews with several specialists involving CRM tasks in
Kaohsiung, Taiwan from June to August in 2009 (these personnel
were affiliated with Yang Ming Line, Wan Hai Line, Evergreen,
OOCL, APL, Han Jin, OOCL logistics and Yes Logistics). The CRM
assessment factors that were ultimately confirmed are shown in
Table 2.

Data collection
Two of the aforementioned recent articles (Fakhredaei, 2007; Lu
and Shang, 2007) analyzed CRM attributes from perspective of
maritime service providers, and thereby extended the scope of
CRM investigation from customers to the service provider. In
addition, sale representatives at shipping companies are considered to be frontline personnel because they are responsible for
communicating and negotiating with customers. The opinions of
sale representatives can therefore be considered to be a valuable
means of investigating consumer behavior. As a consequence, the


survey questionnaires, which were distributed by mail, e-mail, and

via personal interviews, were aimed at specialists in the sale
departments of shipping firms.
Data collection from two different countries proved to be a somewhat difficult task. This paper employed two methods of acquiring
useful data: The first was to obtain the names of shipping
companies from lists maintained by shipping organizations, and the
other was to rely on personal relationships by asking experts at
shipping companies and forwarders for information. In particular,
when surveying companies in Vietnam, since the majority of
Vietnamese shipping companies were unfamiliar with CRM, it
proved to be quite time-consuming to explain the definitions and
characteristics of CRM to the questionnaire respondents.
The survey was conducted using Vietnamese- and Chineselanguage questionnaires translated by researchers who are native
speakers of the respective languages. The framework of the
questionnaire consisted of three parts addressing demographic
information, degree of importance, and degree of satisfaction
respectively. The respondents consisted chiefly of personnel at
shipping companies. We collected data from shipping organizations
in Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Hanoi and Haiphong in Vietnam by
mail, e-mail, and personal interviews from September to November
in 2009. The respondents were selected by random sampling
among the aforementioned Vietnamese and Taiwanese container
shipping companies. A total of 100 questionnaires were
administered to 50 personnel at companies in Vietnam and Taiwan
respectively by e-mail, personal interview or telephone interview.
The questionnaire used a five-point Likert scale to rate degree of
importance and degree of satisfaction; with regard to degree of
importance, possible responses ranged from strongly disagree (1)
to strongly agree (5)"; with regard to degree of satisfaction,
responses ranged from strongly dissatisfied (1) to strongly
satisfied (5)."

Basic data analysis
This paper sought to discover the differences in the perception of CRM among the shipping industries in Vietnam
and Taiwan by means of various methods, including
literature review, personal interviews, and a questionnaire
survey. Comparing the different systems in the two
countries was not a simple task; for example, Vietnam is
a socialist country, and the majority of its shipping companies and forwarders are state-owned enterprises with
conservative attitudes, which resulted in many difficulties
involving data collection and questionnaire administration. In contrast, because Taiwan is a democracy with
free market mechanisms, we could easily obtain valuable
comments and suggestions from domestic or international shipping companies located in the port of Kaohsiung.
The majority of company names and addresses were
obtained from local shipping company associations or,
and some companies were also obtained from lists of
companies in shipping newspapers and magazines. As
shown in Table 3, a total of 54 questionnaires were
received from 26 shipping companies in Vietnam and 28
shipping companies in Taiwan, hence the total response
rate was 54%; the questionnaire response rates by
country were 52 and 56% for Vietnam and Taiwan


Afr. J. Bus. Manage.

Table 2. CRM assessment factors for shipping companies.

Assessment factor
Banner advertising

Deighton (1996), Perrson
(2004) , Wilson (2005),
Leeuwen (2009)

Banner advertisements are one of the dominant forms of
advertising online. For example, the Evergreen Line website
contains the advertising banner EVERGREEN guarding our green

Website design

Deighton (1996), Perrson

(2004) , Wilson (2005),
Leeuwen (2009)

Web design is the creation of content presentations that are

delivered to end-users through the Internet.

