A model of relationship commitment for a consumer service with low monetary switching cost

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Wonosoebekti, Indriati
Department of Management
thesis / dissertation description
Relationship marketing has become the focus of both academic researchers and practising marketers in recent times. Customer commitment is one of the most favourable outcomes of relationship marketing. Although there has been much research investigating the antecedents of relationship commitment, research to date has almost exclusively concentrated in a business-to-business setting. However, almost no attention has been paid either developing or testing a model of relationship commitment in a consumer service industry context. The primary purpose of this research is to develop and empirically test a theoretical model of relationship commitment within the context of a buyerseller relationship framework, in a consumer service industry. In particular, the research context examines a low monetary switching costs service (i.e., travel agency services). This research examined the simultaneous impact of salesperson expertise, perceived performance (service outcome), length of patronage, and relationship quality (relationship satisfaction and trust) on relationship commitment, in a causal path framework. The impact of three moderator variables (psychological switching costs, alternative attractiveness, and relationship motives) on the linkage between relationship quality and relationship commitment was also tested in this research. The data used to test the path model was obtained from a cross-sectional survey of 265 travel agency customers. Three statistically significant antecedent variables (length of patronage, trust and relationship satisfaction) explained 60 percent of the variance in relationship commitment. When both direct and indirect effects are accounted for, relationship satisfaction had the greatest overall impact on relationship commitment, closely followed by salesperson expertise. Trust and perceived performance (service outcome) also have a significant impact on relationship commitment. Length of patronage, unexpectedly had a direct impact on relationship commitment. Psychological switching cost was not found to have a moderator impact. Alternative attractiveness was found to moderate only the linkage between trust and relationship commitment. Relationship motives was found to comprise two dimensions (i.e., emotional motive and rational motive). Only the emotional motive dimension was found to have a statistically significant moderator impact. This findings considerably add to our understanding of the long-term relationship between buyer and seller, for consumer services in general and low monetary switching costs services in particular. Further, the findings further have significant implications for business managers.