When Designing Multiple Channels, Mirror Attributes Matter

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[We’re pleased to welcome Maik Hammerschmidt of the University of Göttingen in Germany. Dr. Hammerschmidt recently published an article in the OnlineFirst section of Journal of Service Research with Tomas Falk of Aalto University School of Business in Finland and Bert Weijters of Ghent University in Belgium entitled “Channels in the Mirror: An Alignable Model for Assessing Customer Satisfaction in Concurrent Channel Systems.”

Contrary to popular belief, customers who are shopping do not seem to change 02JSR13_Covers.inddmindsets when switching between offline and online channels. This finding—implying that the attributes consumers use for evaluating offline and online channels mirror each other—represents the punch line in our a recent study published in the OnlineFirst section of Journal of Service Research.

In our paper, we introduce the 5C model of customer satisfaction, which shows that five “mirror” features are mainly responsible for customer satisfaction in multichannel environments. Those channel features that have corresponding attributes in the counterpart channel should be the focus of designing parallel routes to market. The five “Cs” of satisfaction relate to choice (assortment breadth and depth), charge (availability of fair prices), convenience (efficiency of the purchase process), confidence (security of transactions), and care (assurance of promised quality).

The study shows that the 5C model improves on existing approaches for measuring multichannel performance because it lets the firm keep an eye on both offline and online satisfaction in a consistent manner. A unified view of channels helps marketers monitor the performance of basic shopping attributes in both traditional and digital formats. Only a monitoring instrument that uses similar measures for all channels will allow managers to meaningfully benchmark channel-specific satisfaction scores.

We see a further major benefit of the 5C metric in its direct linkage to the proportionate allocation rule. A channel’s investment should match its unexploited satisfaction potential. Therefore, managers ideally invest greater marketing effort in the channel indicating lower absolute satisfaction levels.

Interestingly, the 5C model is not limited to between-channel comparisons but can also be used to optimize within-channel decisions. For example, if convenience is more important for online satisfaction than price, firms should invest more in ensuring easy and efficient online transactions and skip the frequent online price promotions. Given the findings, we feel that while managing shared features of channels is a good starting point, channel-unique features need attention, too, particularly when each step of the shopping process involves a specialized channel or when expert customers are the target group.

You can read “Channels in the Mirror: An Alignable Model for Assessing Customer Satisfaction in Concurrent Channel Systems” from Journal of Service Research for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest news and research from Journal of Service Research? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!


Maik HammerschmidtMaik Hammerschmidt (PhD, University of Mannheim) is a chaired professor of marketing and innovation management at the Georg August University Göttingen, Germany. His research focuses on improving the financial performance of marketing activities, particularly in the areas of service marketing, multichannel management, social media marketing and CSR initiatives. He has coauthored and coedited four books on marketing performance and marketing efficiency and has published in journals such as Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Service Research, and Journal of Business Research. He has received numerous awards for his academic achievements, including an Overall Best Paper Award of the American Marketing Association.

Tomas FalkTomas Falk (PhD, University of Mannheim) is an associate professor of marketing at Aalto University School of Business, Finland, and an adjunct professor of marketing at EBS Business School, Germany. His research interest and expertise focus on service channel management, service quality management, self-service technologies, and service employee behavior. His research has been published in journals such as Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Service Research, and Journal of Business Research. He has won several research awards, including an Overall Best Paper Award of the American Marketing Association.

Bert WeijtersBert Weijters (PhD, Ghent University) is an assistant professor of consumer research at Ghent University, Belgium. His research focuses on survey methods in consumer research and has been published in leading journals in business and psychology, including Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Journal of Service Research, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Applied Psychological Measurement, and Psychological Methods.

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