n International Retail and Marketing Review - Strengthening customer loyalty through intimacy and passion : roles of customer-firm affection and customer-staff relationships in services

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN :


This study extends the existing satisfaction-trust-loyalty paradigm to investigate how customers' affectionate ties with firms (customer-firm affection) - in particular, the components of intimacy and passion - affect customer loyalty in services. In a bilevel model, the authors consider customer-staff and customer-firm interactions in parallel. Through a netnography study and survey research in two service contexts, they confirm (1) the salience of intimacy and passion as two underrecognized components of customer-firm affection that influence customer loyalty, (2) the complementary and mediating role of customer-firm affection in strengthening customer loyalty, (3) significant affect transfers from the customer-staff to the customer-firm level, and (4) the dilemma that emerges when customer-staff relationships are too close. The findings provide several implications for researchers and managers regarding how intimacy and passion can enrich customer service interactions and how to manage customer-staff relationships properly.

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