An examination of proactive relationship approach with retail customers
In the current era of intense competition, retailers are increasingly leveraging relationship marketing to attract, retain, and strengthen relationships with customers. Better understanding of the influence and efficacy of relationship investment strategies has therefore become critical to both marketers and retailers. While there are multiple studies of firms' interactions with customers, most of this research is on firms' reactions in retail contexts with relatively few studies evaluating the potential benefits of proactively interacting with customers. This study examines the age-old issue of whether it is better to "get to customers before they get to you" by assessing the relative efficacy of proactive and reactive relationship approaches in retail settings. Reciprocal reaction theory serves as the foundation for the dissertation that proactive interaction more favorably influences customers' emotions and behavioral intentions toward the firm than reactive interactions. Given that a proactive relationship approach may not be an optimal strategy in every situation, firm and customer-related moderators that may influence the effectiveness of proactive relationship approach are also assessed. The study hypotheses are tested with data from two scenario-based experiments. The study findings are expected to extend the relationship investment strategy literature and provide actionable guidance for retail organizations about effectively conducting interactions with customers.