Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

The Impact of Quality and Emotions in Customer Satisfaction

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship

The Impact of Quality and Emotions in Customer Satisfaction

Article excerpt

Introduction

Customer satisfaction has been widely recognized as a source of competitive advantage and organizational success. Researchers established that customer emotions constitute an essential element of satisfaction construct (Oliver & Westbrook, 1993; Cronin, Brady, & Huit, 2000; Barsky & Nash, 2002). The acknowledgement of the central role of emotions in a consumption process results from discontent with previously adopted, predominantly cognitive explanations of customer satisfaction (Liljander & Strandvik, 1997; Bagozzi, Gopinath, & Nyer, 1999; Oliver, 2010). The complex relationship between cognitive appraisals, affective responses and satisfaction warrants further analysis. The present study seeks to explore the linkages between quality, emotions, and satisfaction in the consumption process. Its primary goal is to confirm and advance results of the previous study (Meirovich & Bahnan, 2008) which introduced two dimensions of quality that were not used in the field of customer emotions and satisfaction before - quality of design and quality of conformance. We endeavor to reach a more comprehensive understanding of the relationship between these quality dimensions and customer emotions and satisfaction. Its secondary goal is to establish whether emotions play a mediating role between product/service quality and customer satisfaction. Consensus on the importance of affect does not preclude differences, and there is a lively debate concerning the direction of relationships between cognitive appraisals (such as quality), emotions and satisfaction as well as the nature and relative influence of various cognitive appraisals. Following the school of thought that cognition precedes emotions (Nyer, 1997; Bagozzi et al., 1999; Ruth, Brunei, & Otnes, 2002; Bigne, Mattila, & Andreu, 2008) it is plausible to maintain that quality appraisal leads to emotions. Oliver (1993), Price, Arnould and Tierney (1995) and Dube and Menon (2000) maintained that consumers' emotions mediate the link between a provider's performance and their satisfaction. Performance was found to be closely related to quality (Oliver, 1994; Lee, Lee, & Yoo, 2000) and can be viewed as a proxy for quality. Henceforth, this line of thinking leads to the conclusion that emotions are derived from quality judgments. Gracia, Bakker, and Grau (201 1), applying the cognitive-affective-conative model developed by McCain, Jang, and Hu (2005), found that consumer emotions in the hotel industry follow cognitive evaluations of service quality and partially mediate the relationship between quality and customer loyalty.

In contrast, other authors argued that emotions influence or precede quality perceptions (Compeau, Grewal, & Monroe, 1998; Jiang & Wang, 2006; White, 2010). In addition, other authors proposed a perspective that can be seen as middle ground, or a hybrid view, according to which in an experiential context - when the goal of consumption is pleasure - consumption emotions result not only from performance of a product but also from affective expectations (Phillips & Baumgartner, 2002).

There are also different viewpoints among researchers with regards to the nature of the impact that affect has on customer satisfaction. Lee, Comer, Dubinsky, and Schäfer (201 1) found that customer positive and negative emotions influence relationship satisfaction with sales personnel. As mentioned, a number of studies maintain that emotions mediate between performance and satisfaction. Others argue that performance and emotions impact satisfaction independently and simultaneously (Liljander & Strandvik, 1997). Still another option is to regard emotions as an indispensable dimension of the satisfaction construct along with the cognitive dimension. For instance, Martin, O'Neill and Hubbard and Palmer (2008) suggest incorporating the construct of emotionally-based satisfaction, which is one of the core components of overall customer satisfaction. …

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