Remote Channel Customer Contact Strategies for Complaint Update Messages

Remote Channel Customer Contact Strategies for Complaint Update Messages

Gary Douglas (University of Edinburgh, UK), Hazel Morton (University of Edinburgh, UK) and Mervyn Jack (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/jthi.2012040103
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This research focuses on the preservation and repairing of relationships once a banking customer has raised a complaint. This research investigates the impact of different messaging channels (email, Internet banking site messages, SMS text messages, and messages on the ATM screen) and the impact of different styles of complaint update messages on customers’ perceptions of their relationship with their bank. The empirical research is conducted on a sample of 96 banking customers. Quantitative data are collected to examine the impact of the banking channel and the update message style on customers’ perceptions of their relationship with the bank. The results indicate that update messages are a reassurance tool for the bank to use for customers who had cause to raise a complaint. The preferred channels of communication with the customer base for update messages are email and Internet banking. Also, customer-brand relationship was found to be higher for complaint-specific content in the messages than for generic messages.
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Conceptual Foundations

The Brand as an Active Relationship Partner

A fundamental change in the ideology of the retail banking sector has occurred in recent years (Christopher, Payne, & Ballantyne, 1994). Instead of focusing on account-based and transaction-based services, banks are beginning to orientate themselves towards relationships with their customers (Harden, 2002). The term ‘relationship’ is used in everyday language to define a connection or association between two or more people or things. In terms of relationship marketing it has been defined as “attracting, maintaining and….enhancing customer relationships” (Berry, 1983, p. 25).

The brand-as-a-relationship concept has primarily focused on how consumers differ not only in how they perceive brands but also how they relate to brands (Fournier, Dobscha, & Mick, 1998). Such ideas use interpersonal relationship theory to formulate a framework for understanding and extending the concept of brand personality; the brand is treated as “an active, contributing partner in the dyadic relationship that exists between the persona and the brand” (Aaker & Fournier, 1995, p. 393).

In the context of service relationships, consumers’ decisions about maintaining a relationship are largely influenced by their emotional and affective bonds with the service provider (Oliver, 1999; Shemwell, Cronin, & Bullard, 1994). In order to behave in an active way, the brand must perform in a reciprocal manner and integrated marketing actions and communications can serve as a means of the brand in fulfilling its reciprocal role with the customer. Tactical considerations of how the brand should be communicated include the notion that decisions are required not only on advertising but packaging, promotions and the style of personal interactions between the customer and the brand (Aaker, 1996).

On this a basis, it is not unreasonable to postulate that the customer’s perception of the brand as an active relationship partner might be evaluated in terms of the traits that are inferred by the brand’s perceived behaviour and actions, to include marketing decisions that are made such as advertising, the tone of correspondence with the customer and the way in which service failures are dealt with.

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