In addition, repeating ACSI can provide trend data (Hall, 2002, p. 23+), important to government agencies, but also to new industries. Hall notes that, "Besides the ability of the ACSI to maintain a pulse on customer satisfaction, the ACSI is an index, not just a survey. This means it groups all participants and provides an integrated score, or index" (2002, p. 23+).
Schay et al. reported that the United States federal Office of Personnel Management uses a similar instrument that measures nine core dimensions underlying customer satisfaction. "These dimensions were distilled from 139 dimensions identified in the management, marketing, and organizational psychology literature. The dimensions are empirically related to organizational effectiveness and relevant to all service sectors" (Schay et al., 2000, p. 30), and therefore would need to be developed specifically for each industry.
While ACSI is the dominant measuring tool in much of U.S. consumer satisfaction research, the Kano system has arisen in Japan for the same purpose.
It is widely known that the Japanese economy runs on businesses that believe quality is paramount, and that Total Quality Control (TQC) is the most important function. "Some Japanese quality experts believe that Japanese TQC has no intrinsic value beyond the pursuit of customer satisfaction and quality assurance" (Gitlow, 1994, p. 197+).
Typically, however, there were equal numbers of Japan experts who believe the convers. Gitlow "asked a senior Japanese quality expert if TQC is a philosophy with wide application to life. He said yes; it is a combination of techniques and spirituality. He said jujitsu is only techniques, whereas judo is spirituality and techniques. He said that Japanese TQC is like judo" (1994, p. 197+).
Kano, the Japanese originator of this paradigm, was translating the theories of W. Edwards Deming from the factory floor to the realm of customer satisfaction. Deming's (1982, 1986, 1993) theory of management had been, in any case, to "transform Western leaders so that they will allow all people to experience joy in their work and pride in the outcome, optimize the system of interdependent stakeholders so that everybody wins, and improve and innovate the condition of society" (Gitlow, 1994, p. 197+). Based on this, "Japanese TQC is an empirically-based paradigm that is structured functionally for practical usefulness to increase customer satisfaction and quality assurance" and it perfectly supports Deming's theory of management, a theoretically-based paradigm that seeks soundness in pursuing the aims of the system. In addition, "an underlying principle of Japanese TQC is respect for humanity, which means that employees can contribute to customer satisfaction and quality assurance if they are given suitable education and training" (Gitlow, 1994, p. 197+).
Stern built upon the theories of customer satisfaction and moved on to "relationship marketing," a tactic that would seem essential in a realty setting. "In personal sales, factors such as characteristics of the customer and the salesperson, pairing dynamics, and situational influences have been found to influence customer preferences. These reflect the customer's assessment of the costs/benefits of entering, remaining, or leaving the relationship" (Stern, 1997, p. 7+).
Other researchers went even farther in the same vein. Wiersema (1996) evaluated customer intimacy, a feature of relationship selling, as "the most important strategic transformation of the decade" (p. 6). Work by Webster suggested that what was needs was "models that focus on the relationship themselves, not just on the market exchanges that are the subject of the microeconomic paradigm" (1992, p. 13).
Berry and Thompson's work (1982) formulated three bases for proceeding in this manner to produce customer satisfaction (assuming a priori, as suggested above, that customer satisfaction is essential to corporate success). They contend that intimacy "accounts for the influence of emotion in relationships as well as that of cognition (feelings as well as thoughts)" and it allows insight into the deterioration of relationships as well as into their formation and maintenance," and, finally; " it emphasizes the association between relationship stages and persuasive communication that enhances the services firm's ability to apply relationship management to advertising as well as to personal sales."
Treacy and Wiersema (1993) propose that Home Depot's relationship strategy is a workable one, and in the current discussion, it also has much to suggest for Chinese realty. Home Depot relies on its clerks to spend whatever time is needed with a customer to solve his or her home-repair needs. Home Depot store personnel are "not in a hurry" (p. 88) and are encouraged to spend time and effort as customers are not always able to express themselves clearly, especially if they are not sure what they really want or need, but know they need some solution to a home-repair dilemma.
On the other hand, they are also expected to get to the point with a customer who does know what is needed and simply wants to buy the item in the most efficient way possible. As Treacy and Wiersema (1993) point out, that customer would not want a chatty, interested clerk, but merely one who took them to or procured what they needed as soon as possible.
Taking these varieties of customer desires into account, Stern rounded up various portions of the research of others to propose the Five C's of Intimate Service Relationships (Stern, 1997, p. 7+).
These C's are:
communication (self-disclosure), caring, commitment, comfort (compatibility), and conflict resolution (trust).
Waring et al. argued that the central defining attribute of the first of these, communication, is self-disclosure (1980). Chelune, Robison and Kommor (1984) suggested that this includes both cognitive self-disclosure (the revelation of private thoughts and ideas) and affective self-disclosure (the revelation of feelings), arguments agreed with by Duck (1988), and Levinger and Snoek (1972).
Commitment has also been called bonding with customers, which is sustained by self-disclosure on the part of the buyer and "sympathetic listening" on the part of the seller (Stern, 1997). This also assists in customer retention, which is considered to be more cost-effective than continually prospecting for new customers (Rapp and Collins, 1994). While residential real estate customers may not be repeat customers in the same way Home Depot's customers looking for tile and hammer are, in commercial real estate, the likelihood of repeat business is much greater. Commitment, especially in that arena, assists in creating enduring relationships (Morgan and Hunt, 1994).
While it seems almost a cliche, a caring company is essential to develop the sort of 'intimate relationship' that will result in success, and, as in personal relationships, they are demonstrated by the qualities of affection, warmth and protectiveness by the sales personnel (Perlman and Fehr, 1987). Nurturance is also important, and is achieved by expressing "a needs rule rather than an equity rule" (Mills and Clark, 1982, p. 374). Eventually, this results in success for both buyer and seller as the result of a closer "physical, mental and social association" (Oden, 1974, p. 3).
Comfort, or compatibility, the fourth C, is based on a customer's sense of security in a relationship, according to Bowlby (1982). Waring et al. noted that relationships a customer believes are compatible are also perceived as irreplaceable and are characterized by feelings about "the other in relation to me" and "me in relation to the other" (1980, p. 26).
Conflict resolution and trust comprise the final C, and are perhaps the most essential part of Stern's equation. Conflict is predictable in any relationship; Clinebell and Clinebell say it is not in itself a cause of dissolution, but rather the inability to solve it that causes relationships, from personal to business, to fail. Stern notes that conflict may even increase intimacy as a "result of the good feelings that flow from the ability to resolve [an issue] satisfactorily" (Stern, 1997, p. 7+).
An alternative model for achieving customer satisfaction is the "ABCD" model. This model relies on a logical progression of stages to display progression of a relationship, although it is likely that success would not be enhanced by the final phase. The ABDC model includes the stages of:
Dissolution (Stern, 1997, p. 7+)
Dwyer, Schurr and Oh (1987) noted that this pattern applies to product life cycles, family life cycles and the relationship between consumers and businesses or businesses and businesses.
Within the Acquaintance portion, the 'first impression' stage, there are a number of things that motivate a consumer to attention-readiness to buy (Bettman, 1979). Among those, the important ones are:
Novelty, arousal and ambiguity (as the consumer does not know what to expect, but expects something) (Levinger, 1983)
Personal relevance (Celsi and Olson, 1988)
During the Buildup stage, partners are drawn into testing their level of tension and is hallmarked by risk-taking in terms of self-disclosure to determine whether the seller will indeed by a…