As with all relationships, it is commonly agreed on that partners in business must have a high degree of commitment towards their relationship. If commitment is lacking, the relationship will soon come to an end. Affective commitment, that is commitment based on attraction between partners, is to be preferred over calculative commitment. The latter form of commitment is based on constant weighing of the benefits of a relationship with a partner against the costs of that relationship. Relationships based solely on calculative commitment are also most likely not to last for an extended time. This paper identifies theoretical antecedents and consequences of commitment in relationships in a services context. The results of an empirical study reveal that affective commitment is related to trust in the partner's honesty and benevolence, quality of the outcome of the service process, and customer satisfaction with the service being delivered. The quality of the service process has an indirect effect on affective commitment, as it is related to satisfaction. Furthermore, it is shown that affectively committed customers have a much stronger intention to stay in a relationship with a service provider than calculatively committed customers.
Services are processes, and hence service firms do not offer products that are comparable to preproduced bundles of physical resources and features that are provided by manufacturing companies. Instead the outcome of the process is an integral part of the service process which is consumed by customers as a solution to perceived problems. Thus the use of a service can be characterized as process consumption as opposed to outcome consumption, where only the outcome of a process is consumed or used. In the present article the marketing consequences of the process characteristics of services are analyzed and compared with the marketing of physical goods, which is characterized by outcome consumption. The most important difference is the fact that service firms do not offer preproduced products but processes as solutions to the problems of their customers. Because of the process nature of services, the fulfillment of promises given through external marketing is dependent on the attitudes and behavior of a large number of part-time marketers. Moreover, operational systems and physical resources in the service system have to be customer oriented. To increase the understanding of service processes as solutions to customers' problems and as objects of marketing, the present article proposes that the perceived service quality concept can provide a way to replace the missing product construct with a conceptual framework for planning a customer-oriented process. This is illustrated by a case study in an industrial service context.
Drawing on insights from the extant service-quality literature (which is dominated by an end-consumer focus), this paper examines customer service in business-to-business markets. It first presents a typology of seller-customer links and discusses the domain of customer service in business-to-business contexts. It then develops a research agenda by identifying a variety of issues pertaining to the scope, measurement, and potential impact of customer service in such contexts. It is hoped that this agenda will stimulate further discussion on the role of customer service in business and industrial marketing, and motivate much-needed research on this topic.
This article contributes to the marketing literature by identifying key success factors in industrial service markets. In industrial markets, services are becoming critical for the creation of competitive advantage. However, the marketing of these services has received relatively limited attention in the industrial marketing and services marketing literature. In order to close this gap, the authors undertook a qualitative research study to build a specific model of competitive advantage for industrial services. The model identifies three core elements in the creation of superior customer value. Further, three sets of "value drivers" are discussed. Ideas for further research and recommendations for business practitioners are formulated.
The purchase of business services is a growing activity among firms but with little appreciation that the purchase of a service requires a modification of the decision process developed for the purchase of material goods. A taxonomy for purchasing business services is developed to create a matrix with importance of service and focus of service as dimensions. Business services are classified according to their focus on three aspects of the firm: property, people, and process. A number of propositions are formulated based on insights derived from this taxonomy. The taxonomy results in six business service cells: facility support, equipment support, employee support, employee development, facilitator, and professional. Implications for managers considering a purchase in each category are explored. The paper concludes with a research agenda to test the propositions and validity of the taxonomy for purchasing business services.
Interorganizational information systems (IOS), the computer based communication between buyers and sellers, can improve inventory management and control as well as reduce costs for all participants. However, stable relationships have been found to be disturbed when IOS is implemented. The objective of this study is to refine our understanding of the differences in perceptions and expectations of benefits from developing IOS as well as changes in the relationship structure. Results support previous research that identified gaps in relationship satisfaction between buyers and sellers when IOS technology is implemented.
This article reports the results of a theoretically-based, empirical study which incorporates the paradigm of relationship marketing. Using a sample of organizational buyers, this study examines the influence of salesperson customer-oriented behavior on the development of buyer-seller relationships. Integral to this investigation, a measure of buyer-seller relationship development is generated and evaluated for its reliability and validity. Findings from this study indicate a strong and significant influence between the customer-oriented behavior of salespeople and the development of customer relationships. The results of this study and the discussion of the implications begin to provide valuable understanding into the antecedents of relationship development and relationship management. The results of this study and their implications for salespeople, managers, and researchers are discussed along with limitations and recommendations for future research.
An often overlooked aspect of service delivery in business-to-business settings is the issue of service quality among internal organizational units. Yet, in practice many organizational departments are service providers primarily to customers within the organization. For example, management information systems, human resources, and purchasing departments all share an important function supporting other employees as they perform their jobs. Managers of those internal service functions are becoming more concerned with delivering high levels of service quality to their internal customers. This article explores the dimensionality of customer service quality as perceived by a set of internal customers of an organizational buying unit, and examines the potential for segmentation of internal customers. Managerial implications and recommendations are presented to aid organizations desiring to improve internal service quality.
In this paper, the basic tenets of the European industrial networks research tradition are introduced. It is argued that the network approach offers a particularly powerful descriptive tool for analyzing contemporary interorganizational business exchange. The network approach is applied in a case study of a Finnish SME sector furniture manufacturer's focal net. The case study should be understood as an example of how the network approach can generate meaningful analyses and provide practical implications for capability development, marketing and purchasing, and strategy development.
The need for suppliers to carefully determine the form of customer relationship which is appropriate for their business is discussed. The experiences of two firms are considered, one of which is successful because it does not develop close relationships with its customers or its suppliers. The other each year applies a sophisticated classification scheme to determine what type of relationship will be most profitable. It makes this assessment on the basis of its understanding of each customer's needs and of the resources it has available to manage whatever types of relationship it considers appropriate.
