Retrospective: compatibility management: customer-to-customer relationships in service environments

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Martin, Charles L.

Charles L. Martin , (2016) "Retrospective: compatibility management: customer-to-customer relationships in service environments", Journal of Services Marketing 2016 30:1 , 11-15


Purpose - This paper aims to revisit Martin and Pranter's (1989) Journal of Services Marketing article, "Compatibility Management [...]", and by doing so, heighten service scholars' and practitioners' awareness of the historical and ongoing relevance of customer-to-customer (C2C) encounters, the challenges C2C encounters pose and the opportunities for future research. Design/methodology/approach - A combination of review and commentary approaches is taken to summarize the 1989 article, the circumstances of its conception, the topic's intersection with contemporary service topics and to illustrate the multi-faceted nature of C2C encounters and the challenges faced in their management. Findings - Investigated in a number of service contexts, C2C encounters continue to be relevant in a multitude of service environments where customers converge. Research limitations/implications - Because the evolution of service scholarship and practice is collectively shaped by an infinite number of people, events and sources, the attribution of effects to only one or a few influences is a highly subjective matter of interpretation. Practical implications - Because C2C encounters are part of customers' service experiences and can affect their satisfaction and patronage behaviors, service organizations can benefit by their efforts to influence C2C encounters. Social implications - The criteria customers use to react to other customers and the bases used by service organizations/personnel to manage C2C encounters may not always be morally, ethically or legally defensible. For example, the Napa Valley Wine Train incident of 2015 involved allegations of racial discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Originality/value - The retrospective analysis contributes to the field's understanding of the historical development of services marketing and provides fodder for future research.

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