Purpose – The notion of relationships has been shown to be a worthwhile strategy in many service industries. This coupled with the rapid development of the internet means that it is now possible (and even beneficial) to implement internet based relationship management programs. Given the importance of this issue this paper seeks to understand the relational benefits that consumers receive in an internet environment relative to the benefits consumers receive in a traditional environment i.e. face‐to‐face. Design/methodology/approach – Results are derived from 15 in‐depth interviews (10 from the internet context and 5 from the traditional context) and over 200 quantitative surveys. Findings – The relationship benefit of “history” appears in both samples which was missing from the original study on relationship benefits. Findings also show that there are differences between the internet group of customers and the traditional customers in respect to the perceived relational benefits. In particular internet customers appear to receive lower levels of the confidence benefit. Research limitations/implications – We must be careful as these results may be context specific – one company from one industry. Future research must further investigate the ability of the internet to create and sustain relationships. The concept of history seems to be a potent one – how can firms use this newly discovered relationship benefit? Practical implications – Ultimately internet based relationships are sufficiently different from traditional relationships to require specialized management attention. Managers must pay particular attention to the results which indicate loss of confidence and the need for the personal touch. Originality/value – First piece of research to look at relationship benefits in the internet context.
Managing Service Quality – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 1, 2005
Keywords: Buyer‐seller relationships; Internet; Electronic commerce; Banking
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