Online media

Deighton (1996), Perrson

(2004), Wilson (2005),
Leeuwen (2009)

Improvement of customer satisfaction (e.g., enabling customers to

share experiences online by creating a self-running community
where customers can interact with and learn from their peers).

Sales presentation

Deighton (1996), Perrson

(2004), Wilson (2005),
Leeuwen (2009)

A salesperson or a sales team presents detailed information (often

including a live demonstration) about a product or product line.

Customer feedback

Deighton (1996),
Perrson(2004), Wilson
(2005), Leeuwen(2009)

Feedback from customers about service quality. For example: the

"Cargo claim" section of the Yangming Lines website.

Tracking of customer

Xu et al. (2002), Perrson

(2004), Wilson (2005),
Ahearne et al. (2007),
Torggler (2009)

Personalized customer information is retrieved from the interaction

database and used while interacting with the customer.

Contact management

Xu et al. (2002), Perrson

(2004), Wilson (2005),
Ahearne et al. (2007),
Torggler (2009)

Helps companies and individuals to manage and organize their

contacts, and manage customer details and customer interactions.
Example: the service calling information section of the Wan Hai
line website.

Order management

Xu et al. (2002), Perrson

(2004), Wilson(2005),
Ahearne et al. (2007),
Torggler (2009)

Used to keep track of orders from customers, and packing and

shipping to customer.

Sales forecasting

Xu et al. (2002), Perrson

(2004), Wilson (2005),
Ahearne et al. (2007),
Torggler (2009)

A sales forecasting systems facilitate forecasting and analysis of

various sales opportunities. Forecasts will help the company
calculate profits, make decisions concerning investments, and
launch new products and services.

Contact center

Perrson (2004), Wilson

(2005), Williams (2006),
Zeng et al. (2003).

A contact center is the central point in an enterprise from which all

customer contacts are managed. A contact center typically
includes one or more online call centers but may include other
types of customer contact as well, including e-mail newsletters,
postal mail catalogs, Web site inquiries and chats, and the
collection of information from customers at time of in-store

Help desk

Perrson (2004), Wilson

(2005), Williams (2006),
Zeng et al. (2003).

A help desk is an information and assistance resource enabling

troubleshooting of problems with computers or similar products.
Corporations often provide help desk support to their customers
via a toll-free number, website, and/or e-mail.

Perrson (2004), Wilson

(2005), Williams (2006),

A call management system is a database, administration, and

reporting application helping businesses identify operational issues
and take immediate action to solve them.

Perrson (2004), Wilson

(2005), Williams (2006),
Zeng et al. (2003).

Customers can check the status of their requests online, thereby

reducing unnecessary follow-up calls to a help desk.

Call management
Customer self service

Yang and Nguyen


Table 3. Questionnaire response rate.

Type of business
Vietnam shipping company
Taiwan shipping company

Questionnaires sent

Questionnaires returned

Response rate (%)


Table 4. General profile of questionnaire respondents.


Office location

Job title

Working experience






General Manager






Vietnam company
Taiwan company

As shown in Table 4, the demographic characteristics
of the respondents were as follows: 48.15% were at
Vietnamese companies and 51.85% at Taiwanese companies. Office locations included Kaohsiung (51.85%),
Hanoi (33.33%), and Haiphong (14.81%). Respondents
job titles included manager (37.04%), staff (25.93%),
director (22.22%), and general manager (14.81%). In
terms of working experience, 31.48% of respondents had
6 to 10 years of experience, 18.52% had 21 to 25 years,
and 16.67% had 5 years or less. The respondents job
titles, lines of business, and working experience suggest
that their opinions are informed and representative. The
fact that almost all the respondents worked at shipping
companies may indicate that the results are representative views concerning CRM in the shipping company.
Validity and reliability test
The term validation refers to the demonstration of
measures validity and reliability (Morse et al., 2002).

