The Impact of Consumers’ Perceptions of Relationship Quality on Key Relational Constructs

EXTENDED ABSTRACT - The concept of relationship quality has emerged as a central tenet in the relationship marketing literature (Smith, 1998). It is clear that relationship quality plays an important role in the effective management of customer relationships. In order for service managers to benefit fully from this knowledge, it is critical that they understand the interrelationships between the key determinants and outcomes of relationship quality. In a similar vein, Hennig-Thurau, Gwinner, and Gremler (2002) propose that a key goal in relationship marketing theory is the identification of key factors that influence important outcomes for the firm and a better understanding of the causal relationships between these determinants and outcomes. This study examines service quality and customer satisfaction as determinants of relationship quality, and the impact of relationship quality on key relational constructs (customer loyalty and customer commitment). Based on the literature, we develop hypotheses linking relationship quality, service quality, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer commitment.



Citation:

Amy Wong and Lianxi Zhou (2005) ,"The Impact of Consumers’ Perceptions of Relationship Quality on Key Relational Constructs", in AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, eds. Yong-Uon Ha and Youjae Yi, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 326-328.

Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6, 2005      Pages 326-328

THE IMPACT OF CONSUMERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF RELATIONSHIP QUALITY ON KEY RELATIONAL CONSTRUCTS

Amy Wong, Universitas 21 Global, Singapore

Lianxi Zhou, Lingnan University, Hong Kong

EXTENDED ABSTRACT -

The concept of relationship quality has emerged as a central tenet in the relationship marketing literature (Smith, 1998). It is clear that relationship quality plays an important role in the effective management of customer relationships. In order for service managers to benefit fully from this knowledge, it is critical that they understand the interrelationships between the key determinants and outcomes of relationship quality. In a similar vein, Hennig-Thurau, Gwinner, and Gremler (2002) propose that a key goal in relationship marketing theory is the identification of key factors that influence important outcomes for the firm and a better understanding of the causal relationships between these determinants and outcomes. This study examines service quality and customer satisfaction as determinants of relationship quality, and the impact of relationship quality on key relational constructs (customer loyalty and customer commitment). Based on the literature, we develop hypotheses linking relationship quality, service quality, customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, and customer commitment.

Three alternative models were compared and tested using empirical data collected in a consumer sample in a retail chain departmental store setting in Australia. In the baseline model, relationship quality is hypothesized to be indirectly determined by service quality through customer satisfaction, and the two key outcome constructs are primarily driven by relationship quality. The second model includes an additional path into the baseline model, that is, a direct effect of service quality on the focal constructBrelationship quality. Added to the second model are two more additional paths pertaining to the relationships between customer satisfaction and the two outcome constructs. This third model served as our full test model, which is the most comprehensive among the three.

The findings suggest that while all the three models are acceptable in terms of overall goodness-of-fit, the third model appears to have a higher degree of parsimony as suggested by the root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA). This implies that relationship quality is determined by both service quality and customer satisfaction, and that relationship quality partially mediates the impact of customer satisfaction on relational outcomes such as customer loyalty and customer commitment.

These findings have important theoretical and practical implications for the study of marketing relationships in a consumer service setting. First, relationship quality seems to be more conductive to a service organization’s success and long-term competitiveness. In the extant literature, customer satisfaction is often viewed as a central determinant of behavioral outcomes (Anderson and Fornell, 1994; Rust and Zahorik, 1993). Our results indicate that relationship quality is perhaps more action-oriented such that the behavioral implications of customer satisfaction can, in part, be achieved through established overall relationship quality. Thus, the cultivation of relationship quality in service contexts should be given considerable attention. Second, to cultivate relationship quality, our results suggest that satisfied customers are the key drivers yet customers’ perceptions of service quality can also have a direct impact. Therefore, managing customers’ perceptions of service quality can result in further strategic implications through its influence on the state of relationship quality. Finally, this study concludes with a discussion of a number of limitations and future research directions.

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Authors

Amy Wong, Universitas 21 Global, Singapore
Lianxi Zhou, Lingnan University, Hong Kong



Volume

AP - Asia Pacific Advances in Consumer Research Volume 6 | 2005



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