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Relative measures in service research

Lerzan Aksoy (Marketing Department, Fordham University, New York, New York, USA)
Jens Hogreve (Ingolstadt School of Management, Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Ingolstadt, Germany)
Bart Lariviere (Center for Service Intelligence, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium)
Andrea Ordanini (Department of Marketing, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy)
Chiara Orsingher (University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 14 September 2015




The purpose of this paper is to introduce an alternative novel approach to measurement of customer perceptions of the service experience that links closely with customer loyalty outcomes.


This conceptual paper draws upon prior theory and empirical research to investigate the relevance of using relative metrics compared to absolute metrics in service research.


The findings upon which this paper draws upon show that measuring customer satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, brand preference using absolute metrics explain a very small per cent of the variance in key customer outcome measures such as share of wallet. Instead, a relative approach to these and other measures in service research is proposed.

Practical implications

Although business practice has embraced relative measurement much more extensively than has scientific research, the vast majority of customer experience measurement programs today continue to employ absolute measures resulting in suboptimal allocation of firm resources. This paper is a call to rethink these current measurement practices.


It is one of the first papers to argue for changing the widely employed use of absolute metrics in theory and practice in favor of relative metrics. Application to other service research theories is discussed.



The authors would like to thank Arne DeKeyser for his valuable comments and contributions to Table I of the paper.


Aksoy, L., Hogreve, J., Lariviere, B., Ordanini, A. and Orsingher, C. (2015), "Relative measures in service research", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 29 No. 6/7, pp. 448-452.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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