A model by Kay Storbacka, Tore Strandvik, and Christian Gronroos (1994), the service quality model, is more detailed than the basic loyalty business model but arrives at the same conclusion. In it, customer satisfaction is first based on a recent experience of the product or service. This assessment depends on prior expectations of overall quality compared to the actual performance received. If the recent experience exceeds prior expectations, customer satisfaction is likely to be high. Customer satisfaction can also be high even with mediocre performance quality if the customer's expectations are low, or if the performance provides value (that is, it is priced low to reflect the mediocre quality). Likewise, a customer can be dissatisfied with the service encounter and still perceive the overall quality to be good. This occurs when a quality service is priced very high and the transaction provides little value.
This model then looks at the strength of the business relationship; it proposes that this strength is determined by the level of satisfaction with recent experience, overall perceptions of quality, customer commitment to the relationship, and bonds between the parties. Customers are said to have a "zone of tolerance" corresponding to a range of service quality between "barely adequate" and "exceptional." A single disappointing experience may not significantly reduce the strength of the business relationship if the customer's overall perception of quality remains high, if switching costs are high, if there are few satisfactory alternatives, if they are committed to the relationship, and if there are bonds keeping them in the relationship. The existence of these bonds acts as an exit barrier. There are several types of bonds, including: legal bonds (contracts), technological bonds (shared technology), economic bonds (dependence), knowledge bonds, social bonds, cultural or ethnic bonds, ideological bonds, psychological bonds, geographical bonds, time bonds, and planning bonds.
This model then examines the link between relationship strength and customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is determined by three factors: relationship strength, perceived alternatives and critical episodes. The relationship can terminate if: 1) the customer moves away from the company's service area, 2) the customer no longer has a need for the company's products or services, 3) more suitable alternative providers become available, 4) the relationship strength has weakened, or 5) the company handles a critical episode poorly, 5) unexplainable change of price of the service provided.
The final link in the model is the effect of customer loyalty on profitability. The fundamental assumption of all the loyalty models is that keeping existing customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones. It is claimed by Reichheld and Sasser (1990) that a 5% improvement in customer retention can cause an increase in profitability between 25% and 85% (in terms of net present value) depending upon the industry. However, Carrol and Reichheld (1992) dispute these calculations, claiming that they result from faulty cross-sectional analysis.
According to Buchanan and Gilles (1990), the increased profitability associated with customer retention efforts occurs because:
For this final link to hold, the relationship must be profitable. Striving to maintain the loyalty of unprofitable customers is not a viable business model. That is why it is important for marketers to assess the profitability of each of its clients (or types of clients), and terminate those relationships that are not profitable. In order to do this, each customer's "relationship costs" are compared to their "relationship revenue." A useful calculation for this is the patronage concentration ratio. This calculation is hindered by the difficulty in allocating costs to individual relationships and the ambiguity regarding relationship cost drivers.
Fredrick Reichheld (1996) expanded the loyalty business model beyond customers and employees. He looked at the benefits of obtaining the loyalty of suppliers, employees, bankers, customers, distributors, shareholders, and the board of directors.
Another approach to building customer loyalty through data is described in Scoring points, a book about the Tesco clubcard. This was produced by a company called [Dunnhumby] who gathered the data on household purchases on an opt-in permission basis. Once they had this data they then allowed households to accumulate loyalty points which could be used for subsequent purchases. They subsequently added to the value of customer loyalty by sending out targeted offers from grocery producers to the people whose behaviour said they had a use for the offer. The data gathered in this way allowed customer loyalty to be assessed on both an individual and an aggregate basis.
Whilst less common than the questionaires, loyalty card data is more complete and does not suffer from the arpirational misreporting bias that is common to most forms of market research. It has been credited with the phenomenal success of the Tesco chain as well as with significant improvements by several other large retailers.
All historical trend for differetn segemtnations and their standard of living may also be very helpful in developing customer retention strategy. Lifestyle is also a very powerful tool, can be used for better custmer retention and to know his/her needs in better way. Abdul Mannan HOD