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EMAC 2023 Annual

Understanding the Relative Effectiveness of Customer Relationships with Brands, Firms and the Front-line Employees – A Meta-Analysis.

Published: May 24, 2023


Carlos Bauer, The University of Alabama


To advance understanding of different types of business relational strategies influencing customer loyalty, this article conducts a meta-analysis of the links between relational mechanisms (i.e., satisfaction, trust, commitment) across relationships with the brand, the firm, and the front-line employee on objective/subjective measures of customer loyalty. The analysis of 297 publications (N = 484,118) across 885 effects in 45 countries reveals a natural relational progression showing that relationships between brands  customers are stronger predictors of loyalty, followed by employee and firm relationships. These results can be observed at the granular (i.e., mechanism to outcome) and at aggregated (i.e., Relationship Quality = satisfaction + trust + commitment) levels. Results provide valuable contributions to theory and practice providing guidelines on how to best invest relational resources. (Note: between now and the conference, important moderators will be analyzed).