Vlerick Repository

The Vlerick Repository is a searchable Open Access publication database, containing the complete archive of research output (articles, books, cases, doctoral dissertations,…) written by Vlerick faculty and researchers and preserved by the Vlerick Library.

Find out more about Open Access.

Call to action!

Making your past and future work Open Access in the Vlerick Repository is easy. Send the details of your research output (incl. post-print version) to research@vlerick.com.


Select a community to browse its collections.

Research Output
Business Research Projects
  • On the development of a new training- and customer experience offering

    Kermans, Victor; Van Der Beken, Jeroen; Vluymans, Louise (2022)
    Yanmar is currently redefining its strategy within the market of construction equipment. Yanmar CE EMEA aspires to focus on delivering the best customer experience. Owing to this, the concept of trainings - sales and technical trainings - as well customer experiences, such as product demonstrations must be defined for the future. The crux of the matter can be formulated as a single question. What is the most efficient, attractive, and convenient way to offer product training, technical training and a customer experience to the dealers and end-customers in a financially sustainable way? To answer this research question, data is gathered from a wide range of sources. The data was gathered by internal- and external interviews, customer surveys, and desk research. Its aim is to understand the competitive landscape, Yanmar’s positioning within this landscape and opportunities for Yanmar’s future training- and customer’s experience. Hence, the 3C framework is adopted as a comprehensive foundation. Four main trends could be identified among competitors. First, there is a clear trend or preference for customer centers to provide trainings and organize customer experiences of different types. The centers are situated at accessible locations. Simultaneously, they are often close to plants. The practice is most often supported by a strong online training platform that offers sales training and technical training, among other features. The customer survey revealed that communication is the main reason why dealers are currently not joining. When their view on the important parameters for training was questioned, three parameters stood out. The physical access to machines, the opportunity to share expertise and, for product trainings, the opportunity to benchmark with competitors. For customer experience, the overall experience grew immensely in importance, yet the access to machines and demo remained the most important parameter by far. The company interviews highlighted different hurdles and opportunities. An urgent demand for systematic product trainings came to light which could provide additional homogeneity. The technical training consists of elements which require physical training, yet digital solutions are currently developed and can be expanded in the future. The importance of customer experience was highlighted by the connection of it through the whole customer journey. From sales to after-sales, there is always a customer behind. Delivering the best customer experience constitutes an influential goal with implications for all activities. The key recommendations are presented as five scenarios in which product training, technical training and the customer experience are envisioned with an extensive business plan. There are three categories, i.e., one online scenario is introduced, two local scenarios and two center scenarios. The online scenario focus on the development of online capabilities by launching a digital platform. The platform aims to establish three features, namely connectivity, e-learning and on-demand learning. The on-demand learning serve as physical back-up that support the digital content. The first center scenario proposes to build a center near a production site. This leaves two options, either close to Saint-Dizier or close to Crailsheim. The financial analysis confirms the feasibility. The quality of trainings, the low HR implications and low operational complexity are the main benefits of this scenario. Minor changes are required compared with the current way of working. Nonetheless, synergies would be created by concentrating efforts on a single center instead of two independent locations. The new customer center could include promising customer experience options if incorporated in the building’s design. The second center scenario considers a new accessible location. This aims to boost the overall experience with a more attractive location or more neutral location in between the existing premises. Different locations come with different advantages. Some focus on the customer experience aspect, while other prioritize the potential strain on Yanmar’s workforce due to relocation. In general, the same considerations of the former scenario are applicable here as well. The first local scenario aspires to optimize the currently held local trainings by clustering dealers based on, among others, distance and size. This clustering ensures close relations within the cluster and with a market specific training team. Scheduled trainings would be offered, but the improved proximity could empower two-way communication on demand. Next to trainings, demo fleets and the customer experience can be localized too. The scenario would require a highly mobile training team that is willing to work remotely. Lastly, the second local scenario is based on the cluster scenario. The concept of the Yanmar Tour as organized in 2021 is added mainly to the core markets to boost the customer experience and local product training with an additional brand injection. This could truly realize the vision of customer intimacy and delivering the best customer experience. However, this introduces a considerable added operational cost which has to be overcome to make this scenario feasible. The scenarios are evaluated using 16 KPIs that cover the interests of Yanmar, the dealer networks and compare the solution with the competition. Weights are assigned to the KPIs using the analytic hierarchy process (AHP). Using a decision matrix, a quantitative evaluation of all scenarios is made. The resulting decision matrix prefers the center scenario near a production site, i.e., to build a center at Rothenburg/Crailsheim or at Saint-Dizier. There is a small favour for Rothenburg/Crailsheim. Next, the online scenario ranks third due to the estimated low upfront investments and operational costs. Building center in a new accessible location would imply a relatively higher operational cost, more HR implications and more overall risk; this causes this scenario to be valued fourth. Finally, the local scenarios come in last. While they score great on dealer and competitor related KPIs, the financial strain for Yanmar significantly lowers the score of the scenarios. In short, a center scenario near a production site or a focus on online capabilities is recommended considering the evaluation of the decision matrix.
  • Unleashing e-commerce’s potential an exploratory study about companies’ drivers and barriers to purchase it-related products and services online

