Customer-perceived Value in Business Relationships
Abstract: The content of customer-perceived value has in this study been explored with the aim of providing an understanding of the concept. The evolving service-centered logic for marketing puts an emphasis on value, especially the value perceived and determined by the customer. Concurrently, a development is recognized within the industrial business-to-business sector where goods and services are packaged into total service offerings – with an increasing prominence for services. This is the background of the study. The study itself was conducted in order to elucidate the concept of customer-perceived value in a context where total service offerings are provided within dyadic business-to-business relationships. The conceptual framework, guiding the empirical study, has its points of departure in the field of service research. A case study conducted in the commercial aircraft engine maintenance industry has provided a description – depicted in value maps – of context-specific attributes forming the dimensions of customer-perceived value. It is suggested that customer-perceived value is created at three levels; at a product level, at a partnership level, and at a psychological level. Furthermore, the value maps clarify the double nature of customer-perceived value, which is found to have both an origin side – how the service provider should act to deliver value – and a side illuminating the more or less monetarily quantifiable effects of value. The origin and effect of customer-perceived value are proposed to be explained by a model where the notion of “flow” is central. Flows of goods, information, risk, involvement, and money intersect the value features and provide the sources of value on the origin side of customer-perceived value. The effects can be traced to the flows of revenue benefits, cost benefits, interest effects, and costs to use. Concurrently, flows both build, and are filtrated by, “trust” during the process in which the customer’s perception of value comes into being. On the effect-side of value, the concepts stochasticity and substantiality are introduced in order to capture the uncertainties that make translations into monetary terms difficult. The outcome of the abductive reasoning in the final phase of the investigation is a conceptual model – proposed as the main contribution of the study – summarizing aspects of customer-perceived value. My definition of customer-perceived value, together with a list clarifying the many facets of the concept, concludes the study.
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