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The relationship between service quality and customer loyalty, and its influence on business model design - A study in the dutch automotive industry

Es, R.A.J. van (2012) The relationship between service quality and customer loyalty, and its influence on business model design - A study in the dutch automotive industry.

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Abstract:This research is focusing on a customer loyalty problem of a wholesaler in car materials and accessories. The company Koskamp B.V. sells car materials and accessories to garages in the Dutch business-to-business automotive industry. Like other wholesalers, Koskamp has to deal with the threat of cheap Internet companies and the growing power of buyers due the Internet technology. Koskamp wants to create a loyal customer relationship without decreasing their prices. Some reputable journals presented scientific evidence about positive relationship between service quality, customer loyalty and customer loyalty. However, most of these results are conducted in different business-to-consumer industries. This study fill in the theoretical gap by testing these relationships in the industry mentioned above. Besides, it gains managerial relevance by answering the follwoing research question for Koskamp: ‘To what extent does service quality influence a loyal customer relationship and how does Koskamp have to change their business model in order to increase customer loyalty?’ Service quality is made measurable by using the SERVQUAL model of Parasuraman et al (1988). Customer loyalty is made measurable using the model of Dick and Basu (1994). Both models have been proven in previous research studies, supported by a high reliability and validity. Within several workshops the construct service quality (15 indicators, Cronbach’s α = 0.95), customer satisfaction (5 indicators, Cronbach’s α = 0.83) and customer loyalty (4 indicators, Cronbach’s α = 0.914) are made measureable for this specific industry. Eventually 114 respondents filled in an online questionnaire about actual service quality of, satisfaction about and loyalty towards a current wholesaler. Statistical analysis of questionnaire confirms the following relationships:  There is a positive relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction within the Dutch automotive parts industry (r = 0.912).  There is a positive relationship between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty within the Dutch automotive parts industry (r = 0.921).  There is a positive relationship between service quality and customer loyalty within the Dutch automotive parts industry (r = 0.943).  There is no direct positive relationship between service quality and customer loyalty which exist due the influence of customer statisfaction. The statistical analysis of the questionnaire indicates that wholesalers have the opportunity to create loyal and satisfied customers by delivering high service quality. Research about the judgment of service quality indicates that service quality dimensions are often intangible and they cannot be examined with the senses (Cavana et al, 2007; Parasuraman et al, 1988; Fogli, 2006, Chao & Kao, 2009). The most logical reference to judge service quality is using the customer expectations. Therefore, the same 114 respondents filled in questions about expected service quality. Analysis of this expected service quality show that both universal and dealer garage do expect a high level of service quality. With respect to the main objective of Koskamp, which is increasing customer loyalty, the correlations of the five service quality dimensions with 4 customer loyalty are calculated. Tangibles (r = 0.736) and Assurance (r = 0.799) have the lowest correlation with customer loyalty. Empathy (r = 0.882), Responsiveness (r = 0.894) and Reliability (r = 0.903) are highly positive related to customer loyalty. Between 77% and 82% of the variability in customer loyalty is explained by these three dimensions. The current business model of Koskamp is reviewed by the business model theory of Osterwalder and Pigneur (2010). Koskamp should continue with their concept of fast supply of products. Within two (or one) hour(s) a wide product range can be delivered to customers. This ensures a high level of reliability and responsiveness, as garages expect. Within the current business model of Koskamp there is a lack of paying real individual attention to each single customer. A lot of customers are only visited on request. But results of this study show that garages do expect attention of Koskamp. A solution for this problem is the IREL. The newly developed program IREL can play an important role in providing more empathy to customers. IREL is a customer information program which allows sales representatives to have a better customer oriented work approach. The program calculates in which product group a garage has the most potential for Koskamp. This insight can be shared with the garage owner as part of individual attention. Together with the customers, sales representatives can provide business model improvements for them. Furthermore sales representatives can track and discuss ongoing actions and capture special notes. To provide this empathy, Koskamp need to contract new sales representatives. In order to visit more customers, new sales representatives are needed. In addition to their current tasks, sales representatives should visit customers more frequent and gain response of expected and delivered service quality. Koskamp should monitor this feedback and if necessary improve their business model. The new value proposition design focuses includes providing more personal attention to customers. Therefore, there are some changes in key resources and key activities. A new key resource of Koskamp is the IREL program. As stated before, this program is the solution to pay more individual attention to customers. Therefore it needs to be continually updated. Visiting more customers, provide more individual attention (knowledge) to customers and gain more response of Koskamps performances are new key activities. Therefore, it is interesting to take a look at several consulting methods. Hicks (2010) stated that there are different ways to transfer skills and provide expertise. ‘Important is to give solutions to problems of garages in such a way garages feel confidential’ (Hick, 2010, p. 156). This is an interesting field for further research. Key partners of Koskamp stay their own suppliers which keep their inventory and delivery system intact. In conclusion, Koskamp needs to focus on providing a more personal oriented customer approach. Paying individual attention is the missing link within the current business model of Koskamp. Of course, focusing on visiting more customers and paying more attention to them will lead to more wages. But, results of this study show that customers expect this individual attention. Besides, the results show that a high service quality is positively correlated with customer loyalty. In this context, increasing labor costs should be seen as an investment in customer loyalty.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Koskamp B.V.
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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