    Buckenberger, Jenny; Melis, Mathieu; Zamora, Valeria (2022)
    Inetum-Realdolmen has helped companies navigate through the challenges of the digital world for over 14 years, by offering a wide range of IT-related products and delivering strategic, operational and tactical solutions. The company is part of the Inetum Group, who aims to conquer new markets and to continue building a culture of positive digital flow for all stakeholders. This resulted in a consolidated turnover of more than €2.219 billion worldwide in 2021. Now, Inetum-Realdolmen is innovating its way of doing business, and with the growing importance of e-commerce activities, the company has set high ambitions for its online channels. By developing an online solution that creates a new unified point of entry to their products, services and people for all clients, it aims at generating €1 billion in revenue by 2027 through e-commerce. Similar to the B2C market, B2B clients are now starting to demand customer centricity and the omnichannel trend is finding its way to more and more companies. THis change in consumer expectations means that the online unified point of entry will have to connect with the client base as a whole, while still engaging with each user in a personal way. The company will also have to find a way to, in addition to their current product web shops: the Cloudstore and Rstore, offer their service range online. Therefore, Inetum-Realdolmen is aiming to align the new solution with its clients preferences and find the right strategy to market the solution. Purpose: The current research seeks to discover how Inetum-Realdolmen can optimise its current web shops and expand the online portfolio with projects, professional services and managed services, to create a one-stop shop. It helps clarify which steps within the purchase process are better done using self-service technologies and provides examples of tools that can be implemented to guide clients when buying online. It also explains the feasibility of expanding the offering portfolio with services and suggests how the company can start its go-to-market strategy. Methodology: Fourteen exploratory customer interviews were conducted to understand clients’ preferences towards self-service technologies and human interaction. Both clients that already used Inetum-Realdolmen’s online solutions and clients that avoid using them were asked to map their current purchase processes, explain their experience with Inetum-Realdolmen’s web shops and elaborate on their need for human interaction. In addition, the clients were asked to state their preferences for bundling and mobile solutions to discover implementation strategies. To complete the findings retrieved from the interviews, the research team also analysed Inetum-Realdolmen’s 3 C’s (Company, Customer and Competitors) and explored future B2B sales trends. Lastly, the feasibility and strategies to market the online solutions were analysed based on internal interviews and the scalability was assessed through two exploratory interviews with teams from the Inetum Group in Spain. Findings: From the interviews, it was retrieved that although some of the processes for product and managed services are similar and thus could be standardised, the process of buying professional services and projects can be very complex and specific. Therefore, clients preferred self-service technologies while buying products or managed services as it would help them save time, but required human interaction when looking for projects or professional services due to the need for advice and coordination when specifying the service. Nevertheless, clients also mentioned there was room for technologies that would enhance their experience before and after the specification step in those cases too. When it came to the current online solutions, comparing them with B2C e-commerce web shops resulted in clients stating it lacked intuitiveness and user friendliness. The web shop was mostly used for lower volume purchases and to look up products. Non-users of the web shops clarified that they preferred direct contact with sales persons as it would give them a higher bargaining power and added a personal touch. Clients from the public sector also mentioned working through the web shop would mean they had to process the order twice, which generated more workload for them. From the interviews, it was also retrieved that clients had mixed feelings about bundling offers. Although some clients acknowledged that discounts and correctly putting offerings together brought value when Inetum-Realdolmen combined hardware, licences and services, most clients needed to maintain IT products with different