Relationship quality as a predictor of B2B customer loyalty

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Journal Article
Journal of Business Research, 2007, 60 (1), pp. 21 - 31
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This study aims to provide a picture of how relationship quality can influence customer loyalty in the business-to-business (B2B) context. Building on prior research, we propose relationship quality as a higher construct comprising trust, commitment, satisfaction and service quality. We believe that these dimensions of relationship quality can reasonably explain the influence of overall relationship quality on customer loyalty. In addition, this study provides more insightful explanations of the influence of relationship quality on customer loyalty through two levels of relationship quality: relationship quality with employees of the supplier and relationship quality with the supplier itself as a whole. Aiming to fully explain the concept of customer loyalty, we follow the composite loyalty approach providing both behavioral aspects (purchase intentions) and attitudinal loyalty. We seek to address three main research issues: Does relationship quality influence both aspects of customer loyalty? If so, which relationship quality dimensions influence each of the components of customer loyalty? And which level of relationship quality (employee level versus organizational level) has more influence on customer loyalty? This study uses the courier delivery service context in Australia and targets Australian Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We selected mail survey and online survey as the two methods of data collection, and together they received 306 usable respondents. Structural equation modeling yields insights into the influence of the dimensions and levels of relationship quality on customer loyalty. Results show that all four dimensions of relationship quality influence attitudinal loyalty, however, only satisfaction and perceived service quality influence behavioral loyalty (purchase intentions). Most remarkably, results indicate that only the organizational level of relationship quality influences customer loyalty. The employee level of relationship quality does not play a significant in influencing B2B customer loyalty in this study. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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