Retaining customers through relationship quality: A services business marketing case

Genevieve Catherine Myhal, Jikyeong Kang, John A. Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - This paper seeks to explore customer-perceived relationship quality in a B2B setting, and to propose a conceptual model for this construct. Design/methodology/approach - An instrumental single case study design is adopted, and Eisenhardt's case study method for theory development is used to collect and analyse data from 55 different customer companies. Findings - The research identifies a list of 208 components that are important to customers' relationship quality perceptions. These are grouped into seven parsimonious dimensions, which are assembled into a conceptual model. The IMP Group's relationship substance framework, composed of actor bonds, resource ties and activity links is built upon and expanded by adding four new dimensions: competitive position, external association, relationship impact, and situational factors. Together, these dimensions successfully encapsulate the items that customers within this study identify as important when evaluating the quality of their relationships with their service provider. Research limitations/implications - Though the case study design used potentially limits the generalisability of findings, it is believed that the proposed model does have a wider resonance in terms of helping both academics and practitioners to understand relationship quality. Practical implications - Because customer relationships (and the benefits derived from them) are difficult to duplicate, these may be a source of competitive advantage for firms. Managing these relationships, as well as their quality, emerges as a point of competitive distinction. Originality/value - To one's knowledge, there is no published paper that provides a conceptual model of relationship quality using the customer's perspective in a B2B setting. It is believed that the research makes a significant contribution in terms of filling this gap in the knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-453
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Case studies
  • Customer relations
  • Customer service management


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