|Title:||Exploring customer expectations for professional services firms using zone of tolerance framework|
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
|Department:||Faculty of Business|
|Pages:||xii, 196 leaves : illustrations ; 30 cm|
|Abstract:||Estimated at US$45.6 trillion in 2012 by International Monetary Fund, services sector contributes to almost two-third (63.6%) of the world economy. Professional services such as accounting, consulting and legal services constitute a significant proportion of the services sector. However, prior research on customer expectations using the 'Zone of Tolerance' (ZOT) framework focuses mostly on the business-to-customer (B2C) context, with little attention to the distinctive nature of customer expectations in a business-to-business (B2B) professional services context. As a result, managers in professional services firms may not have sufficient knowledge to develop suitable strategies to understand and manage the expectations of their business customers.This thesis addresses the above research gap with a modified ZOT framework incorporating several important antecedents of customer expectations and exploring their impact on ZOT for the customers of audit services, a professional service in the B2B context. Next, it develops seven hypotheses about (i) influence of dyadic professional service and client firms' sizes, fee premium, service tenure and client participation level on desired service level (DSL) and adequate service level (ASL);(ii) the moderating effect of dyadic firm size and (iii) the influence of DSL on ASL.A two-stage Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) approach was used to test the measurement and structural models. Data from 395 customers of professional audit firms supports many hypotheses. Specifically, service tenure positively influences both desired and adequate service levels; client and service firm sizes positively moderate each other's influence on the DSL; and DSL positively influences ASL.This thesis extends service marketing literature in many ways. First, it extends the original ZOT framework to B2B professional services context, by identifying and testing new antecedents of DSL and ASL. Second, it introduces and examines the moderating effect of client and service firm sizes on each other's influence on DSL. Finally, it tests the impact of DSL on ASL, which has largely been ignored in prior research. Overall, this thesis expands our knowledge about ZOT and its antecedents by exploring their applicability in a hitherto unexplored but important domain.From a managerial perspective, this thesis helps professional service providers to understand the mechanisms driving their customers' expectations and to better calibrate their marketing strategies. Service managers in these firms can use the findings reported in this thesis, to prioritize their resources to maximize customers' satisfaction under different attributes, i.e., different dyadic firm sizes and service tenure. In addition, the study provides a skeleton in B2B professional service context, and facilitates the growth and development of strategies for professional services.|
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