inventory durations or wanted to do added services in-house and were therefore not convinced. For mobile usage, in the interviews it became clear that purchasing products in a B2B context through a mobile phone was not yet done by clients from Inetum-Realdolmen, and is not something they are eager to do. The only way a mobile solution could still bring value was by assisting them in approving and following up on orders. However, many clients were assessed to have a rigid mentality that resisted certain technological changes. In combination with the fact that most of them did belong to Generation X or Y, not being in favour of a mobile application was put into perspective. It also stressed the importance of knowing the technological readiness of the client base when going to the market with a new solution. Recommendations: In response to the findings from the client interviews, cost-benefit analysis, market research, future B2B sales trends and the company’s vision, the following actions are suggested: Grow the Customer Experience Portal to serve as a single point of entry to the Cloudstore, Rstore and a newly developed Service Store; and implement a renewed design with easier access to all offers while providing features like a centralised Admin Centre, Support Centre and Monitoring options. Limit the development of a mobile application of the Portal to a tool that allows clients to follow-up on their orders and use it as a stepping stone to future mobile extensions. This way, creating the one-stop solution will not only potentially increase the amount of business done through e-commerce, but it will also drive clients more towards self-servicing their administrative requests; which will allow account managers and customer success managers of Inetum-Realdolmen to focus on more strategic tasks. Use the client feedback and proposals to transform the current Rstore into a consumer-centric web shop. Regarding this point, Inetum-Realdolmen should improve the product information section in the store with less technical explanations and the addition of reviews. Additionally, it should add a chat-bot/box feature to the web shop to automatically answer simple questions and help clients solve more complex problems in person. Furthermore, a bundle page where customers can view and buy combined offers of hardware, licences and managed services with discounts should also be included. With its new design and features, the Rstore should serve as the part of the Portal all clients’ hardware products are bought through. Develop a Service Store that at the same time covers the online purchasing of managed services and lists and informs about all specifications of professional services and projects offered. In addition, add simple e-commerce tools like search filters and extensions, expert profiles and automatic scheduling to the web shop to help clients navigate through the different services and solutions. This will result in clients not only having a clear view on the full service range, but also having the opportunity to easily start the purchase process online in a self-service way. Reorganise the role account managers now have within the company by freeing up time that is spent on administrative workload and redirect their focus to strategic assistance and client onboarding. This way you make sure the e-commerce strategy can be an integral part of the overall sales strategy rather than as a separate business. Analyse if the company possesses not only the design skills but also the technical skills to develop the Service Store in-house as it is the most flexible option without any dependencies on third-parties nor commissions. The same vendor that was used to develop the Rstore should also be used to incorporate the new features as it will bring cost savings and a higher client satisfaction. In addition, bundles should be implemented as cross selling and upselling opportunities will outweigh the overall lower price. Direct new traffic to the Customer Experience Portal by focusing on SEO and SEA, and convince existing customers of the benefits the portal provides by communicating, for example, the time saving it will create and the availability of customer support. For scalability, reach out to other countries with insights and a tangible solution of the Customer Experience Portal. Additionally, communicate it as a powerful tool that combines the 3 web shops for clients and helps employees focus on strategic tasks by lowering administrative workload. By doing so, the portal should get all the chances of not only being adopted by clients but also being implemented in other countries.
  • Boosting the customer adoption of digital support channels

    Feyder, Caroline; Horta, Tatiana; Lequeux, Louise (2022)
    Proximus is a mobile telecommunications firm in Belgium. The company is a part of the parent organization Proximus Group, which was previously referred to as the Belgacom Group. With over two million customers, Proximus is the largest telecom operator in the country with its headquarters based in Brussels. Proximus faces fierce competition from other telecom firms, such as Orange Belgium, Telenet, Voo and many others. Proximus was established in 1994, which was part of the subsidiary called Belgacom Mobile. Many momentums followed in the next years, such as the firm being the first mobile telephony operator to offer 3G services to general public in Belgium in 2005. In the following years, Belgacom, now Proximus Group, acquired many organizations, such as Scarlet NV in 2008, and consequently expanded its parent organization. In 2021, new innovations were launched including the teleconsultation app Doktr, the sustainable banking app Banx and the launch of two joint ventures to accelerate the fiber roll-out. The current board of directors includes Guillaume Boutin, as CEO of the Proximus Group alongside many others (Proximus Group, n.d.). Our mission at Proximus for our In-Company Project is to boost the adoption of the digital support tools, namely the FAQ pages on the website, the MyProximus app and the Proximus Virtual Assistant, for current residential customers. This problem statement is further defined into five research questions, covering the awareness of the digital tools, gains and pains customers at Proximus might experience using the support tools, the reason why clients still use the call centre the most out of all the support channels, the future behaviour of clients in terms of the usage of digital support tools and what the behaviour is of customers at competitors or in other industries. To provide an answer to the research questions, insights from a wide variety of sources were analysed, more specifically from academic literature, internal and external research, an Ad Hoc VoC (Voice of The Customer) survey and a Benchmarking survey. Firstly, some academic papers and business papers were investigated in which gains and pains were uncovered about the application and chatbot. Moreover, some general insights about the rise of the digital support tools and customer decision making behaviour and perceptions of digital channels are defined and discussed. On the one hand, for applications, the convenience, ease of use and personalization are three examples of gains found in the literature. Convenience, human interaction, miscommunication, and high effort reflect, on the other hand, the perceptions of customers about chatbots. Secondly, market trends reports are discussed in which an omnichannel strategy is stated to be key when trying to provide the best experience to customers across all touchpoints in their journey. Another trend discovered is personalization and the uprise of proactive communication to offer an effortless customer service to clients. The importance of human interaction, through voice bot, for instance, is also highlighted. Thirdly, the Voice of the Customer dashboards, which is an internal source of information at Proximus, offers findings in the use of digital support tools. Around 58% of Proximus customers do not use any digital channel before calling the call centre. When focusing on the website, only 40% of clients are satisfied when looking for Sensitivity: Confidential - Not for you? Notify the sender and delete. See more on https://www.proximus.com/respect-confidentiality support, while the app is rarely considered by them when seeking help. Even though the chatbot is mostly used for getting help, a low satisfaction is observed when only a robot is involved. Fourthly, the management dashboard in Adobe looks into the behaviour of customers on the Proximus website and mobile application. It is found that 28% of clients land on the website after an organic search. Also, customer intents regarding the website and the chat are identified, which shows a high number of visits for the billing section, but no other support section ranks high in the most visited sections. Fifthly, two internal research conducted in 2019 and 2022 are included in the report. The research from 2019 analysing the drivers and barriers for online sales and servicing at Proximus, uncover the easiness to use, the efficiency and the trust as three main criteria for the adoption of digital channels. The results of the Digital Maturity Index from 2022 will be included in the overview of all Verbatims at the end of this section. Sixthly, a benchmark of telco operators in Belgium and other countries as well as firms in other industries provides insightful information. For the competitive landscape in Belgium, a main outcome are the strategies about pushing the digital tools more than the