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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2011

Thorsten Gruber, Ibrahim Abosag, Alexander E. Reppel and Isabelle Szmigin

This paper seeks to use the Kano model to gain a deeper understanding of attributes of effective frontline employees dealing with customer complainants in personal…

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4040

Abstract

Purpose

This paper seeks to use the Kano model to gain a deeper understanding of attributes of effective frontline employees dealing with customer complainants in personal interactions. Previous research revealed that excitement factors deteriorate to basic factors over time. This research aims to investigate whether the same phenomenon holds true for attributes of service employees.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected using Kano questionnaires from 272 respondents with complaining experience in the UK and Saudi Arabia, these being two countries at different stages of service sector development.

Findings

The analysis of the Kano questionnaires for the UK reveals that complaining customers take the contact employee's ability to listen carefully for granted. The Kano results for Saudi Arabia clearly indicate that complaining customers are (still) easier to delight than their UK counterparts.

Research limitations/implications

Even though the study has a sample size similar to several existing Kano studies, future research studies could still use larger probability samples that represent the broader (complaining) consumer population in the selected countries.

Practical implications

If companies know what complaining customers expect, frontline employees may be trained to adapt their behaviour to their customers' underlying expectations. For this purpose, the paper gives several suggestions to managers to improve active complaint handling and management.

Originality/value

The study adds to the understanding of effective complaint handling. The findings are the first to show that employee factors that are performance factors in a highly developed service economy can still delight customers in a less developed service economy.

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2008

Thorsten Gruber, Isabelle Szmigin, Alexander E. Reppel and Roediger Voss

The purpose of this paper is to thoroughly explain how qualitative researchers can design and conduct online interviews to investigate interesting consumer phenomena.

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5412

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to thoroughly explain how qualitative researchers can design and conduct online interviews to investigate interesting consumer phenomena.

Design/methodology/approach

A semi‐standardized qualitative technique called laddering was applied successfully to an online environment. Laddering allows researchers to reach deeper levels of reality and to reveal the reasons behind the reasons. A web survey that included an opinion leadership scale filled in by 2,472 people served as a springboard for identifying possible participants for the online laddering interviews. In total, 22 online interviews were conducted with opinion leaders in the specific product field of digital music players such as Apple's iPod.

Findings

Conducting online interviews enabled information to be gathered from an interesting group of respondents that would have been difficult to contact otherwise. The whole online interviewing process was convenient for respondents who did not have to leave their homes and offices for the interviews. In general, respondents enjoyed the online laddering interviewing experience and in particular the relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The most valued attributes of Apple's iPod are “control elements” and “design”, which are linked to values such as hedonism and individuality.

Originality/value

The paper is the first to systematically describe how qualitative researchers can conduct laddering interviews online. By explaining the online interviewing process in detail, the authors dispel criticism that qualitative research reports are often unclear, ambiguous and unstructured. Based on the detailed description of the online laddering process, other researchers can use the technique to get deeper insights into interesting consumer phenomena.

Details

Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, vol. 11 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-2752

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2004

Isabelle Szmigin and Alexander E. Reppel

This paper presents a structure for understanding Internet communities. A conceptual framework is developed with a view to enabling an understanding of the delivery of…

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2306

Abstract

This paper presents a structure for understanding Internet communities. A conceptual framework is developed with a view to enabling an understanding of the delivery of service and engendering of loyalty in an on‐line community. This framework, termed the customer bonding triangle, incorporates three elements, service value, technical infrastructure and interactivity. These elements were directly developed from the authors' experience with an on‐line community, macnews.de. The paper examines these elements and their function in developing Internet community bonding and develops a questionnaire based on Kano's (1984) model of customer satisfaction requirements which is tested using participants from the macnews.de site. It is found that for this group technical infrastructure was not perceived as providing satisfaction while providing solutions to problems was of more importance. The paper considers the implications of these findings for Internet communities.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 38 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2006

Alexander E. Reppel, Isabelle Szmigin and Thorsten Gruber

The aim of this paper is to explore the potential for learning from customers of a market leader through qualitative marketing research.

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19088

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this paper is to explore the potential for learning from customers of a market leader through qualitative marketing research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents findings from a study that applies a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods. An online variation of an existing qualitative research method is proposed.

Findings

The results suggest that the proposed method can be transferred successfully to an online environment and combines the effectiveness of qualitative research with the efficiency of quantitative research.

Research limitations/implications

A general problem with online research is that it excludes all individuals who are not online. Moreover, the results are limited by the nature of the sample, which only includes German‐speaking respondents. Finally, further research should investigate the differences in depth between responses of online‐ and offline‐conducted interviews.

Practical implications

Offers a relatively inexpensive yet effective solution for product and brand managers to uncover the reasons that drive customers to a market‐leading competitor.

Originality/value

Compared with many other approaches available to product and brand managers, this paper proposes a more realistic and practical method of understanding a market leader through the eyes of its customers.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. 15 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Isabelle Szmigin, Louise Canning and Alexander E. Reppel

To revisit relationship marketing in the context of the digital economy.

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14181

Abstract

Purpose

To revisit relationship marketing in the context of the digital economy.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper develops a conceptual framework (the customer bonding triangle) that enables greater understanding of the contributions of service delivery and online communities in the development of bonds in interactive relationships. The function of the three key elements of the framework (namely service value, technical infrastructure and interactivity) in enabling bonding via internet communities, is developed.

