Customer equity: dimensions and realisation process
A number of researcher and practitioners have identified a dramatic increase in competition and market transparency as the driving force behind the decline in customer loyalty in the financial services sector (e.g. Caruana, 2002). However, the costs for selling a product to a new customer are much higher than the costs for selling the same product to an existing customer, particularly when the customer is loyal to the company (Duffy, 2003). Due to these facts, strengthening customer relationships is necessary to achieve higher customer equity. Blodgett (2000) claims that the successful implementation of a customer equity strategy involves an organisation’s customer focus, operations, systems, and culture. Companies can offer value to customers through their services and products (added value and innovations), their personnel (service quality), and their processes (speed and quality). When the customer buys financial products and services, he creates customer equity for the company, which is in this thesis presented as company profit. Company profit is the sum of all customer profits and represents the value of each customer in the form of monetary aspects. This thesis aims at investigating if communication, price, process, product and human resource management influence company profit (customer equity) and, thus, whether they are drivers of customer equity (Chapters 5-10). In total, seven dimensions have been investigated. Recent customer equity models of value-based management are examined from the literature and based upon this, the construction of a new conceptual model for value building in competitive markets is proposed (Chapter 4). The framework identifies value propositions such as brand or product leadership, value sources for determining value creation strategies, and finally customer touch points for value delivery. Touch points are referred to as advertising, use of a logo, presence of sales persons, websites, branch outlets etc i.e. the human and physical interactions with customers over their relationship with an organisation. Together with products such touch points are designed to deliver value to customers with the objective of increasing customer equity.
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