Market leaders are constantly being forced to evaluate and modify their relationships and interactions with suppliers, buyers, and even competitors, in order to remain competitively viable in response to marketplace, technology, and competitive changes. Presents the Interdependency Cube framework which allows businesses to identify their current positions relative to their partners, and develop an understanding of what needs to be done in order to change their interdependency relationships. Real-world examples illustrate different cells within the framework and demonstrate how a company can simultaneously, and successfully, have different types of strategic interdependencies with a number of partners, depending on the environment in each case. Managers can learn how vigilance and flexibility are vital to a company's ability to change as its situation and circumstances change.
Despite the importance of professional services to organisations, relatively little is known about the way they are purchased. This study details the risks perceived and risk-reducing strategies employed by purchasers in local government and examines how these vary with buying-phase and buy-class. Risk varied little, but some of the 36 risk-reducing strategies identified varied across the buying phases and were more useful in the modified-rebuy situation. The results are discussed in the context of risk measurement and implications for purchasers and providers of professional services.
The make-up, structure, functioning and outputs of multi-person buying decision-making units, commonly referred to as "buying centers," have received substantial attention in the business marketing literature. Although most business buying decisions are non-static in nature, theorists and researchers have been hard pressed to effectively capture the dynamic nature of business buyers' decision-making processes. This paper presents a synthesis of recent buying center research and reports the findings of a study which attempted to capture "process effects" in buying center structure during the buying process. Study findings affirm the widely held belief that buying centers change over time and provide interesting insights regarding how these decision-making units change in structure and make-up over time. The resulting implications and caveats of these findings for business marketers are discussed.
A growing recognition of the critical differences between industrial and consumer services requires additional research emphasis on marketing of services in business-to-business context. Presents an application of SERVQUAL as a measure of service quality in Ocean Freight Services. Based on a cross-section sample of 114 business organizations in Singapore, which regularly utilize ocean freight services for their export needs, the study asked shipping lines for their heaviest used export routes and provide their overall evaluation of services provided by their preferred suppliers. Respondents also evaluated various interfacing departments in the shipping line and SERVQUAL measures on various service quality dimensions. This study identifies the various strengths and weaknesses of the interfacing departments as well as in-service quality determinants. Further, the relationships between overall line performance, service quality, as well as specific customer service interfacing departments are examined. The findings have important implications for shipping lines' marketing strategies. Though conducted in Singapore, the study is equally applicable to other Asian environments and NICs where many of the same lines are offering freight services to the exporting organizations.
In the previous decade several studies have appeared that touch upon the subject of inter-organisational strategic alliances (SA). Our knowledge on international SAs and the factors that govern these alliances is still limited. This paper will develop a model for the governance structure in international SAs. Based on a number of case studies, it is argued that three factors govern international SAs. These are relational, ethical and institutional factors. These three factors govern exchange in international SAs, contain opportunism and prevent defection from SAs.
Many manufacturers of high-involvement products who sell to other businesses know that relationship building is important to the success of the firm. However, these same companies may not know how to go about building a relationship with a client, or they may have tried and failed to build relationships with customers in the past. This paper provides an eight-step, expanded process of business-to-business relationship building. The process begins inside the organization and ends outside the organization with a commitment between buyer and seller to maintain a relationship over time. The process includes such activities as determining the congruence between the vendor's culture and strategy; activating a service-oriented culture that emphasizes internal, external and interactive marketing; bonding socially with the customer; and adding value to the relationship. Examples from focus group interviews conducted with mainframe computer buyers are provided.
Japanese corporate product development strategies are examined. Product development Japanese style is the dynamic and continuous process of adaptation to change in the environment. A background to the methods currently used, including the strategic role played by top management, self-organizing project teams, overlapping development phases and multi-learning, is provided. Strengths and weaknesses of Japanese industrial product development practices are related to the Japanese cultural heritage and the rationale for such practices explained in terms of the Japanese culture. Comments on future implications are made.
A cornerstone of relationship marketing is a shared understanding by suppliers and buyers about the nature of the relationship itself. This research empirically examines one aspect of this issue: whether internal work relationships between departments affect the expectations about cooperation that purchasing managers bring to their external supply relationships. The results suggest that buyers do attribute internal firm attitudes or norms to their external supply relationships. In firms characterized by cooperative inter-departmental interaction, buyers have a more cooperative orientation towards their supply relationships than do buyers in firms characterized by competitive inter-departmental interaction.
Export grouping schemes are a commonly used vehicle for promoting international competitiveness, but their success rate is patchy. A perennial problem is the value of continuing the formal group structure itself. In this paper we examine the nature and role of export groups using the results from two in-depth Australian case studies. The focus of analysis is on export groups as structuring devices rather than structures. They are viewed as action learning exercises in which knowledge and resource creating and self-organizing processes are nurtured, these processes in turn shaping the evolution of interfirm relations and networks. Building on earlier work by Wilkinson and Young the dance metaphor is extended to depict and analyze export groups as dance parties. Dance themes are used to illustrate and dramatize issues arising in the design, development and evaluation of export grouping schemes and are related to the real experience of the two case studies examined.
Buying center literature assumes that users are part of the purchase process. This study examines that assumption by exploring the role of the user in the purchase. Because purchases are made within the context of the history of previous purchases, understanding process satisfaction may be as important as satisfaction with the product. Therefore, this study also examines user satisfaction with the product and purchase process. Findings indicate that not all users participate, and those who do achieve little individual influence. Collectively, though, users are important in the early stages of the decision. There was, however, no differences in satisfaction between users and non-users with either process or product. Implications include focusing on users to get decision processes started.