Does relationship marketing improve customer relationship satisfaction and loyalty?

Andreas Leverin (Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management, Helsinki, Finland)
Veronica Liljander (Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki, Finland)

International Journal of Bank Marketing

ISSN: 0265-2323

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship marketing (RM) strategy of a retail bank and examine whether – after its implementation – customer relationships were strengthened through perceived improvements in the banking relationship and consequent loyalty towards the bank.


A survey was conducted on two profitability segments, of which the more profitable segment had been directly exposed to a customer oriented RM strategy, whereas the less profitable segment had been subjected to more sales oriented marketing communications.


No significant differences were found between the segments on customers' evaluations of the service relationship or their loyalty toward the bank. Furthermore, regression analysis revealed that relationship satisfaction was less important as a determinant of loyalty in the more profitable segment.

Research limitations/implications

This study was conducted as a case study of one specific branch of a bank group in Finland, which limits the external validity of its results. It was not possible to ascertain if, or to what extent, customers of the more profitable segment had received the intended RM treatment. Other limitations are also discussed.

Practical implications

Customer orientation is desirable within retail banking and more studies are needed on the differential drivers of loyalty across customer profitability segments. By identifying the aspects of a banking relationship that are more highly valued among more profitable customers than among less profitable customers, bank managers would be able to more effectively devise appropriate strategies for different segments.


The study contributes to the RM literature and marketing of financial services by providing empirical evidence of the effects of RM activities on customer relationship perceptions in different profitability segments.



Leverin, A. and Liljander, V. (2006), "Does relationship marketing improve customer relationship satisfaction and loyalty?", International Journal of Bank Marketing, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 232-251.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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