physical ones at, for instance, Telenet. Moreover, differences across FAQ webpages between all firms active in the telecom industry are present. A good practice to take out, is the clear explanation of advantages and practicalities per digital channel offered by Telenet. When comparing Proximus to global telco players, the content format, as well as the wide variety of new features in their apps differentiates these latter from their competitors. Once again, emphasizing the benefits of the channels but also loyalty programs are used in other industries to attract customers into using their digital support tools more. Seventhly, the findings of the Ad hoc VoC survey reveal that the willingness to use the website in the future is lower for Millennials compared to any other generation. When looking at the MyProximus application, this tool is the most known among Millennials, which goes hand in hand with the higher awareness for the channel by these latter and by Generation X. Moreover, for these two generations, the willingness to use the tool in the future is the highest. However, it must be noted that a low number of people mentioned to use the app for support purposes. Lastly, younger generations have a higher tendency to look for support via the chatbot, while a significantly lower willingness to use is found for Baby Boomers. Eighthly, some conclusions can be drawn from the Benchmarking survey. For the call centre, older generations and less tech-savvy customers seem to call more. Looking at the website, younger generations, as well as people who perceive themselves as more tech-savvy use the channel more when seeking support. The MyProximus application is preferred by tech-savvy peoples, since they mentioned they would be willing to use it more in the future than people who don’t perceive themselves as tech-savvy. Likewise, more tech-savvy customers will use the chatbot more than non-tech-savvy clients. Across several surveys, Verbatims were analysed and coded to reveal the gains and pains for each tool. The gains for the call centre focus primarily on the human interaction, the convenience, and the habit. However, even if this support tool is used the most, customers are dissatisfied with the long waiting queues for this channel. When Sensitivity: Confidential - Not for you? Notify the sender and delete. See more on https://www.proximus.com/respect-confidentiality looking at the website, the convenience, autonomy, structure, and the lack of technical issues are highly appreciated in contrast to the high effort to find relevant and clear information or the inability to find any answer at all. The convenience and clarity of the information are positively perceived by clients for the MyProximus app, compared to the unsatisfaction of customers with the technical issues, the relevance of the answers found and the high effort to find information on this same tool. For the chatbot, the 24/7 availability and convenience are the gains stated by the customers. Nonetheless, the pains are the miscommunication, the lack of human interaction and the inability to find an answer for this digital tool. To solve the low awareness of the digital tools for support, while highlighting the gains and solving the pains, several recommendations are provided. To reduce the number of interactions with the call centre, we advise informing the customers of the digital tools when waiting on the phone and to use the Proximus agents in the call centre and shops as digital advocators for the digital support channels. The website should be improved through a tailor-made quiz that gives the opportunity to customers to navigate the website more easily. Interactive videos are also suggested to provide a quicker and more personalized customer service. The proposed SEO campaign tackles the inability to find relevant and clear information from the start of their browsing journey. The recommendations for the application cover the technical issues, as well as the lack of awareness of the tool for support by facilitating the download of the app through a QR code promoted on the website. The proactive pop-up notifications in the app and the personalized FAQ interface will lower the effort for customers to find relevant responses. Furthermore, the new version of the guide for new users in the app will increase the low awareness of the support section within the tool. Lastly, less miscommunication in the chatbot will be achieved through a button-based menu, while the unsatisfaction regarding the lack of human interaction will be solved by giving a name and face to the bot. By combining both a text and voice recognition option for the chatbot the probability of having no answer after an interaction with the digital channel will be significantly reduced.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis of Heart failure clinic implementation: The case of Belgian healthcare providers