Validity comprises content validity, unidimensionality, and

convergent validity (Mentzer et al., 2001; Steenkamp and
Van Trijp, 1991). The content validity of the study
questionnaire was tested through a literature review and
interviews with practitioners, that is, the questions in the
questionnaire were based on previous studies and
discussions with a number of liner shipping and forwarder
executives and experts. The questionnaire items were
judged to be relevant by 54 shipping executives. The
interviews resulted in minor modifications to the wording
and examples provided in some measurement items; the
modified measurement items were included in the survey
questionnaire, and this questionnaire can therefore be
accepted as possessing content validity.
Unidimensionality and convergent validity are assessed
by fit indices, standardized residuals, factor loadings and
t-values. The measurement model involves four latent
factors: 'Factor 1', 'Factor 2', 'Factor 3' and 'Factor 4'. The
minimum requirements for model identification were
satisfied in the model. All the factor loadings were greater
than 0.6 and their t-values are significant at the 0.001
level. Notably, the four indicators 'Online Media,' 'Contact


Afr. J. Bus. Manage.

Table 5. Summary of degree of importance and satisfaction.

Assessment factor
Banner advertising
Website design
Online media
Sales presentation
Customer feedback
Tracking of customer interaction
Contact management system
Order management system
Sales forecasting system
Contact center
Help desk
Call management system
Customer self service







The mean scores are based on a five-point scale; S.D. = standard deviation.

Management System,' 'Order Management System,' and

'Call Management System' were deleted since their
standardized residual covariance values were larger than
1.96. In addition, the fit index criteria were marginally
satisfied (CMIN/df: 1.964, CFI: 0.970, GFI: 0.913, AGFI:
0.813; FRMR: 0.028 RMSEA: 0.096). Unidimensionality
and convergent validity requirements were therefore
In additional to reliability testing, the Cronbach's alpha
reliability test yielded a value of 0.869. Since, according
to the suggestion of Nunnally (1978), a Cronbach's alpha
value of > 0.7 indicates good reliability, this result
indicates adequate internal consistency.
Descriptive statistics
As seen in Table 5, the factor Customer feedback was
more important than the other factors due to its high rank.
In addition, the factors Tracking of customer interaction
and Call management system were ranked 2nd and 3rd
respectively. Customer feedback plays an important role
in the shipping industry since it can provide sales personnel with important information, such as the needs of
existing customers, perceptions of customer service
quality, ways of remedying service shortcomings comared with other competitors and new businesses models
that may be adopted with potential customers, etc.
With regard to degree of satisfaction, the factor Call
management system ranked highest among these
questions, and was followed by Sales presentation and
Help desk" in that order. Shipping companies can use
call management systems to handle large quantities of
phone calls from customers, and can thereby avoid
missing any offers or requests from their customers.

Furthermore, call management can enable customers to

obtain useful information from shipping companies before
making final decisions concerning booked space, freight
rate, shipment schedule, custom clearance date, and B/L
issuance date, etc.
T-test analysis
As shown in Table 6, among the assessment factors, the
perception of sales automation differed significantly (P =
0.000 < 0.05) among Vietnamese and Taiwanese shipping companies. In addition, the perception of the sales
automation factor can be seen as the importance
assigned to managing customers at a shipping company.
The foregoing table shows that the factors Banner
advertising and Order rmanagement system are perceived differently by shipping companies in Vietnam and
Taiwan. Taiwan's shipping companies can support CRMs
activities with advanced high-tech software and hardware, which can help such companies to gain many
advantages. For example, the factor Banner advertising
was commonly used by shipping companies in Taiwan to
communicate the corporate image and services to
customers in a fast and effective manner. In addition,
Taiwanese shipping companies also employed Order
management system to help them manage their customers booking of space, shipping routes, container
equipment, cargo tracking, and shipment tasks based on
customer requirements. In contrast, due to backward IT
and budget restrictions, Vietnamese shipping companies
did not use high-tech equipment to facilitate their CRM
This makes it clear that significant differences in the implementation of CRM services exist between Taiwanese

Yang and Nguyen


Table 6. T-Test of CRM assessment factors.

Assessment factor
Bannner advertising
Website design
Online media
Sales presentation
Customer feedback
Tracking of customer interaction
Contact management system
Order management system
Sales forecasting system
Contact center
Help desk
Call management system
Customer self service

Vietnamese shipping

Taiwanese shipping

T value

P value



* means that the value is significant (P < 0.05).

and Vietnamese shipping industries.

