To read this content please select one of the options below:

The role of service fairness in the service quality – relationship quality – customer loyalty chain: An empirical study

Apostolos Giovanis (Department of Business Administration, Technological Educational Institute of Athens, Athens, Greece)
Pinelopi Athanasopoulou (Department of Sport Management, University of Peloponnese, Sparta, Greece)
Evangelos Tsoukatos (Department of Accounting and Finance, Techonogical Educational Institute of Crete, Heraklion, Greece)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 9 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to extend the well-established nomological network of service quality-relationship quality-customer loyalty by introducing service fairness – a distinct service evaluation concept. Specifically, the study aims to investigate the impact of service fairness on relationship quality as a complementary to service quality driver, and the direct and indirect effect of service fairness on customer loyalty in the presence of service quality and relationship quality in a no failure/recovery effort service context.


A telephone survey of a random sample of 408 customers of auto repair and maintenance services was implemented using a structured questionnaire with established scales. Data were analyzed with partial least squares path methodology, a structural equation modeling methodology.


Interactional fairness is the most important formative determinant of customers’ overall fairness perception, followed by procedural and distributive fairness. Relationship quality measured as a higher order construct, made of satisfaction; trust; affective and calculative commitment, is the main determinant of customer loyalty. Also, it partially mediates, along with service quality, the relationship between service fairness and customer loyalty and fully mediates the effect of service quality on customer loyalty. Finally, service fairness has the highest overall effect on customer loyalty.

Research limitations/implications

The sample is industry-specific and this may affect generalizability of findings. Also, the cross-sectional design adopted does not reflect temporal changes.

Practical implications

Interactional fairness is of utmost importance to customers of the investigated industry. So, customers should be fairly treated at every point of contact. Also, service quality is heavily affected by service fairness. Thus, fair service leads to high-perceived service quality. Third, service quality affects customer loyalty only through relationship quality. Only when service quality is coupled by long-term quality relationships, signs of customer loyalty appear. Finally, service fairness influences customer loyalty mainly through service and relationship quality and has the highest overall effect on customer loyalty. So, fairly treating customers is crucial for developing long-term relationships that lead to customer loyalty.


The role of service fairness in the service quality-relationship quality-customer loyalty chain is investigated and using a higher order construct for relationship quality.



Giovanis, A., Athanasopoulou, P. and Tsoukatos, E. (2015), "The role of service fairness in the service quality – relationship quality – customer loyalty chain: An empirical study", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 744-776.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles