Purpose – This research attempts to understand why – or why not – customers resist switching service providers when a critical incident occurs. The paper examines how service relationship perceptions, such as perceived equity, trust (perceived reliability and benevolence) and relationship commitment (affective and calculative), enhance relationship maintenance and CSR in many critical situations. Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted in the financial service industry on a sample of 1,999 consumers (retail banking) and then conceptualized and measured CSR in several critical situations. Findings – The paper demonstrates that perceived equity, perceived reliability, perceived benevolence, affective commitment, and calculative commitment do not influence CSR the same way. CSR mainly depends on the type of critical incident which occurs. For instance, calculative commitment, which is an evaluation of the costs associated with leaving the service provider, enhances CSR in three critical situations (service encounter failures, employee responses to service failures, pricing problems), whereas it leads to relationship disengagement in two other critical situations (inconvenience, changes in the consumer or service provider situation). Research limitations/implications – This research highlights the need to better take into account the different types of critical incident discussed in the relationship marketing literature and to better consider the complementary roles of perceived equity, trust and relationship commitment in the service switching literature. Originality/value – This research implies that service companies have to anticipate the critical incidents and to develop specific “shock absorbers” to continue doing business with their current customers.
International Journal of Service Industry Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 16, 2007
Keywords: Relationship marketing; Trust; Customer loyalty