E-Customers Retention And Extension From A Positive Psychology Perspective In After-Sales Services

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Adding positive value on after-sales services increase customer satisfactionIf retailers understand customers wants and need beforehand they can provide best online experience, (Li and Zhang 2002) which can be gained by evaluating psychological state of consumers who shop online and by observing their behaviour and factors affecting it. We can always follow up on customers, keep information on customers for evaluating their shopping habits. (Lele and Karmarker 1983) suggested that customer can only obtain maximum value from the product if associated services of product are included in it. While (Goffin and New 2001) divided after-sales services into 7 main categories

  1. installation
  2. user-training

  3. documentation

  4. maintenance

  5. repair

  6. online support

  7. warranty and upgrades.

However recent studies suggest manufacturer moving toward product-service system (PSS), it contains range of services that enable customers to obtain maximum value from their product (Baines et al. 2009). (Tukker 2004) Divided PSS into three categories i) product-oriented ii) Use-oriented and iii) Result oriented. Product oriented system contained sale of product with some extra services added, with use-oriented product ownership stayed with the provider but the product was made available in different form or shared among users (e. g. lease, renting, pooling), while in result-oriented product client and provider would agree on a result such as pay-per-service unit (e. g. photocopy, self-service washing, cleaning service, etc. ). There is a positive correlation between after-sales services and customer satisfaction. Providing a good after-sales makes your customers believe that you are looking for a long-term relationship to earn the loyalty and keep your business (Maghsoudlou et al. 2014). Customer experience can be improved into positive experience if we are able to increase the performance of after-sales services. We can do so by adding the value and meaning into customers experience which can be achieve by many factors such as follow-up on customers, rewarding them for doing business with your company by providing discount and vouchers, upgrading their product and membership, respecting them and nurturing the relationship between the brand and the customer. This create the positive psychological impact upon customer for the brand.

Reducing issues on after-sales services increase customer satisfactionPreliminary finding suggests (Roos 1999, 2002) came up with the term situational and reactional triggers. In general, triggers are the factor or an event that changes the basis of relationship. Situational triggers changes customer evaluation of offering based on their lifestyle change or something affecting their life. For e. g. need to replace or remove a type of service or subscription with different one (Roos 1999). Reactional triggers are those critical incidents where the performance of something ordinary start to decline during, before or after purchase, which triggers customer attention to evaluate present position and put them into switching path (Roos 1999,2000). The word ‘care’ has been widely used while describing after-sales services, it includes activities related to maintenance and preventing maintenance (Koskela 2002). Customers relay on behaviour of service employee when evaluating the quality of service (Hennig-Thurau 2004). His finding suggested that especially employee’s social skill and their motivation to fulfil customer need exert a strong influence on satisfaction and commitment and therefore develops a stable relationship with customers. Employee’s social skills as the ability to take the customers perspective during interaction, which might be visually (i. e. what they see or perceive), cognitively (i. e. understanding customer thinking) and emotionally (i. e. what customer feels) (Flavell et al. 1968). Motivational dimension can be sub divided into 3 elements 1. Positive emotion of customer-orientated behaviour and the consequences associated with such behaviour.

Employee self-perception of being able to behave in customer-oriented way (Vroom 1967) and his/her expectation of reaching desired outcome through engaging in such behaviour (e. g. happy customer, rewards from employer). A satisfied employee with superior working environment is loyal to company and are able to provide excellent customer service experience (Chi and Gursoy 2009). Early research on new product development (NPD) has found that many new products fails, which has led to numerous investigations of factors that influence success and reduce the risk of failure (Calantone et al. 2006). In case of failure to deliver the positive customer experience we can always make up by resolving the issue of after math. Selling the product is just initial phase of customer journey of your brand. Nowadays customers are experiencing device/product failure within few days or months. The cause of the unrealisable product is due to highly competitive marketplace and growing number of middle class consumers demand, brands are unable to cope of with high volume within limited time frame, due to which they have to cut off the testing time for quality assurance, reliability and durability of the product. The only way to sort out the negative effect of the product experience is by providing exceptional after-sales services where you can resolve issue by repair, maintenance of the product and excellent customer service experience.

