How Contextual Variables Moderate The Effects of Drivers of Customer Satisfaction with The Channel Experience
Professor Ruth BOLTON
Department of Marketing
W. P. Carey School of Business
Arizona State University
Retailers face significant challenges in delivering consistently excellent service across different channels, such as store, catalog, internet and telephone. These challenges are exacerbated for firms operating in many countries and regions. To understand and manage the customer experience within and across service channels, managers need to know (1) which ingredients make an important contribution to satisfaction with the channel experience and (2) how well the organization is performing for that ingredient. However, the answer to these questions will depend on the context. Specifically, what is the purpose of the visit (browse, buy etc.), the nature of the channel (store, website, catalog or other), and market factors (country, brand, and consumer characteristics). The purpose of this research is to answer managerial questions such as the following: “Is ease of use or product appeal important for customers from a particular market segment who are shopping in a given channel and country?” Also, it should tell us: “What is it about the context that makes this ingredient important?” For example, perhaps “providing all information” is very important for customers with the goal of purchasing on this visit, who are shopping online, and who reside in countries with a high uncertainty avoidance index.
Our empirical work analyzes the customer records of a global retailer operating more than 400 stores — plus internet, catalog and other channels – in 42 countries. We develop and estimate a model of customer satisfaction with the channel experience in two stages. In the first stage, we estimate an equation to describe the antecedents of customer satisfaction with the channel experience – with a separate equation for each shopping purpose in each channel and in each market. In the second stage, we develop and estimate a model of how customers’ importance weights for specific satisfaction drivers vary across equations depending on the service/shopping context, channel and market. In this presentation, we will describe our preliminary empirical results and offer some possible theoretical explanations.