Managing customer relationships through price and service quality

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This paper examines the ways in which a service provider's policies on pricing and service level affect the size of its customer base and profitability. The analysis begins with the development of a customer behavior model that uses customer satisfaction and depth of relationship as mediators of the impact of price and service level on profitability. Based on this model of customer behavior, the system is analyzed as a queuing network from which the properties of the aggregate population's behavior are derived. The analysis reveals the counterintuitive result that a policy that involves a decrease in prices or an increase in service level may lead to a smaller customer base. However, this policy may also lead to higher profits. The novelty of this result lies in the explanation of the phenomenon: that when the customer base decreases due to a change in prices or service quality, companies may experience gains in profit that result not from a decrease in costs associated with serving fewer customers but from an increase in revenues resulting from the indirect effects of the lower prices or higher level of service on customer behavior. The application of optimization techniques to the model developed in this paper yields optimality conditions through which managers can assess the long-term profitability of their pricing and service-level policies.
Bibliographic citation: Bitran, Gabriel R.; Rocha e Oliveira, Paulo; Schilkrut, Ariel, "Managing customer relationships through price and service quality", IESE, DI-750-E, 04/2008
Date: 04/2008
Author(s): Bitran, Gabriel R.; Rocha e Oliveira, Paulo; Schilkrut, Ariel
Document type: Working Paper
Languages: English