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Unraveling the customer education paradox: when, and how, should firms educate their customers?

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Title: Unraveling the customer education paradox: when, and how, should firms educate their customers?
Authors: Bell, SJ
Auh, S
Eisingerich, AB
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Customer education or the extent to which firms are seen as providing customers with the skills and abilities to utilize critical information is often considered a valuable augmentation to a firm’s service offerings. Yet, many firms are hesitant to invest in customer education efforts for fear that it will equip customers with the skills to shop around and possibly switch providers. The purpose of this research is to understand the circumstances under which customer education ties customers more closely to a firm or encourages customers to leave. Specifically, our studies show that an understanding of this paradox of customer education lies in the specificity of customer expertise that is built as a result of customer education initiatives. The results demonstrate that educating customers for firm-specific expertise leads to increased loyalty, while building market-related expertise may decrease customer loyalty. A critical practical implication of our findings therefore is the need for managers to understand the varying effects of enhancing customers’ firm-specific versus market-related expertise and to consider customer education initiatives proactively.
Issue Date: 1-Aug-2017
Date of Acceptance: 3-Jan-2017
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/60357
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1094670517691847
ISSN: 1094-6705
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Start Page: 306
End Page: 321
Journal / Book Title: Journal of Service Research
Volume: 20
Issue: 3
Copyright Statement: © 2017 The Author(s). The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Journal of Service Research, Volume: 20, issue: 3, page(s): 306-321 by Sage Publications Ltd. All rights reserved. It is available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1094670517691847
Keywords: Social Sciences
Business
Business & Economics
customer education
customer expertise
loyalty
switching costs
customer centricity
SERVICE QUALITY
SWITCHING COSTS
KNOWLEDGE
MODEL
DIFFERENTIATION
CONSEQUENCES
INFORMATION
ATTACHMENT
TYPOLOGY
BEHAVIOR
1505 Marketing
1504 Commercial Services
Marketing
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2017-02-15
Appears in Collections:Imperial College Business School



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