Whereas transaction surveys focus on the immediate, and are tactical in nature, relationship surveys are more strategic, measuring in detail the relationship between customers and the company. They encompass perceptions of service and product quality, range and variety, competitiveness of the offering, and service culture and ambience.
The structure of the relationship survey is depicted in Exhibit 6.7. Whereas the transaction survey is centred on individual transactions, the relationship survey cuts across the totality of the relationship with the customer. As such, it should not be linked to the incentive scheme for line management and staff.
The first step in analysing the data from a relationship survey would be to summarize information contained in the large number of attributes into a smaller number of factors, through factor analysis.
Taking the hypothetical retail banking example, Exhibit 6.8 depicts the output of a factor analysis. Note that the factors are named post factor analysis by the researcher based on the attributes that define the factor. For instance, the attributes “Bank close to home/office”, “Convenient ATM locations” and “Superior internet banking facilities” suggest “Accessibility”.
Relationship surveys are usually conducted on a periodic basis, annually or quarterly. Since they tend to be relatively long, computer-aided phone interviews are preferred over online surveys.
While in theory customer satisfaction research adopts two different instruments (transaction and relationship survey), each serving a distinct purpose, in practice it is possible to combine the studies into a single hybrid survey. The hybrid, unlike the transaction survey, is more likely to be administered quarterly than on an ongoing basis. It is nonetheless feasible to link the feedback to specific transactions. And though this approach might not be as elegant as the separate transaction and relationship surveys, it does reduce costs.
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