Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Development of a Scale for the Measurement of Internal Marketing in Service Firms

Academic journal article Academy of Marketing Studies Journal

The Development of a Scale for the Measurement of Internal Marketing in Service Firms

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Over the last thirty years, the concept of relationship marketing has managed to bridge the gap between academicians and managers. Bagozzi maintained that while marketing relationships are central to developing marketing theory, relationship marketing is the basis for marketing strategy (Gounaris et al., 2007; Bagozzi, 1995; Bagozzi, 1974). Research indicates the concept may be a win-win situation since long term customer relationships are not only beneficial for the firm but also for the customer (Gounaris, 2005; Gwinner et al., 1998; Sheth and Parvatiyar, 1995; Reichheld and Sasser, 1990). Indeed, devoting organizational resources to sustain relationships is one key to comparative advantage in the marketplace (Hunt and Morgan, 1995).

Taking a broad perspective, most examinations of relationship development issues tend to focus on the external customer. This study represents the first step in developing a scale that examines the internal customer perspective, in terms of the organizational inputs that support the efforts of personnel to obtain long term customer relationships. The results provide a measurement scale, directions for further research, and managerial implications for developing effective strategies that enable the internal customer. The research begins with a review and integration of the relationship literature.

CONCEPTUAL BACKGROUND

Relationship marketing has at its roots in the concept of relational, on-going exchanges as opposed to discrete, one-time exchanges (Bagozzi, 1974). For services, relationship marketing has been a naturally evolving strategy due to the customer involvement in the performance of the service and the direct interaction between customer and service provider/firm (Bloemer and Odekerden-Schroder, 2007).

Service firms typically use a combination of external, interactive and internal strategies to communicate with various constituents. The external marketing strategies are obviously directed at the customer. Gronroos (1983) describes the external marketing strategies as essentially the four Ps (service design, pricing, distribution and promotion). The communication of these strategies has been characterized as promises of service delivery outcomes, with the intention to change or encourage specific behaviors in current or potential customers. General concepts derived from the norms of reciprocity would suggest that promises generally represent specific rewards which are expected in return for patronage behavior (Bloemer and Odekerden-Schroder, 2007). Promises have been found to be particularly effective in influencing future patronage when the prospective customer has had little or no prior experience with the organization (Gounaris, 2005). Thus, the customer becomes dependent on the information provided in the promise in order to make their initial evaluations of the organization. Yet, customers that are currently patronizing a service entity will also utilize promises as a standard for developing expectations regarding ongoing service delivery (Smith, 2011, and San Martin and Camarero, 2005). Thus, for current customers, the longevity of the relationship will impact their reliance on promises, and their interpretation of those promises (Henneberg, 2005). Thus, the traditional marketing activities that set the initial stage of the relationship by getting the attention of the customer, setting an image of the company and setting customer expectations (Nasr et al., 2012).

Interactive marketing takes place between the customer and the employee(s) of the service firm (Gronroos, 1983). The strategies take place simultaneously with the delivery of the service. It is the point at which, not only is the service exchanged, but also value delivered. The "art of relationship marketing" takes place during the value delivery (Eid, 2007), which is key to effecting customer loyalty and increased profits (Jones and Taylor, 2007). …

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