Encounter Satisfaction in E-tailing: Are the Relationships of Order Fulfillment Service Quality with its Antecedents and Consequences Moderated by Historical Satisfaction?
January 2014 | Heim, Gregory R.
This study focuses on whether historical satisfaction with an e-tailer (HSat) moderates baseline relationships in order fulfillment service quality models. HSat is defined as satisfaction with the e-tailer spanning all transactions except the current encounter. Encounter satisfaction (ESat) is defined as the consumer’s satisfaction with the current transaction. In the baseline model, four order fulfillment service quality (OFSQ) dimensions managerially relevant to consumer e-tailing are examined: timeliness, availability, condition, and billing accuracy. The baseline structural model results support that OFSQ dimensions impact ESat, which in turn predicts two key consequences—repurchase intention and word-of-mouth. Adaptation theory is used to model the role of HSat, while controlling for transaction recency, vendor familiarity, and competitive pricing. HSat is shown to have pervasive main and interaction effects upon all baseline model relationships. These moderation effects have great managerial relevance. For example, the results illustrate a phenomenon similar to the service recovery paradox, wherein when a negative service encounter is followed by a highly positive service recovery event, previously dissatisfied consumers, as compared to previously satisfied consumers, respond with higher levels of current satisfaction. For managers, this finding is encouraging because policies that create highly positive events for consumers can thus supersede past negative experiences. Our results show however that HSat cannot be completely superseded by current OFSQ or current ESat.