The effects of soft and hard service attributes on loyalty: The mediating role of trust

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Abstract

Purpose - Drawing on social exchange and similarity attraction theories, the purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of soft attributes (e.g. social and relational attributes) on hard attributes (e.g. core attribute performance) in a high contact service context, namely in the hair care service environment. Design/methodology/approach - This research extends the key mediating variable model (KMVM) of Morgan and Hunt by hypothesising that, while trust fully mediates the effect of soft attributes on loyalty, trust only partially mediates the effect of hard attributes on loyalty. Data were collected using the critical incident technique from 176 students. Findings - Supports the fully mediating role of trust for soft attributes and a partially mediating role of trust for hard attributes. Research limitations/implications - Future research should test the model in contexts that involve less employee-customer contact and interaction. Originality/value - The study underscores the practical importance of investing in non-core (soft attributes such as social and relational attributes that focus on social bonding) attributes in addition to core attributes (hard attributes such as performance excellence of key service delivered) in service marketing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Customer loyalty
  • Social interaction
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing

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