The Influence of Relationship Efforts on Relationship Outcomes in a High Contact Service Environment
Keywords:relationship efforts, relationship outcomes, bonds, trust, commitment.
While business is experiencing a period of great changes and clients’ expectations and preferences are shifting, service organizations are induced to search for exceptional sources of value to clients’ creation. Increasingly it is recognized that long term relationships with clients are becoming the source of unique value in today’s highly competitive markets.This article analyses relationship efforts made by an organization and a client, reveals their links with relationship outcomes. Having generalized the analysis of the concept of relationship, it is stated that long-term relationships develop through repeated interactions between a client and an organization, during which both parties make certain relationship efforts, resulting in the formation of a bundle of bonds that reflect the nature of relationship. Considering the imperatives of the latest marketing theories, recognizing that the focus in marketing has moved from an exchange of the tangible value to one that increasingly includes the intangible value (Vargo & Lusch, 2004), various forms of relationship efforts made by organization are grouped into tangible and intangible relationship effort categories. In the line with the new dominant logic of marketing stating that there should be a focus on clients as active participants’ client relationship efforts as a separate construct is distinguished in this article. Acknowledging the importance of extended understanding of relationship outcomes, which take the form of various attitudinal concepts (trust, commitment, attachment), a distinction between positive and negative bonds, is made. It could be reasonably stated that the sector of sport and health clubs enables to reveal the mentioned aspects which are in the focus of this article.This paper integrates theories of organizations’ resources (Vargo & Lusch 2004) and clients’ resources (Arnould et al., 2006) by exploring the emotional aspects of relationships (the aspects of client involvement, client–to-client interactions), and testing the links between relationship efforts and relationship outcomes.The hypothesis tested in this article confirms that intangible relationship efforts as compared with tangible ones have a stronger impact on positive bonds, whereas tangible relationship efforts besides the impact on positive bonds have also a link with negative bonds. The ascertained relation between client relationship efforts and positive bonds proves the importance of active client role in developing meaningful long-term relationships.However, we advance existing literature and extend previous research by demonstrating that, depending on the type of relationship efforts examined, the magnitude of the effects of relationship outcome structure differs.