The technology evolution compels retail networks to introduce unique business models to retain customers and to gain a competitive advantage. Customer reviews available through social media need to be taken into account by retail networks to design a model with unique service operations and marketing approaches that will improve loyalty by adding value to customers. Furthermore, the relationship between customer satisfaction and customer spending behaviour is very weak and needs further investigation. Hence the purpose of this paper is to understand how retail network leverage the potential of social media reviews along with unique service operations to satisfy customers. The study analyses the nexus of: a brand, promotional offers, service operations; and their interaction through social media reviews on customer satisfaction levels.
The authors develop a conceptual model for the social media era. The authors combine the idea of loyalty- and value-based models of Chatterjee (2013). The authors employed a survey questionnaire method to elicit opinions of retail customer satisfaction based on social media reviews, service operations and marketing efforts. The authors derive measures of the model from existing literature and expert opinion.
Social media reviews dramatically impact upon customer satisfaction. Similarly the empirical analysis identifies the significant and positive role played by service operations in customer satisfaction levels. Interestingly the authors did not find unequivocal support for brand satisfaction impacting on customer satisfaction. However, when promotions interact well with service operations, the level of customer satisfaction is significantly affected. Similarly the authors did not observe a positive outcome when there is an interaction between promotion and social media reviews. After reading the reviews, some potential buyers make a visit to store before making final decisions and surprisingly, promotional effects do not change their mind set.
Research findings confirm the importance of social media reviews, marketing and interaction between promotion and service operations enabling retail networks to build loyalty and value-based models. Based on customer behaviour, the study suggests a need to consider operational efficiencies when promoting sales; through careful planning, customer satisfaction and profitability levels can be increased. This sends a strong message to the retail network to defend their position within a very competitive business market.
The empirical evidence based on customer experience would be helpful for companies in integrating their operations and marketing efforts enabling them to convert different segment of customers such as “free riders (higher satisfaction and low profitability)” and “vulnerable customers (low satisfaction and higher profitability)” into “star customers (higher satisfaction and high profitability)”. Through a considered approach: combining social media reviews, marketing and operations, businesses will be better-placed to survive in the ultra-competitive social media-influenced era.
The author, Usha Ramanathan, would like to thank the Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University for providing support to conduct initial retail customer survey.
Ramanathan, U., Subramanian, N. and Parrott, G. (2017), "Role of social media in retail network operations and marketing to enhance customer satisfaction", International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol. 37 No. 1, pp. 105-123. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOPM-03-2015-0153
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