Unraveling the Customer Education Paradox

When, and How, Should Firms Educate Their Customers?

Simon J. Bell, Sei Auh, Andreas B. Eisingerich

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    7 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Customer education or the extent to which firms are seen as providing customers with the skills and abilities to utilize critical information is often considered a valuable augmentation to a firm’s service offerings. Yet, many firms are hesitant to invest in customer education efforts for fear that it will equip customers with the skills to shop around and possibly switch providers. The purpose of this research is to understand the circumstances under which customer education ties customers more closely to a firm or encourages customers to leave. Specifically, our studies show that an understanding of this paradox of customer education lies in the specificity of customer expertise that is built as a result of customer education initiatives. The results demonstrate that educating customers for firm-specific expertise leads to increased loyalty, while building market-related expertise may decrease customer loyalty. A critical practical implication of our findings therefore is the need for managers to understand the varying effects of enhancing customers’ firm-specific versus market-related expertise and to consider customer education initiatives proactively.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)306-321
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Service Research
    Volume20
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

    Fingerprint

    customer
    Education
    firm
    education
    expertise
    customer ties
    loyalty
    Paradox
    Managers
    Switches
    market
    manager
    anxiety
    Expertise
    ability

    Keywords

    • customer centricity
    • customer education
    • customer expertise
    • loyalty
    • switching costs

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Information Systems
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

    Cite this

    Unraveling the Customer Education Paradox : When, and How, Should Firms Educate Their Customers? / Bell, Simon J.; Auh, Sei; Eisingerich, Andreas B.

    In: Journal of Service Research, Vol. 20, No. 3, 01.08.2017, p. 306-321.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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