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Title: The effect of customer relational benefits on value perceptions in services
Authors: Lai, Yin-hung
Degree: M.Phil.
Issue Date: 2002
Abstract: As competition intensifies, products and services become more homogeneous and the market matures making it difficult for firms to differentiate and compete effectively. As a result, firms are forced to seek other ways to compete. An effective competitive tool in marketing practice is to endure in a relationship with the customers. The relationship between the firm and its customers enables firms to differentiate from its competitors since the relationship is unique and difficult to duplicate. Also, advances in technology have enabled firms to understand and target its customers more effectively by providing services that are tailored to the customer needs. Therefore, benefits of engaging in a relationship from the firms perspective is to gain a more competitive advantage. The effect of relationship marketing between the firm and the customer is receiving more attention in marketing and for a relationship to exist, both the firm and the customer must benefit. However, research has focused primarily on the relational benefits from the firm's perspective and research is still needed from the customer's perspective. From the customer's perspective, three distinct types of relational benefits have been identified, confidence, social, and special treatment benefits. Confidence benefits are psychological benefits customers receive that indicate that there is often comfort or feeling of security. Social benefits are the result of some kind of association with the employees and special treatment benefits are benefits customers receive that are not normally available to customers. The aim of this study was to examine the direct and indirect effects of the dimensions of perceived relational benefits on consumers' perceptions of service value and purchase intention. The indirect effects of perceived relational benefits on consumers' perceptions of service value and purchase intention was examined by incorporating consumers' perceptions of price and reference price into the study. Perceived service quality was also incorporated into this study and was considered to act as a mediating variable between perceived price and perceived service value. Analysis of the data comprised of two main techniques, exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modelling. Exploratory factor analysis was employed to serve as a data reduction technique and the reliability of the scale was assessed using Cronbach's alpha coefficient test. Structural equation modelling was employed using the two step approach recommended by Anderson and Gerbing (1988). For each measurement model the reliability and validity were assessed and for the overall structural model the individual paths were assessed. The findings of this study revealed that not all types relational benefits are relevant in influencing consumers' perceptions of service value. Social benefits were found to be the only significant relational benefit that has a direct effect on consumers' perceptions of service value. As for the indirect effect, social and special treatment benefits were found to have a significant indirect effect on consumers' perception of service value. Confidence benefits were found to be insignificant in both direct and indirect effects on consumers' perception of service value. The findings also indicated that perceived service quality is insignificant in the study. The findings have both academic and managerial implications. Academically, the study has extended the extant relationship marketing and pricing literature by examining the direct and indirect effects of perceived relational benefits on consumers' perceptions of service value and purchase intention. However, this study only provides some introductory insights of this research area and the results are still preliminary. Thus, more research is needed to understand the importance of the different relational benefits. Managerially, it is important for service marketers to be aware of the importance of relational benefits customer receives as the outcome of positive relationships may result in customer loyalty, positive word of mouth, relationship continuance, and customer satisfaction. In addition, relational benefits may be used as a means of differentiating amongst competitors and social benefits is particularly useful as a differentiation strategy because it is difficult to replicate.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Service industries -- Marketing
Customer services
Customer relations
Pages: 151 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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