The Service Network Experience: Customer Evaluations of Performance and Brand Image

Felicia N. Morgan, University of West Florida
Mary Jo Bitner, Arizona State University
Amy L. Ostrom, Arizona State University

In complex service situations such as healthcare, telecommunications, B2B service solutions, and hospitality, a customer’s service experience results from interactions with a set of service providers, all of whom deliver key components of the service solution. Such configurations of customer-facing firms that collectively co-produce a total service experience for customers are conceptualized as “service networks.” This research establishes the service network as an important unit of analysis in service research.

The results of two experiments show that the images and associations resulting from experiences with providers in the network can shape customer evaluations of other members of the network, in particular, the brand image of a focal firm. By explicating the nature of relationships between the firms within a particular type of service network from the customer’s point of view, this research provides a fresh operational perspective and practical implications for managing customer experiences, network relationships, and service brand strategies.

 

Working paper; research sponsored by the CSL