An investigation of client loyalty in the construction professional services sector
AuthorsWilliams, Nicholas Michael
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AbstractConstruction professional services (CPS) suppliers perform several vital roles in the construction industry. Arguably, their success (and, in hard times, their survival) is determined by the loyalty of their clients. Loyal clients provide a reliable stream of revenue and help generate new business for CPS suppliers by providing recommendations and referrals. However, prior to this research, there were no known empirical studies which investigated CPS client loyalty. Using evidence obtained from a literature review, a conceptual model was developed that identified the key-candidate service-related antecedents of client loyalty. A phase of qualitative research was carried out using purposeful and snowball sampling. Semi-structured interviews were arranged with 20 respondents, with these being a mix of CPS clients and suppliers. The resulting data were subject to thematic analysis, and the conceptual model of CPS-client loyalty was refined based on the findings. A phase of quantitative research was carried out to test the degree to which the qualitative research findings could be generalised to the wider CPS-client population. This involved a survey, and analysis of the data using factor analysis and hypothesis testing using multiple regression. This was itself followed up using a phase of member checking with a group of experts to validate and help explain some discrepant findings. This research has made several contributions to knowledge. It provides empirical support for the existence of a multidimensional form of commitment in a CPS supplier-client context. It is the first known research to identify what CPS suppliers should focus on to be able to build and benefit from client loyalty. The results showed that service quality was the antecedent most strongly associated with loyalty. Affective commitment was found to be next in importance. A weak-but-significant relationship with locked-in commitment was also identified. It should be noted that sampling during both qualitative and quantitative phase of research was restricted to respondents from the UK Midlands. Therefore, there are limits to which the findings can be generalised beyond this geographical region. In summary, CPS suppliers are advised to focus first and foremost on fulfilling their clients’ rational desire for a high level of service quality. However, to achieve optimum levels of client loyalty, they should be mindful of the power of personal relationships between their employees and their clients. In this respect, they are advised to avoid rotating their account representatives where healthy relations and rapport are evident.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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