The chain from customer satisfaction via word-of-mouth referrals to new customer acquisition

Wangenheim, Florian v.; Bayón, Tomás
June 2007
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science;Summer2007, Vol. 35 Issue 2, p233
Academic Journal
It has often been argued that word-of-mouth (WOM) can contribute significantly to a firm's success in a variety of ways. Here, we analyze the functional linkage between customer satisfaction, WOM, and new customer acquisition. Using data from two empirical studies we conceptualize and test the direct, non-linear, and moderated relationship between satisfaction and WOM. We further explore the circumstances under which WOM leads to new customer acquisition using a logistic regression model. We do so for two groups (new customers and long-term customers) from the customer base of a large energy provider (n=688), and for a random sample of B2B customers (n=416) in the same market. Results indicate that the satisfaction-WOM link is non-linear and is moderated by several customer involvement dimensions. Based on our results, we demonstrate how the satisfaction-WOM-new customer acquisition link can enrich return on quality and satisfaction models. Further, we draw conclusions about how companies can make use of both the satisfaction-WOM and the WOM-new customer acquisition link for better allocating their marketing resources.


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