Customer Brand Awareness and Customer Satisfaction

What consumers are really looking for is satisfying experience rather than the product (Abbott 1955, p40). Normally consumer behaviours are affected either by intrinsic psychological factor such as perception, learning, attitude and personality or extrinsic factors such as culture, family, social status, demographic factors (Gillham et al. 2003). Consumer satisfaction doesn’t just reside on product purchased or brand choice or object owned but on consumption experiences associated with them (Holbrook and Hirschman 1982; Woodruff and Gardial 1996). Brand attachment is regarded as the strength of the bond connecting the consumer with the brand (Park et al. 2010). Brand experience according to (Brakus et al. 2009), refers to brand related stimuli that customer responses (sensation, feeling and cognitions) due to brand design and identity, packaging, communication and environment. Brand experience can be defined as perception of consumers at every moment of interaction such as brand image, project in ads, first personal contact, or level of quality they received (Alloza 2008). Experience is created when consumer use the brand, talk to other about the brand, seek out brand information, promotion, events, etc. (Ambler et al. 2002). Customer awareness narrates the pre-existing thoughts and experience of the brand by the customer. It might be customer old experience, the demo experience, something that they have heard from their friends or family or even the new marketing campaigns and ads that are appealing toward the brand.

Customer Brand Awareness and Trust

Brand awareness refers to the strength of brand node in memory i. e. how easy it is for consumer to remember the brand (Keller 1993). Further research suggested that beside attitude and purchase intention there are other variable such as customer delight, consumer loyalty, & word-of-mouth (Zarantonello & Schmitt 2010). WOM communication has strong effect on e-customers brand trust. As it spreads like a wildfire through the web, negative WOM communication generates e-complaining (Harrison-Walker, 2001) and damage brand trust in each customer. Recent studies found that consumer chat in e-service help perceived enjoyment and customer satisfaction (van Dolen and de Ruyter 2002). This awareness are the pre-existing experience and trust for the brand. Their might have experience the brand itself in the past and are switching back again. They are also ignited by the good words from others. H4: Customer brand awareness increase trust.

Customer Satisfaction and Trust

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Customer experience is holistic in natures and involves consumer’s cognitive, affective, emotional, social, physical responses to the retailers (Verhoef et al. 2009). While other (Brakus et al. 2009) concept of brand experience as subjective, internal consumer responses (sensations, feeling and cognitions) and behavioural response evoked by brand related stimuli. Brand experience has stronger effect on brand satisfaction rather than brand trust, however it does influence relationship with brand trust. This is due to the fact that customers are more likely to trust and be attached towards the brand if they are satisfied with the brand in the first place (Chinomona 2013).

Trust for the brand includes all the intangible activities, it can be symbol of quality and assurance in building trust (Keller 1993). A trustworthy brand is one that consistently delivers the value to consumer through the product lifecycle (development, production, selling, services and advertisement), and even during bad times of failure or some kind of crisis (Delgado et al. 2003; Doney and Cannon 1997; Ganesan 1994; Morgan and Hunt 1994). Increasing number of positive experiences increase customer brand familiarity and directly affect customer satisfaction (Ha and Perks 2005). Brand experience also significantly affect brand trust. Brand trust on web are develop due to following i) various brand experience and search information ii) high level of brand familiarity iii) customer satisfaction based on cognitive and emotional factors. All the factors greatly influence the relationship between customer and brand. Many pervious researchers have found that online brand trust is built through the mixture of familiarity, security, privacy, word-of-mouth, advertising and brand image (Chow and Holden, 1997; Delgodo-Ballester and Munuera-Alema ́n, 2001; Garbarino and Johnson, 1999; Hoffman et al. , 1998; Wernerfelt, 1991). Trust is generated when you have that long enough positive experience with the brand. That positive experience might be your own previous experience or WOM from others or awareness about the brand. For e. g. you don’t own a car (Toyota Corolla), but your significant other does, and you’ve been observing yourself and hearing about the reliability of the car. H5: Customer satisfaction increase customer trust

Trust and Customer Retention

If brand is able to provide pragmatic fulfilment in various ways, he/she is likely to buy product without further inspection. (Zarantonello & Schmitt 2010) found out that holistic customers have stronger relationship between attitude and purchase intention. The product must be manufactured according to customer need for them to buy. If the product is differentiated, it does increase the profit margin but declines acquisition and retention (Stahl et al. 2012). If customer is satisfied with the services, the feeling of achieving instrumental value and experience positive mood doesn’t make significate impact on their loyalty. Making sure customer achieve instrumental value and positive mood may stabilize the loyalty from falling down (De Ruyter & Bloemer 1999). Brand trust leads to brand loyalty or commitment because trust creates exchange relationship that are highly valued (Morgan and Hunt 1994). Indeed, commitment has been defined as “an enduring desire to maintain a valued relationship” (Moorman et al. 1992). Thus, loyalty or commitment underlies the ongoing process of continuing and maintaining a valued and important relationship that has been created by trust. The positive relationship of brand with its customer (i. e. commitment) tends to reflect the level of positive affect generated by that brand, which includes two aspects of close emotional relationship namely, the magnitude of affect (intensity) and its hedonic sign (positive/negative) (Chaudhuri and Holbrook 2001). Some other suggested that brand loyalty should be greater under condition of more positive emotional mood or effect i. e. brand that makes consumer ‘happy’, ‘joyful’, ‘affectionate’ should prompt greater purchase and attitudinal loyalty (Dick and Basu, 1994). There are three drivers for customer retention,

