Does “true” personal or service loyalty last? A longitudinal study
Purpose – The paper aims to use Dick and Basu's two-dimensional matrix that identifies four types of customer loyalty: true, spurious, latent and non-loyal. It seeks to investigate if these four distinct clusters of loyalty existed both in terms of loyalty to the individual service worker (personal loyalty) and loyalty to the firm (service loyalty). The paper also aims to examine the stability of the loyalty clusters. Design/methodology/approach – Using self-completion mail questionnaires, females over 18 who frequently used the service were surveyed at two time periods, 18 months apart. Of the original 341 respondents at time 1, only 137 (40 per cent) of these successfully completed the questionnaire at time 2. Findings – Even though the service context is such that the customer has the freedom of choice in selecting the service, the four loyalty clusters were found for both personal loyalty and service loyalty. Those customers who were originally classified as “true” loyals were the most stable group. Perceived credibility of the service worker and the length of the customer relationship with the service worker were found to be the main drivers of the type of customer loyalty cluster. Originality/value – This study provides further empirical support of the value of true loyal customers, defined in terms of both a positive relative attitude towards the object of loyalty and high repeat patronage behavior. A higher proportion of true loyal customers were retained by both the service worker and firm compared to the other loyalty types.