Factor analysis
Factor analysis was performed via principal component
analysis with Varimax rotation, and principal components
analysis with Varimax rotation was employed to identify
key dimensions. Factor analysis results yielded eigenvalues exceeding 1 and factor loadings exceeding 0.65.
Four factors were consequently identified and defined

desk; contact center was the service item with the

greatest load, and these factors accounted for 80% of the
total variance.
Factor 4
Customer service marketing, which consisted of the two
items of customer self-service and sales forecasting
system; sale forecasting system was the service item
with the greatest load, and these factors accounted for
79% of the total variance.

Factor 1
Important performance analysis
E-Commerce marketing, which consisted of the four
items of website design, banner advertising, online media
and order management system; website design was the
service item with the greatest load, and these factors
accounted for 87% of total variance.
Factor 2
Interacting marketing, which consisted of the four items of
tracking of customer interactions, customer feedback,
sales presentation and call management system; tracking
of customer interactions was the service item with the
greatest load, and these factors accounted for 72% of the
total variance.
Factor 3
Contact marketing, which consisted of the three items of
contact center, contact management system and help

As Table 7 illustrates, no CRM factors appear in the area

of keep up the good work" for Vietnamese shipping
companies, which implies that these companies have not
really developed CRM services, and their customer do
not feel very satisfied with their services. In fact, in comparison with foreign shipping companies, Vietnamese
shipping companies provide poor transport and customer
services even in the domestic market. This is primarily
because Vietnamese shipping companies own small
fleets (mainly feeder services), and also, since transportation demand connected with international trade is
increasing rapidly in the Vietnamese market, a majority of
cargo in this market is handled by foreign shipping companies. Moreover, Vietnamese export-import enterprises
generally perform purchasing and sales transactions on
the basis of buying CIF and selling FOB international
trading terms. Foreign trading partners consequently
always have the right to choose ships, and the owners of
Vietnam shipping companies do not have any marketing
capabilities or communication channels with which to


Afr. J. Bus. Manage.

Table 7. Summary of CRM IPA for Vietnamese and Taiwanese shipping companies.


Vietnamese shipping

Keep up the good


Overall shipping
Call management system
Help desk

Taiwanese shipping
Help desk
Customer feedback


Customer feedback
Customer self service

Online media
Help desk
Tracking of customer
Customer feedback

Customer self service

The call management system
Online media
Help desk
Tracking of customer interaction

Low priority

Banner advertising
Website design
Online media
Tracking of customer
Contact management system
Order management system
Contact center

- Contact management system

- Sales presentation
- Banner advertising

Contact management system

Website design
Banner advertising

Possible overkill

- Sales presentation
- Sales forecasting system

- Sales forecasting system

- Website design
- Contact center
- Customer self service
- The call management system
- Order management system

Sales forecasting system

Contact center
Sales presentation

search for foreign customers.

In the case of the Taiwanese shipping companies, there
are some CRM factors in the area of concentrate here,"
which implies high importance and low satisfication. The
CRM factors Online media," Help desk, and Tracking
of interaction system are very important with regard to
managing customers at both Taiwanese and Vietnamese
shipping companies. Furthermore, the CRM customer
feedback factor is very important for Vietnamese shipping companies; these companies need to improve their
rigid existing marketing systems and service qulity via the
communication channel of customer feedback in order to
increase market share and maintain a sustainable
competitive advantage under tough market conditions.
In the case of Vietnamese shipping companies, almost
all CRM factors are in the area of lower priority, which
implies low importance and low satisfication. While the
Vietnamese shipping market currently still has great
development potential, Vietnamese shipping companies
are weak in the area of customer service compared with
foreign shipping companies. There are many reasons for
the weaknesses of domestic shipping companies,
including Vietnam's poor infrastructure and high inflation