  1. Overall Customer Satisfaction,
  2. Affective Commitment and
  3. Calculative Commitment.

Calculative commitment is rational economical-based dependence on product benefits due to lack of choice or switching cost. Affective commitment is emotional, factor that develop through the degree of reciprocity or personal involvement that customer has with the company which ensures high level of trust and commitment (Garbarino and Johnson 1999; Morgan and Hunt 1994). But even if service is unsatisfied, loyalty can be ensured by achieving value object and good feeling during service delivery. Loyalty for utilitarian consumers can simply be achieve without the customer requirement of value attainment or positive mood. The first part of the finding contradicts with the framework as it states aftersales services are not the key element establishing loyalty while the later part where it says loyalty can also be ensured in case of unsatisfied service if only we are able to create positive mood and add value to customer experience. H6a: Brand’s trust increases customer retention.

Trust and Customer Extension

In order to secure future purchase, a brand with positive image must build positive relationship with consumer which includes cognitive and affective component (brand satisfaction and brand trust), which are key factor for current and future purchases (Esch et al. 2006). Previous experience with a brand has significant impact on brand choice for future purchases. Thus, attitude towards the brand are primarily set after first purchase (Sahin et al. 2011). In marketing term, loyalty is often referred as repeat purchase, preference, commitment and allegiance (Sahin et al. 2011). A customer who trust the brand is more willing to remain loyal to the brand, ready to buy new product under existing category or new category, is willing to pay premium price for it and even share some information about their taste, preference and behaviour (Chaudhuri and Holbrook, 2001), trusted brand is purchase more often. “What people really desire is not product but satisfying experience” (Abbot 1955, p. 40). The statement is somewhat misleading because without the satisfying product it’s not feasible to achieve satisfying experience. The above framework signifies that the product needs to have satisfying after-sales experience. The other suggest customer past experience (pre-purchase, purchase, post purchase) influence his or her current experience (Lemon and Verhoef 2016). Past experience plays a significate role in consumer future buying behaviour but if the post purchase (after-sale) issues are not rectified, which is last impression in customer experience than its difficult to bring them backs for further business as they are likely to seek alternatives. H6b: Brand’s trust increases customer extension.

Trust and Customer Acquisition

From the findings of (Anderson and Mittal 2000; Bolton et al. 2004; Heskett et al. 1994; Rust et al. 1995), Word-of-mouth is recognized as both a consequence of service quality/ customer satisfaction as an antecedent to revenue and profit due to new customer acquisition. Customer satisfaction affects WOM referral making, which in turn affect new customer acquisition. Group of highly involving customers such as market mavens, promoters, etc. are more likely to respond to satisfaction, with more WOM (Wangenheim and Bayón 2007). Impressed and experience consumer may help companies to generate positive WOM, brand trust and ultimately brand loyalty (Ha 2004). (Krishnamurthy 2001) argues that consumers on the Web are greatly interested in the associated messages. Indeed, (Ha 2002) has shown that internet users are interested in customized information offered by website. It can be said that customer-orientation relationship of customization will acquire new customer through WOM communication and retain existing customer and build customer loyalty (Ha 2004). A study conducted by Bernd H. Schmitt, suggest that consumer market is segmented based on their psychological experiences. The derived 5 different group of consumers that included

  1. Holistic consumers: are interested in all aspect of customer experience
  2. Utilitarian consumers: do not attach importance to brand experience.
  3. Hybrid consumers: also known as “hedonistic consumers” give importance to sensorial gratification.
  4. Action-oriented consumers: focus on action and behaviour.
  5. Inner-directed consumers: focus on inner process such as sensation, emotions, & thoughts (Zarantonello & Schmitt 2010).

There are different segments of consumer with very different sets of priority for their satisfying experience. To acquire trust from these different sets of new customers, we might have to customize according to their preference. For e. g. for utilitarian consumers we might need to have huge range of product like Amazon, eBay, AliBaba or inner-directed consumers might be influence by WOM from others. H7: Brand’s trust increases customer acquisition.

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