Relational benefits in services industries: The customer’s perspective

Abstract

This research examines the benefits customers receive as a result of engaging in long-term relational exchanges with service firms. Findings from two studies indicate that consumer relational benefits can be categorized into three distinct benefit types: confidence, social, and special treatment benefits. Confidence benefits are received more and rated as more important than the other relational benefits by consumers, followed by social and special treatment benefits, respectively. Responses segmented by type of service business show a consistent pattern with respect to customer rankings of benefit importance. Management implications for relational strategies and future research implications of the findings are discussed.

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Kevin P. Gwinner is an assistant professor of marketing in the School of Business at East Carolina University, North Carolina. His primary research interest centers on improving and managing the performance of frontline, customer-contact employees. His research has been published in theInternational Journal of Service Industry Management, International Marketing Review, and theJournal of Marketing Education.

Dwayne D. Gremler is an assistant professor of marketing in the College of Business and Economics at the University of Idaho. His current research interests are in services marketing, particularly customer loyalty and retention, relationship marketing, service encounters, and word-of-mouth communication. His work has been published in theInternational Journal of Service Industry Management, theJournal of Professional Services Marketing, andAdvances in Services Marketing and Management.

Mary Jo Bitner is a professor of marketing and the research director for the Center for Services Marketing and Management at Arizona State University. Her research focuses on customer evaluations of service, service quality, and service delivery issues. She has published in theJournal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Retailing, and theInternational Journal of Service Industry Management. She is coauthor of the textServices Marketing (McGraw-Hill, 1996).

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Gwinner, K.P., Gremler, D.D. & Bitner, M.J. Relational benefits in services industries: The customer’s perspective. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 26, 101 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1177/0092070398262002

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Keywords

  • Service Provider
  • Social Benefit
  • Relational Benefit
  • Service Firm
  • Service Encounter