Finally, in comparison with the Taiwanese shipping

companies, the Vietnamese shipping companies have
many items in the area of possible overskill," which
implies that while the customers of Vietnam shipping
companies are satisfied with these CRM factors, these
factors are not really important. As a consequence,
Vietnamese shipping companies should organize and
design services with distinguishing features that will
enhance their profit and competitive ability.
While Taiwanese shipping companies have acquired
considerable experience in developing their customer
services, the CRM concept is just beginning to emerge at
a few of the larger Vietnamese shipping companies. It
should be noted that Vietnamese shipping companies
have only an 18% share of the market as a whole, and
the large remaining portion is controlled by foreign corporations; this is because Vietnamese shipping companies
have no mega container ships providing long-haul oceangoing service, and do not enjoy the open-market policies
of WTO members.
Most Vietnamese companies are therefore forced to
sell FOB (free on board) and purchase CIF (cost, insurance and freight). Vietnamese companies must therefore
bear the burden of chartering or renting larger vessels

Yang and Nguyen

from foreign corporations, which forces them to pay

higher transportation costs than foreign shipping companies with their own commercial fleets. Customer
service management at Vietnamese companies is still a
weakness, and these companies have to enhance their
service quality and time efficiency to seek a competitive
advantage in the fiercely competitive maritime supply
chain market.
Shipping is one of the major transportation industries,
and consists of several segments. Each of these segments is approaching the customer service revolution in
different ways in order to achieve a competitive
advantage. CRM involves a fast-growing type of business
software system that has been embraced by manufacturers and service providers in many industries, and
can be used to shed light on the buying habits and
preferences of customers and prospects. While the
employment of CRM can bring many advantages for a
globally competitive industry such as shipping, contrary to
what might be expected, most carriers and logistics
providers have yet to formally adopt CRM programs.
The goal of this study is to confirm CRM assessment
factors for shipping company, to compare the CRM
systems of shipping companies in Vietnam and Taiwan,
and finally to identify the strengths and weaknesses of
CRM implementation of employing important performance analysis.
The main findings of this study are discussed in light of
their theoretical and managerial implications:


4. Perceived service characteristics and environmental

factors can also effectively promote adoption of CRM. It is
often believed that companies have more tendencies to
computerize their information systems under adverse
environmental conditions, which will lessen their costs.
The study therefore fully supports the suggestion of Lu
and Shang (2007) that firms oriented toward customer
information processes and responsiveness have better
financial performance.
5. As for managerial implications, shipping companies
should reinforce their computerized CRM systems in
order to collect and analyze useful marketing data from
their customers, including shipping routes, trading
volume, cargo categories, payment terms, and financial
situations, etc. This can enable sales personnel and
customer service staff to make appropriate decisions,
improves service quality, and create greater value for
customers in the highly competitive shipping business.
This paper's conclusions are entirely consistent with
those of Wong (2007), who argued that CRM supported
by information technologies and the internet, provides a
competitive advantage in the shipping company.
6. Finally, this study concludes that CRM is not merely a
tool for acquiring important data and information from
customers, but is also a communication platform for
sharing information concerning products and services,
exchanging customer knowledge, and maintaining personal relationships for the sake of customer retention,
potential customer development, new business creation,
and promotion of sustainable development of any
company or organization in the maritime supply chain.

1. Perceptions of CRM are clearly different in the two

countries due to their differing socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of technological development, and the
discrepancy is clearest in the case of banner adverting
and order management systems, where there are significant differences between Vietnamese and Taiwanese
shipping companies.
2. It was discovered that major factors (including e-commerce marketing, interactive marketing, contact
marketing and customer service marketing) can affect the
adoption of CRM in this industry. As mentioned earlier,
adopter characteristics include the two major attributes of
CRM knowledge and attitude toward change. It therefore
takes a certain amount of effort to make an organization
ready for adoption of CRM.
3. As for theoretical implications, a company that is
interested in launching a CRM product for the shipping
industry should first make sure that the characteristic of
its product meets the requirements of the industry. This
paper therefore supports the arguments of Lin et al.
(2009), who suggested that firms should offer their
customers different services, products, and marketing
channels in order to meet their diversified needs and
foster a win-win CRM environment for both parties.

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