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Why indirect customers deserve managers' attention: a quantitative and qualitative study on indirect customer engagement behavior

Katrien Verleye UGent, Paul Gemmel UGent and Deva Rangarajan (2011) 12th annual international research symposium on service excellence in management, Abstracts.
abstract
Researchers and practitioners increasingly recognize the importance of customer engagement behaviors, (CEBs) defined as voluntary, discretionary, helpful behaviors after and beyond purchase. Consider, for instance, software providers benefiting from customers helping each other in user forums and the hospitality industry benefitting from customer reviews. While previous research has mainly focused on customers who purchase goods and services (direct customers), few researchers have attended to engagement behaviors of people who do not purchase the goods/services but only accompany the direct customers (indirect customers). These behaviors are labeled as indirect customer engagement behavior (iCEB). In this study, we will focus on the engagement behaviors of family members (indirect customers) of nursing home residents (direct customers). Based on exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis of survey data from a sample of family members (n=160) and a sample of frontline employees (n=141), four types of iCEB were identified: indirect customers cooperating with frontline employees, indirect customers giving feedback about how to improve the service delivery, indirect customers spreading positive word-of-mouth, and indirect customers helping other customers. Further analysis revealed that some indirect customers are highly engaged in different types of iCEB, while others are not. Indirect customers who are not highly engaged in different iCEB types were found to be less socialized and less satisfied than highly engaged customers. From May 2010 until July 2010, follow-up case studies were conducted to gain insight into (1) the factors that determine the behaviors of indirect customers, and (2) the impact of the indirect customers’ behaviors on the frontline employees in nursing homes. In a large public and a large private nursing home, data were gathered through document-analyses, observations, and interviews. Pattern-matching of the data with theoretical propositions based on social exchange theory and role stress theory revealed that different tactics are used to socialize and support indirect customers (e.g., brochures, websites, information sessions, guided tours, and meetings). A key finding is that the frontline employee is crucial for indirect customer socialization and support. The conditions under which frontline employees have a positive and negative impact on the indirect customers and vice versa are discussed. The results highlight the importance of (1) paying attention to indirect customers, and (2) supporting frontline employees to fulfill their boundary-spanning roles among direct customers, indirect customers, and the nursing home’s management. Managerial implications for companies dealing with direct and indirect customers are discussed, as well as future research opportunities.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
keyword
nursing homes, customer engagement behavior, role theory, social exchange theory
in
12th annual international research symposium on service excellence in management, Abstracts
conference name
12th Annual International Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management (QUIS12 - 2011)
conference location
Ithaca, NY, USA
conference start
2011-06-02
conference end
2011-06-05
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C3
id
2036015
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-2036015
date created
2012-02-16 16:16:55
date last changed
2015-01-27 15:18:42
@inproceedings{2036015,
  abstract     = {Researchers and practitioners increasingly recognize the importance of customer engagement behaviors, (CEBs) defined as voluntary, discretionary, helpful behaviors after and beyond purchase. Consider, for instance,  software providers benefiting from customers helping each other in user forums and the hospitality industry benefitting from customer reviews. While previous research has mainly focused on customers who purchase goods and services (direct customers), few researchers have attended to engagement behaviors of people who do not purchase the goods/services but only accompany the direct customers (indirect customers). These behaviors are labeled as indirect customer engagement behavior (iCEB). In this study,  we will focus on the engagement behaviors of family members (indirect customers) of nursing home residents (direct customers). Based on exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis of survey data from a sample of family members (n=160) and a sample of frontline employees (n=141), four types of iCEB were identified: indirect customers cooperating with frontline employees, indirect customers giving feedback about how to improve the service delivery, indirect customers spreading positive word-of-mouth, and indirect customers helping other customers. Further analysis revealed that some indirect customers are highly engaged in different types of iCEB, while others are not. Indirect customers who are not highly engaged in different iCEB types were found to be less socialized and less satisfied than highly engaged customers. From May 2010 until July 2010, follow-up case studies were conducted to gain insight into (1) the factors that determine the behaviors of indirect customers, and (2) the impact of the indirect customers{\textquoteright} behaviors on the frontline employees in nursing homes. In a large public and a large private nursing home, data were gathered through document-analyses, observations, and interviews. Pattern-matching of the data with theoretical propositions based on social exchange theory and role stress theory revealed that different tactics are used to socialize and support indirect customers (e.g., brochures, websites, information sessions, guided tours, and meetings). A key finding is that the frontline employee is crucial for indirect customer socialization and support.  The conditions under which frontline employees have a positive and negative impact on the indirect customers and vice versa are discussed. The results highlight the importance of (1) paying attention to indirect customers, and (2) supporting frontline employees to fulfill their boundary-spanning roles among  direct customers, indirect customers, and the nursing home{\textquoteright}s management. Managerial implications for companies dealing with direct and indirect customers are discussed, as well as future research opportunities.},
  author       = {Verleye, Katrien and Gemmel, Paul and Rangarajan, Deva },
  booktitle    = {12th annual international research symposium on service excellence in management, Abstracts},
  keyword      = {nursing homes,customer engagement behavior,role theory,social exchange theory},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Ithaca, NY, USA},
  title        = {Why indirect customers deserve managers' attention: a quantitative and qualitative study on indirect customer engagement behavior},
  year         = {2011},
}

Chicago
Verleye, Katrien, Paul Gemmel, and Deva Rangarajan. 2011. “Why Indirect Customers Deserve Managers’ Attention: a Quantitative and Qualitative Study on Indirect Customer Engagement Behavior.” In 12th Annual International Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management, Abstracts.
APA
Verleye, Katrien, Gemmel, P., & Rangarajan, D. (2011). Why indirect customers deserve managers’ attention: a quantitative and qualitative study on indirect customer engagement behavior. 12th annual international research symposium on service excellence in management, Abstracts. Presented at the 12th Annual International Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management (QUIS12 - 2011).
Vancouver
1.
Verleye K, Gemmel P, Rangarajan D. Why indirect customers deserve managers’ attention: a quantitative and qualitative study on indirect customer engagement behavior. 12th annual international research symposium on service excellence in management, Abstracts. 2011.
MLA
Verleye, Katrien, Paul Gemmel, and Deva Rangarajan. “Why Indirect Customers Deserve Managers’ Attention: a Quantitative and Qualitative Study on Indirect Customer Engagement Behavior.” 12th Annual International Research Symposium on Service Excellence in Management, Abstracts. 2011. Print.