True loyalty, defined by a high relative attitude in addition to high repeat purchase, is an extremely valuable asset to the service firm – as the customer’s search motivation for competitive alternatives is reduced, he/she shows an immunity to the pull of competition and provides favourable word of mouth. A conceptual model presents the likely influence of customer relationships with service workers on the development of true customer loyalty to the service firm. It is suggested that strong customer relationships with a firm’s service personnel lead to true customer loyalty to the service firm, as positive attitudes towards service staff are transferred directly to the firm. In situations where a strong relationship develops between the customer and only one particular service worker, true loyalty to the service firm will be an outcome of high personal loyalty and therefore be dependent on the continued availability of the service worker. To assist managers in encouraging relationship development between high value customers and their service personnel, potential antecedents of relationship strength have been identified. These include: the amount of perceived benefits/rewards the customer receives from the service worker, the age of their relationship, the service contact intensity, the customer’s perceived risk in acquiring the service, the customer’s interpersonal orientation and the service worker’s customer orientation as perceived by the customer.
International Journal of Service Industry Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2000
Keywords: Customers; Service levels; Customer loyalty