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Customer win-back: the role of attributions and perceptions in customers’ willingness to return

Abstract

Interest in customer reacquisition has increased as firms embrace the concept of customer relationship management. Using survey and transactional data from defected subscribers of a publishing company, we investigate how defected customers evaluate their propensity to return to the company prior to any win-back offer. We introduce a new variable for relationship marketing, general willingness to return (GWR), and show that it is strongly and positively related to the actual return decision and the duration of the restarted relationship. Combining attribution theory elements with existing win-back explanations, which focus on economic, social, and emotional value perceptions, provides a more comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence the GWR to a former relationship. Importantly, we learn that regardless of whose fault it is, if the reasons for the relationship termination can change or are preventable and the firm can control those changes, then the defected customer has a higher general willingness to return to the former relationship. Also, we show that the duration of time absence before relationship revival moderates the impact of GWR on second relationship duration. Furthermore, we demonstrate that satisfaction prior to defection and the length of time absence provide a reasonable basis for distinguishing defected customers who differ in their GWR. By applying our findings, we derive recommendations for firms on how to position marketing communications to recapture defected customers according to their general willingness to return.

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Correspondence to Manfred Krafft.

Appendix

Appendix

Table 6 Measurement items (1 = ‘I do not agree at all’ to 7 = ‘I fully agree’; r = reverse coded)

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Pick, D., Thomas, J.S., Tillmanns, S. et al. Customer win-back: the role of attributions and perceptions in customers’ willingness to return. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 44, 218–240 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-015-0453-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11747-015-0453-6

Keywords

  • Customer relationship management
  • Relationship revival
  • Consumer attributions