Relationship marketing (RM) has been widely accepted as an important determinant of long-term business success and is believed to be especially well suited for services because of the personal contact between customers and service providers. Past research has focused mainly on the advantages of RM for companies, while less attention has been paid to relationships from the customer's point of view. We suggest that relationships may be described as ranging from spurious to true, depending on customer-perceived relationship benefits, trust and commitment. A qualitative study of customer relationships was conducted in a car dealership, where profitability depends on customer commitment to both after-sales services and the car brand. Customer relationships were found to be more spurious than true. The study revealed that behavioural commitment to after-sales services was high, but that affective commitment was low to moderate. Customers were satisfied but did not perceive the services to be superior to the competitors' service offerings. They trusted authorised repair in general and did not feel that after-sales service would have more than a minor influence on their future car purchases.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2002
Keywords: Customers; Trust; Commitment; Motor industry
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