    Pius, Tekpor; Ochoa, Josue (2022)
    Heart failure (HF) is a major worldwide epidemic associated with high morbidity and mortality rates. The prevalence of HF is approximately 1–2% of the adult population in developed countries, rising to over 10% amongst people over the age of 65(81). In Belgium, over 200,000 people live with heart failure and there are 15,000 new cases yearly diagnosed. This has created a significant burden on the regional and national healthcare system, social costs, and impact on HF patients' and families' quality of life. The total cost of heart failure was projected to be around EUR 781 million, devouring an estimated 2% of the Belgian national healthcare budget. Traditionally, HF patients are diagnosed and treated in the cardiology department of most hospitals; however, it is believed that this approach is not reducing mortality rates, rehospitalizations, and poor quality of life. This results in an excessive cost burden on the patient and the healthcare system as the HF patients are not followed up in optimal care. Cardiologists believe that HF clinics offer more improved care management pathways for HF patients with a positive impact on treatment outcomes, they claim that the implementation of Heart Failure clinics leads to improvement in the quality of life of HF patients, reduces mortality rates, decreases readmissions or rehospitalization, and reduces the social cost of the disease. Some studies support the assertion of the cardiologist that heart failure patients treated in a Heart Failure (HF) clinic have better clinical outcomes. Even with the significant evidence of the impact of Heart Failure clinics clinicians are struggling to implement the HF clinic at their hospitals. The guidelines issued by the European Society of Cardiology in support of the implementation of integrated multidisciplinary Heart Failure clinics for managing Heart Failure are broad and do not specify a definite approach to the implementation of the HF clinic. There is no formal recognition of HF specialism for healthcare professionals in Belgium(1). And, the lack of HF nurse training and employment reimbursement further impedes the efforts of clinicians to build the HF clinic with an adequate HF healthcare workforce in their hospitals. The ESC guidelines do not specify the exact approach to implementing the HF clinic, therefore there is a diverse interpretation of what HF clinics are, what services they should provide, and the patient pathway, leading to a situation where different providers are implementing or viewing HF clinics from a diverse perspective. Clinicians willing to set up the HF clinic in their hospital run into the problem of not being able to present a strong case from a business plan perspective to support the need to implement the HF clinic. This report seeks to assist the clinicians in defining what an HF clinic is, the patient pathways, and implementing an HF clinic from a cost-benefit point of view that fits into the existing healthcare system. The report identified that healthcare providers seeking to develop an HF clinic need to look at the clinic from a value-based healthcare approach with an integrated multidisciplinary model to organize the clinic, where the value proposition for the patients' outcomes is compared with the cost of establishing the clinic. HF clinics can be implemented at incremental levels, with the HF specialist cardiologist and HF specialist nurse as the critical resources at the center of the clinic's performance. The implementation model has clearly defined KPIs for HF clinics to measure and report the impacts of the clinic from a healthcare provider and patient perspective to justify and highlight the value-driven approach. These measurements are defined to support the evidence of HF clinic's treatment improvement and follow-up reduction in all-cause mortality, readmission rate, and improved quality of life compared with usual cardiology care. The cost-benefit analysis demonstrates that the HF clinic creates opportunities for the hospital, even at the first level of implementation with the HF specialist and the HF nurse. The HF clinic benefits from cost and capacity offload (from the specialist cardiologist to the HF nurse) to see more HF patients in the clinics and, as a result, generate incremental value from additional services and treatments of following up the HF patient in a proactive preventive approach. When implementing the HF clinic, there is a need to consider the cost-benefit analysis in terms of the capacity and resource implications of setting up the clinic. Given the variety of conditions of the hospitals in terms of resources and readiness, it is possible to start implementation from a segregated consultation (specific time allocation from a shared resource to the clinic) and grow in terms of complexity and services provided for the patients. Following the proposed incremental building block implementation approach will minimize the impact of the additional resources and increase capacity, delivering additional value for the healthcare provider at each step due to the incremental number of patients attended and services provided by the clinic. In conclusion, the cost-benefit analysis supports the transition from the traditional HF care management approach to a clearly defined value-based integrated multidisciplinary HF clinic because of the cost minimization of consultation without diminishing the quality of consultation, the potential incremental revenue stream from additional patients and services provided, and the cost avoidance in patient rehospitalization freeing up bed occupancy. At the same time, it provides a customizable approach for healthcare providers to start the implementation according to their specific conditions taking advantage of the incremental value creation without making an impact on their operational costs.

View more