Little attention has been paid to prospective customers who defect before buying. This paper examines the almost customer phenomenon. It reviews literature on service quality, customer satisfaction, retention, relationships, loyalty and defection. It also categorizes the causes of almost customer experiences into a series of themes. The almost customer phenomenon and its effects are presented in the context of implications for managers and for future research. The almost customer phenomenon may appear to be a study of early customer defection, but the almost customer defects before buying. The customer defection literature assumes that a firm has attracted customers. But, not every attempted transaction leads to a purchase. Sometimes, elements of the interaction have an impact on whether or not the individual buys. This paper examines defection before a customer becomes a customer. Reducing the incidence of almost customer episodes represents an opportunity for firms to optimize growth and profitability.
Managing Service Quality – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 1, 2004
Keywords: Customer retention; Customer relations; Customer loyalty; Customer satisfaction; Service quality assurance
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