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Published in: Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 5/2019

21-05-2019 | Original Empirical Research

Improving customer profit predictions with customer mindset metrics through multiple overimputation

Authors: Rajkumar Venkatesan, Alexander Bleier, Werner Reinartz, Nalini Ravishanker

Published in: Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science | Issue 5/2019

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Abstract

Research and practice have called for the incorporation of customer mindset metrics (CMMs) to improve the accuracy of models that predict individual customer profits. However, as CMMs are self-reported data, collected through customer surveys, they are seldom available for a firm’s entire customer database and in addition always measured with some degree of error. Their usage in models for individual-level predictions of customer profit has therefore proven challenging. We offer a solution through a new method called multiple overimputation (MO). MO treats missing data as an extreme form of measurement error and imputes the CMMs for both customers with observed, albeit with measurement error, as well as missing values, that are then included as predictors in a model of individual customer profits. Through a simulation study, empirical application in the pharmaceutical industry, and a customer selection exercise, we demonstrate the predictive and economic value of applying MO in the context of CRM.
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Footnotes
1
Note that the estimation sample in MO does not have to be restricted to customers with observed CMMs, because all CMMs are overimputed.
 
2
For confidentiality reasons, we cannot reveal any further information about the drug category or the pharmaceutical firm.
 
3
This practice is common in the pharmaceutical industry, although it would be ideal to survey physicians at random points in time. The firm used these surveys to inform its salesforce evaluation and training, but not to determine sales calls levels for individual customers.
 
4
Please note that there are no standard items to measure attitudinal CMMs in the literature. In general, related studies measure for instance customers’ product- or service-related satisfaction (e.g., Bowman and Narayandas 2004, Cooil et al. 2007) or performance perceptions (e.g., Petersen et al. 2018) which should also be appropriate in our study of pharmaceutical sales.
 
5
For better readability, we use “CMMs” to mean “relative CMMs” throughout.
 
6
Our modeling framework similarly applies to predictions of customer lifetime value (CLV) by extending the projection window to three years (Venkatesan and Kumar 2004).
 
7
We also evaluated a regular Poisson model, but found the ZIP model to provide better model fit and predictive accuracy.
 
8
Predicted sales are obtained by first predicting a customer’s retention status and then sales conditional on retention. The MAD of predicted and observed sales therefore evaluates the accuracy of both the sales and retention models.
 
9
Please note that these metrics do not apply to VAR models.
 
10
MO is therefore an effective alternative to minimize the threat of the mere measurement effect, because it does not require firms to reach out to a broad sample of customers. As such, it reduces the chances of over-estimating the effects of sales calls that are actually attributable to the mere measurement of CMMs.
 
11
Although we have no definite information about the firm’s actual customer selection process, it was not based on CMM information and therefore likely similar to, or even less effective than, Model 1.
 
12
In a simulation study, our model specification and estimation algorithm satisfactorily recovered the true parameters.
 
13
In the rest of the manuscript, CMMs therefore refer to customer i’s prior CMMs.
 
14
Although, in general, customers’ CMMs as well as their spending behavior can vary over time, due to the nature of our data and similar to Petersen et al. (2018), we treat these variables as time-invariant and compute their average value during period 2, prior to making predictions in period 3.
 
15
We repeated the estimation by varying the specification of the initialization time period 1. The substantive results remained unchanged.
 
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Metadata
Title
Improving customer profit predictions with customer mindset metrics through multiple overimputation
Authors
Rajkumar Venkatesan
Alexander Bleier
Werner Reinartz
Nalini Ravishanker
Publication date
21-05-2019
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science / Issue 5/2019
Print ISSN: 0092-0703
Electronic ISSN: 1552-7824
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-019-00658-6