Orchestrating service brand touchpoints and the effects on relational outcomes

Abdullah J. Sultan (Kuwait University College of Business Administration)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Publication date: 10 September 2018



This research aims to identify critical brand touchpoints that generate value for customers and brands and examine their effects on two relational outcomes: relationship quality and word of mouth (WOM).


Three studies combining qualitative and quantitative research provide evidence distinguishing four different stages of customer experience in the telecom industry and develop a research model of staged customer experience; structural equation modeling analyses are used to validate the proposed model and test for the examined effects.


Customer experience in the telecom industry consists of four related but distinct stages (i.e. pre-touch, in-touch, post-touch and service failure) and these stages have direct and indirect effects on WOM. Furthermore, the effects of customer experience stages on WOM are partially mediated by relationship quality.

Research limitations/implications

The research model introduced here will allow academics and practitioners to focus their efforts on important touchpoints that influence relationship quality and WOM. Future research should examine the proposed model of staged customer experience in different applications and industries.

Practical implications

A common myth among marketers is that firms should design a painless experience if they want a superior market position. While avoiding a drain on financial resources, the prime objective should be to provide a holistic customer experience that is valuable to customers and the brand alike. Marketers should disregard touchpoints and stages that do not provide noticeable value.


This research answers the call for a more appropriate model to elucidate the factors that link customer experience with relational outcomes.



Sultan, A. (2018), "Orchestrating service brand touchpoints and the effects on relational outcomes", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 777-788. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-12-2016-0413

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