Findings

Suggests that firms rethink the role and nature of the consumer and that in order to facilitate bonding firms must make use of systems that are tightly integrated yet can also incorporate flexibility to help develop better understanding amongst participants.

Originality/value

Provides a framework to help understand key elements in interactive relationships.

Details

International Journal of Service Industry Management, vol. 16 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0956-4233

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 4 January 2013

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178

Abstract

Details

The TQM Journal, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-2731

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2010

Thorsten Gruber, Stephan C. Henneberg, Bahar Ashnai, Peter Naudé and Alexander Reppel

The purpose of this paper is to gain a deeper understanding of the attributes of effective complaint management in business‐to‐business relationships, and to reveal the…

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1914

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to gain a deeper understanding of the attributes of effective complaint management in business‐to‐business relationships, and to reveal the underlying benefits that buying organizations are looking for when complaining.

Design/methodology/approach

A semi‐standardized qualitative technique called laddering was applied successfully to an online environment with 22 representatives of companies in the manufacturing industry participating.

Findings

The resulting hierarchical value map displays 13 attributes which exemplify the complaint resolution management expectations. A total of 14 constructs represent consequences of such resolution activities, while four constructs can be interpreted as values. Take “Quick action” is the most important of the expected attributes and behaviours of complaint resolution management. Four consequences seem to dominate the assessment: Financial benefits, Prevention of future problems, Solution, and Effective resolution handling. “Maintain supplier relationships” appears as a dominant value in the perceptions of respondents, with half of them mentioning this as an end.

Research limitations/implications

Owing to the exploratory nature of the study in general and the scope and size of its sample in particular, the findings are tentative in nature. The study involved a group of representatives of large UK manufacturing companies with complaint handling responsibilities and so the results cannot be generalised.

Originality/value

The findings enrich the existing limited stock of knowledge on complaint management in business relationships by developing a deeper understanding of the attributes that complaining customer companies desire from suppliers, as well as the underlying business logic (i.e. values) for these expectations. The quality of the results also suggests that the laddering questionnaire technique can be transferred effectively to an online environment.

Details

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 25 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0885-8624

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Article
Publication date: 21 September 2010

Roediger Voss, Thorsten Gruber and Alexander Reppel

This paper aims to explore satisfactory and dissatisfactory student‐professor encounters in higher education from a student's perspective. The critical incident technique…

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1674

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore satisfactory and dissatisfactory student‐professor encounters in higher education from a student's perspective. The critical incident technique (CIT) is used to categorise positive and negative student‐professor interactions and to reveal quality dimensions of professors.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory study using an online application of the well‐established CIT method was conducted. The study took place at a large European university. A total of 96 students took part in the study on a voluntary basis and reported 164 incidents. Respondents were aged between 19 and 24 years (x=23.2) and slightly more female students (52 per cent) filled in the online CIT questionnaire than male students (48 per cent). On average, every student provided 1.7 incidents.

Findings

The results of the critical incident sorting process support previous classification systems that used three major groups to thoroughly represent the domain of (un)satisfactory student‐professor encounters. The results of the CIT study also revealed ten quality dimensions of professors, corroborating previous research in this area.

Research limitations/implications

Owing to the exploratory nature of the study and the scope and size of its student sample, the results outlined are tentative in nature. The research study also only investigates the experiences of one stakeholder group.

Practical implications

Gaining knowledge of students' classroom experiences should be beneficial for professors to design their teaching programmes. Based on the results, universities might consider the introduction of student contracts or student satisfaction guarantees to manage student expectations effectively.

Originality/value

The paper was the first to successfully apply an online version of the CIT techniques to the issue of higher education services. This paper shows that the CIT method is a useful tool for exploring student‐professor encounters in higher education. The paper has hopefully opened up an area of research and methodology that could reap considerable further benefits for researchers interested in this area.

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 24 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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Article
Publication date: 5 September 2008

Thorsten Gruber, Alexander Reppel, Isabelle Szmigin and Roediger Voss

The purpose of this paper is to focus on complaint satisfaction with a particular emphasis on the qualities and behaviours that affect customers during personal complaint…

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3321

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to focus on complaint satisfaction with a particular emphasis on the qualities and behaviours that affect customers during personal complaint handling encounters.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a literature review of complaint satisfaction and the role of customer contact employees in complaint encounters, an exploratory study using both the laddering interviewing technique and Kano questionnaires is presented.

Findings

The laddering results indicate that being taken seriously in the complaint encounter and the employee's friendliness, listening skills and competence are particularly important. The fact that interpersonal factors are highly regarded indicates that customers want to satisfy these process needs first and their outcome expectations second. The Kano results show that employees' active listening skills are the only must‐be requirements while the two concepts “Apology” and “Respectful Treatment” are close to being must‐be criteria. In addition, the employee's feedback after the complaint handling encounter can almost be categorized as an excitement factor.

Research limitations/implications

Owing to the exploratory nature of the study and the scope and size of the chosen sample, the results outlined are tentative in nature.

Originality/value

By combing two research methods, this paper develops an area of research that could reap considerable benefits for researchers interested in the area of customer complaint satisfaction.

Details

Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1352-2752

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 21 September 2010

Brian Roberts

Downloads
549

Abstract

Details

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 24 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-354X

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