Trust in client-service provider relationships
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In the age of rapidly changing and competitive environments, companies are forced to build strong and long-lasting relationships with their customers. Over the last decades, marketing theory and practice developed a plethora of attempts to describe relevant factors, underlying correlations and complex constructs, explaining the relationship between buyer and seller. For several disciplines, which are part of, describe or influence the relationship between buyer and seller such as a) marketing, b) customer purchase behaviour and c) sales management and personal selling, it appears that trust has a strong impact and therefore is an important variable for building long-lasting relationships. Although there is an extensive source of literature available on appropriate response to trust and its influence on buyer seller relationships, few of these writings contain guidance specifically related to financial services. The objectives of this study are I) to determine general differences regarding the impact of trust in a finance and insurance advice setting, ii) to determine difference of the general importance of trust towards three dimensions, iii) to analyse through which antecedents client-trust is build towards these three dimensions and iv) to identify the role of trust in future interactions between a financial service company and its clients. To achieve these objectives, quantitative research was undertaken in Germany by conducting a mail survey to 1.394 existing clients of an independent financial advisory institution. The phases of research cover a broad literature review combined with informal background research to identify variables that build trustlinvoke the trust building process to examine differences and/or additional variables to the descriptions in the literature. Prospective clients seem to generally support variables provided by the literature findings. The main research phase involves a mail survey to 1.394 existing clients with 321 responses. It is aimed at identifying relevant answers to the issues i)-iv) as described above. The results of the mail survey suggest differences between different client segments according to e. g. their educational background as well as their stage on the life cycle of financial services. Additionally, to validate the empirical findings, interviews were performed with 20 independent financial advisors which are aimed at identifying relevant answers to the above mentioned issues ii)-iv) from an advisor's point of view. The results suggest differences within the group of advisors according to e. g. demographic criteria. The results indicate that trust seems to be an important factor for the relationship between client, advisor and financial service provider.N evertheless,d ifferencesc oncerningt he influenceo f trust on the interpersonal relationship between the client and the financial advisor as well as its influence on the organisational relationship between client and financial service organisation can be observed and have to be addressed in the future. Moreover, also the differences related to the relevance of trust for the internal relationship between the financial service advisor and its organisation needs further attention. A framework of three dimensions of relationship marketing activities is introduced which may assist financial service companies to Implement a trust based relationship marketing approach. This should cover 1) an internal relationship marketing dimension, ii) an external relationship marketing dimension and iii) an interactive relationship marketing dimension. As a result, the company should become more trustworthya nd further more be enabledt o build strongerr elationshipsw ith their clients.
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