Lili Wenli Zou, University of Hong Kong
Chi Kin (Bennett) Yim, University of Hong Kong
Kimmy Wa Chan, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Managers increasingly find that customer satisfaction does not universally translate into loyalty. Rather, practitioners and researchers alike are now arguing that firms should go beyond customer satisfaction to achieve customer delight. However, the underlying process leading to customer delight and whether customer delight can indeed perform better than customer satisfaction in driving customer loyalty are unclear. This study examines the drivers and effects of customer delight through a field study of a loyalty program for B2B customers implemented by a global commercial bank in Hong Kong. Results show that perceived surprise and exclusivity drive customer delight through an increase of self-enhancement. Unpredictability of the loyalty program further moderates the effects of surprise and exclusivity on customer delight differently. Specifically, the effect of surprise (exclusivity) is strengthened (weakened) by unpredictability. Moreover, customer delight is found to have an enduring positive and stronger effect than customer satisfaction on customer loyalty (measured by customers’ post-program [6 months after the completion of the program] account balance increment). This paper contributes to the customer delight and loyalty literature by making an initial attempt to examine the effect of customer delight on customer loyalty in a B2B context with longer-term behavioral loyalty data collected from a real world loyalty program. Our research also reconciles the inconsistent findings regarding the determinants of customer delight by identifying its underlying process with boundary condition.
This is a working paper.