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A longitudinal examination of the asymmetric impact of employee and customer satisfaction on retail sales

Timothy L. Keiningham (IPSOS Loyalty, Parsippany, New Jersey, USA)
Lerzan Aksoy (Koç University, College of Administrative Sciences and Economics, Istanbul, Turkey)
Bruce Cooil (Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA)
Kenneth Peterson (IPSOS Loyalty, Parsippany, New Jersey, USA, and)
Terry G. Vavra (Terry Vavra Associates, Allendale, New Jersey, USA)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 1 September 2006




The purpose of this research is to examine changes in, and consistency of customer and employee satisfaction for asymmetry with regard to sales changes for a large US specialty goods retailer.


The data came from a 125 store US specialty goods retailer. Customer and employee data represent surveys administered by the firm in 2000 and 2001. Over 34,000 customer questionnaires and 3,900+ employee questionnaires were collected for the study. Pearson correlations and CHAID analyses were used to test the hypotheses.


For satisfaction (employee and customer) to impact changes in sales, perceived performance standards on some dimensions must be consistently delivered and changes in satisfaction levels must cross attribute‐specific threshold levels.

Research limitations/implications

As the data comes from a single retailer, it is not possible to conclusively generalize these findings to all other retailers, or to other industries.

Practical implications

For managers, the typical reliance on simple mean employee or customer satisfaction scores or indexes is unlikely to adequately explain changes in sales. Managers must achieve satisfaction levels on those attributes where consistent performance is linked to sales. Additionally, given the threshold nature of the relationship, it is critical that managers be certain that efforts designed to improve satisfaction do so in sufficient force so as to reach levels that correspond with increasing sales.


While the literature has shown asymmetry in the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer behavior, to date no research has examined possible asymmetry in employee satisfaction data and business performance. Furthermore, analyses of asymmetry in customer satisfaction data have largely focused on cross‐sectional data and individual‐level customer data (as opposed to business performance indicators). Understanding the asymmetric nature of the examined relationships should result in better allocation and use of marketing resources.



Keiningham, T.L., Aksoy, L., Cooil, B., Peterson, K. and Vavra, T.G. (2006), "A longitudinal examination of the asymmetric impact of employee and customer satisfaction on retail sales", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 16 No. 5, pp. 442-459.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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