آیا روابط حساب کلیدی متفاوت هستند؟ نتایج تجربی درباره استراتژی های تامین کننده و واکنش های مشتری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21510||2007||13 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||10313 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 36, Issue 4, May 2007, Pages 470–482
In this paper, the authors analyze 91 key account relationships and 206 ordinary supplier–buyer dyads regarding differences in suppliers' relational behaviors and customers' perceptions of relationship quality (satisfaction, trust, and commitment). The results suggest that while – as compared to ordinary relationships – suppliers put significantly more effort in “value-creating behaviors” in key account relationships, they do not modify their “value-claiming behaviors” in those dyads. On the customer side, suppliers' increased value creating activities lead to increased commitment. However, customers are neither more satisfied, nor do they trust their suppliers more when they receive key account status.
As a reaction to changes in environmental factors, in their customers' purchasing behavior, and also because of their own evolution toward more complex offerings, many suppliers in the business-to-business field have introduced key account management programs. The aim of these programs is to serve strategically important customers in a more individual manner than ordinary accounts. A core assumption in the key account literature is that supplier companies are willing to increase their input into important customer relationships because they hope to enhance the relationship outcome. This paper presents the results of an empirical study among 297 purchasing managers in which this assumption was tested. Based upon the relational exchange framework, the authors analyze whether suppliers dedicate more relational behavior to their key accounts than to their ordinary accounts (input side). This research also examines whether the quality of the relationship (satisfaction, trust, commitment) as perceived by key accounts is higher than that perceived by ordinary accounts (output side).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Two questions were at the center of this article: (1) do key accounts receive more relational treatment from their suppliers than non-key accounts? and (2) are key accounts more satisfied, more trusting and more committed customers than non-key accounts? Through an empirical study, data were generated that provide a rather fragmented picture. On the one hand, there are some dimensions of relational behavior in which suppliers do grant key customers more relational behavior than an ordinary or small customer would receive. We mainly observe an increased input level for behaviors that contribute to the creation of value for the customer. On the other hand, this increased input into the relationship does not lead to an observable amelioration of customer perceived relationship quality. This applies at least to the two dimensions of satisfaction and to customer trust into the supplier. Only with respect to commitment differences are observable. KAs achieve higher levels of customer commitment than non-KAs. However, analyzing the relationship between the dimensions of relational behavior and relationship quality, we observe neither an increased explanatory power for KAs as compared to non-KAs nor differences in the importance of the individual behaviors. At least the fact that suppliers increase the relational content of certain customer-directed behaviors in KA-relationships without being able to increase their customers' perceptions of relationship quality is surprising. After all, why should they continue engaging in special marketing practices if there are no tangible rewards? In order to give a substantial answer to this question, the present study would have to be completed by the inverse perspective: what effect would a reduction of relational input have on perceived relationship quality? A first explanation may be that key account programs themselves are at the origin of the problem. They represent a concept that aims at increased customer management efficiency and effectiveness through individualized exchange processes. By attributing a customer key account status, the supplier clearly signalizes that this customer is of strategic importance to him. As a consequence, it would not be surprising if the introduction of a key account program led to increased expectations on the customer side. Extant research into satisfaction indicates that the comparison level influences the degree of satisfaction. The higher the hurdle, the more difficult it becomes for the supplier to take it. From this vantage point, the fact that KAs are not more unsatisfied than non-KAs may already represent a partial success for suppliers. Under certain circumstances, it may be harder to satisfy key customers than other customer groups. Additional research focusing on alternative functional relationships between different categories of supplier behavior and customer satisfaction (e.g. by applying the KANO-model, cf. Kano, 1984) could shed more light onto this field. Another possible way to discuss our results is linked to the vision we have of the objectives assigned to key account programs. Are these objectives to create value for the customers? Or to create value in the relationship? If we agree on a definition of key account programs as value creators for the relationship, then when measuring the customers' perception of relationship quality – what we have done in our study – we are only measuring one possible output of key account programs. Another possible and important output of key account programs could be the value created for the supplier. For instance, has the creation of a key account program helped the supplier to better organize his processes? Has it facilitated the communication between employees inside the supplier? Has it lowered the cost of managing a relationship through better coordination of customer-directed activities? Has it helped the supplier to find new opportunities of business with the customer? Has it given the supplier ideas for product or process innovation? In other words, maybe would it be interesting to complete our study by measuring the value created for the supplier by the key account program. When the results of our study show that KA customers do not perceive more quality in the relationship maybe the comment should not be only “why to continue engaging in special marketing practices if they are not tangible rewards?” but also “are any rewards of key account programs created for the supplier?”. The real problem is occurring when value is created neither for the customer, nor for the supplier. As part of our discussion, it might also be interesting to elaborate on the differences noted – at the level of relational treatments – between elements of value creation and elements of value claiming. Maybe we can bring these results together with the novelty of KAM practices in European firms. If we consider that in Europe we are still in a period of settlement of KAM practices – in comparison for instance to the North-American situation, where the origins of KAM date back to the 60s ( Weilbaker & Weeks, 1997) – then the visible efforts of a supplier implementing a KAM program are those of a beginner in that kind of specific management. There would be a sort of chronological aspect of the key account program. The first step being to find ways to create value in the relationship — which means acting as to demonstrate efforts to engage with the customer in a specific relationship with behaviors like: solidarity, stability, information sharing, planning, mutuality and the like. The second step being implementing behaviors so as to share the value created in the relationship with behaviors like monitoring, use of power, and conflict resolution. Thus, in the current period European firms are living, it is then normal that KA customers just see the behaviors linked to value creation which are those associated with the settlement of a key account program. If the idea of stages of KAM has already been treated ( Mc Donald et al., 2000, Millman and Wilson, 1996 and Pardo et al., 1995) the explicit link between chronological stages and relational behaviors has not been explicitly analyzed. This seems to us an important avenue for future research. Summarizing, this research provides some new insights into the nature of business-to-business relationships. It contributes to a better understanding of the customer perspective in KAM, programs. As compared to organizational, instrumental or strategic aspects of KAM this field of research had hitherto been sadly neglected (Jensen, 2001, Müllner, 2002 and Pardo, 1997). Particularly, this paper took a close look at customers perceptions of relationship quality by differentiating between key accounts and non-key accounts. In this sense, it does advance the field of KAM research. On the other hand it appears necessary to extend this research. Relationship quality represents one relevant outcome variable of KA programs. Nevertheless, in many companies' goal system, “hard” objectives – e.g. customer contribution margins or customer penetration rates – are at the center of top management efforts. By putting the dimensions of relational behavior in relationship with these variables, the picture drawn in this paper could be completed. Because of its explicit customer focus, this study could not achieve this aim. Future studies should try to link information on “hard factors” and “soft factors” to one another.