When Does Salespeople’s Customer Orientation Lead to Customer Loyalty? : The Differential Effects of Relational and Functional Customer Orientation

Research German OPEN
Homburg, Christian ; Müller, Michael ; Klarmann, Martin (2010)
  • Publisher: Inst. für Marktorientierte Unternehmensführung, Univ. Mannheim
  • Subject: 650 Management

Is a customer orientation universally effective for salespeople? Or does its effectiveness depend on the selling situation? While previous research has largely neglected this question, this study investigates contextual influences on the link between customer-oriented behaviors and customer loyalty. To do so, it takes a role theory perspective on salesperson customer orientation by distinguishing functional customer orientation and relational customer orientation. It then investigates which type of customer orientation is more effective with regard to establishing and maintaining customer loyalty, given the specific situation. Here, the authors analyze the moderating impact of a customer’s communication style (task orientation and interaction orientation) and specific characteristics of a supplier’s products (product individuality, importance, complexity, and brand strength). Multilevel analysis of triadic data from a cross-industry survey of 56 sales managers, 195 sales representatives, and 538 customers provides empirical support for positive, non significant, and even adverse effects of salespeople’s customer-oriented behaviors on customer loyalty, depending on contextual variables.
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