The impact of attribute satisfaction on overall satisfaction, attitudinal loyalty and behavioral loyalty
Retaining customers remains a topic of great interest to business-to-business service providers as companies transition from a mode of growth characterized by acquisition and mergers and industry consolidation, to a mode of growth characterized by organic growth. Many companies attempt to develop loyalty through improved customer service and satisfaction of key service attributes. This is particularly the case in the healthcare industry.
Despite the prevalence of satisfaction and loyalty as drivers of customer retention, little progress has been made in conceptualizing and testing frameworks that can explain the impact of satisfaction on behavioral loyalty in business-to-business relationships. In particular, many studies have reviewed the impact of satisfaction on attitudinal loyalty. However, few studies have attempted to empirically test the consequences of satisfaction on behavioral loyalty.
This study empirically examines the attitudinal and behavioral consequences of satisfaction. A baseline framework was established. Mediating influences were introduced to improve the explanatory power of the proposed nomological structure. In addition a scale was developed from focus groups and factor analysis that measured the key domains of satisfaction in the particular industry. Finally, the use of structural equation modeling permitted the simultaneous measurement validation of the satisfaction instrument and the statistical validity of the moderating effects of variables from goodness-of-fit indices.
The findings of the study show that the link between attribute satisfaction, overall satisfaction and attitudinal satisfaction is real. Satisfaction matters in that it is an important antecedent of attitudinal loyalty. However, the link between attitudinal loyalty and behavioral loyalty is weaker than anticipated given the extensive literature research. Future research needs to shed more light on the reasons for this lack of strength in the correlation between two key dependent variables of consumer and buyer behavior.