Relationship Quality and Customer Retention through Strategic Communication of Customer Skills
This article discusses the idea of a strategic communication of customer skills - a rather neglected relationship marketing strategy. This idea is based on an interpretation of the customer as the company's partner in the value production process. Customer skills are defined as the total of all product-related knowledge and skills of relevance to any aspect of the customer's post-purchase behaviour (e.g. the ability to use the full range of product features). The author assesses whether communicating customer skills strategically may lead to an increase in perceived relationship quality and customer retention as key variables in relationship marketing. Several hypotheses regarding the interrelations between an increase in customer skills and relationship quality are drawn out from a conceptualisation of both constructs. The validity of these hypotheses is then tested empirically using a structural equation modelling approach for two products, i.e. video recorders and reflex cameras. Results give strong support to the relevance of skills communication for relationship marketing success.