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Journal cover: Journal of Services Marketing

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Online from: 1987

Subject Area: Marketing

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Exploring switching behavior of US mobile service customers

Document Information:
Title:Exploring switching behavior of US mobile service customers
Author(s):Arvind Malhotra, (Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA), Claudia Kubowicz Malhotra, (Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA)
Citation:Arvind Malhotra, Claudia Kubowicz Malhotra, (2013) "Exploring switching behavior of US mobile service customers", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 27 Iss: 1, pp.13 - 24
Keywords:Innovation, Lock-in, Mobile communication systems, Mobile services, Service quality, Service quality assurance
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/08876041311296347 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the switching behavior of mobile service customers in the USA with a focus on service quality, innovation and lock-in strategies as deterrents of switching.

Design/methodology/approach – A thorough literature review coupled with two focus group interviews provided the impetus for the design and development of a survey instrument that was then administered to graduate and undergraduate students in the Southeast USA.

Findings – The paper finds that: mobile service quality (m-SERVQUAL) is a significant detractor of switching intentions of customers – if customers perceive their provider to be innovative, they are less likely to switch to another provider; the perception of being innovative is equally as important as the perception of the service quality delivered by the provider; hard lock-in (unreasonable contract length) leads customers to increase their intention to switch, which is completely counter to its intended purpose; and service quality perceptions and perceptions of the innovativeness of the company positively impact consumers' intent to buy more add-on services.

Practical implications – Delivering high service quality as well as being perceived as an innovator are key determinants in reducing consumer switching. Each has a unique role to play, but understanding the impact of the interplay between them is critical. Important innovation factors for providers include creating new services, especially data services, and working with hardware manufacturers to provide new phone models more frequently. Lastly, hard lock-in (e.g. long contracts, contract breaking fees, etc.) may backfire with a higher reported propensity to switch in the long run.

Originality/value – The study draws attention to the importance of innovation in retaining customers. Counter to the literature, it also finds that hard lock-ins may be detrimental in the long run and a practice to be avoided.

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