The management of long-term marketing relationships in business-to-business financial services
Thesis (PhD (Business Management))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.
Since relationship marketing re-emerged as an approach to marketing, the concept was met with a great deal of interest. This interest resulted in relationship marketing being researched extensively, whilst businesses started to look for ways to build relationships with their clients. Relationships with clients can, however, only be managed if the dimensions contributing to the relationship are adequately identified. From an academic viewpoint, once all the relevant dimensions have been identified, these dimensions can be used to construct a model that can guide the management of long-term marketing relationships. The aim of this study was to identify the dimensions that are important when longterm marketing relationships in business-to-business (B2B) financial services are managed. The study started with a comprehensive review of the marketing literature. The literature review was followed by two empirical studies. The first empirical study was conducted among relationship managers, while the second empirical study focused on both the relationship managers and clients of a leading South African financial services provider. Both the relationship managers as well as the clients were part of the afore-mentioned financial services provider’s B2B domain. Phase 1 of the empirical research (the exploratory study) focused on an assessment of the perceptions of 75 relationship managers in respect of the importance of a number of pre-determined dimensions. A web-based approach was used and a questionnaire was developed according to the requirements of the Analytic Hierarchical Process (AHP) method. Based on the literature review and the results of the exploratory study, a set of 11 dimensions emerged as important for the management of long-term relationships in B2B financial services. The second phase of the empirical research focused on the perceptions of both relationship managers (the relationship manager sample) and B2B clients (the client sample). In the case of the relationship manager sample, a web-based questionnaire was sent to 300 relationship managers, while 400 clients participated in the client study. Relationship manager data were analysed by means of regression analysis whereas the client data were analysed with the aid of Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). The LISREL 8.80 software program was used to fit both the measurement model and the SEM model. The results of the study confirmed the important roles of especially trust and commitment on a person’s intention to stay in a relationship. Furthermore, the study found that relationship managers and clients appear to view the process of relationship management as an intricate process. Although relationship managers and clients differ on the importance of some of the further dimensions, agreement existed for the importance of especially satisfaction and communication. It was also found that relationship managers appear to over-estimate their performance levels on some of the identified dimensions. The uniqueness of the study lies in the simultaneous consideration of the perceptions of both relationship managers and clients. The most important contribution of the study is the construction of a model through which long-term marketing relationships in the B2B financial services industry can be managed.