Waiting Line Management

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Waiting time influence on the
satisfaction-loyalty relationship
in services
Fre´de´ric Bielen
HEC Ecole de Gestion, Universite´ de Lie` ge, Lie`ge,
Belgium and Ecole de Sante´ Publique, Universite´ Catholique de Louvain, Louvain, Belgium, and
Nathalie Demoulin
IESEG School of Management, Catholic University of Lille, Lille, France Abstract
Purpose – Delay is an important issue for service providers. Indeed, previous studies have widely shown the negative effect of waiting time on consumer service satisfaction. However, being satisfied with the service seems to be insufficient for customers to remain loyal. Creating customer loyalty is even more crucial than just satisfying them. The paper aims to investigate how customers weigh up their service satisfaction and waiting time satisfaction in order to determine whether they will remain loyal or not.

Design/methodology/approach – A survey was conducted in the Belgian health care industry. The final sample includes 946 respondents. Regression analyses were performed and the Baron and Kenny method used to test moderator and mediator impacts of variables. Findings – The results confirm that waiting time satisfaction is not only a service satisfaction determinant, but it also moderates the satisfaction-loyalty relationship. Moreover, determinants of customer waiting time satisfaction include the perceived waiting time, the satisfaction with information provided in case of delays, and the satisfaction with the waiting environment. In addition, it is shown that waiting time satisfaction is a complete mediating variable in the perceived waiting time and service satisfaction link.

Originality/value – The paper suggests several implications about the waiting time impacts on service satisfaction and customer loyalty. They show the importance of this variable in the service process and explain how to improve it.

Keywords Customer loyalty, Customer satisfaction, Service levels Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Many service companies worry about the length of their queues because customer waiting time is considered as having a negative influence on consumer service perception. Time is valued by both partners. On the one hand, service companies may lose transactions if waiting time is too long; and on the other, consumers consider waiting time as a sacrifice to get the service. It is one of the reasons that more and more service customer-oriented companies position their offer on time advantage for consumers. Lovelock and Gummesson (2004) insist on the central role played by time in most services and recommend paying more attention to improving the understanding of how customers perceive, budget, consume and value time. Several research studies focus on the relationship between waiting time and satisfaction (Hui and Tse, 1996; Pruyn and Smidts, 1998). Many other studies The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www.emeraldinsight.com/0960-4529.htm

MSQ
17,2
174
Managing Service Quality
Vol. 17 No. 2, 2007
pp. 174-193
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0960-4529
DOI 10.1108/09604520710735182
emphasize the link between customer satisfaction and their loyalty (e.g., Anderson, 1994; Dick and Basu, 1994; Fornell et al., 1996; Selnes, 2001; Mittal and Kamakura, 2001; Olsen, 2002). Very few studies focus on the influence of waiting time satisfaction on loyalty and that is confined to the fast food industry (Law et al., 2004). To the best of our knowledge, no study has yet evaluated the influence of waiting time or waiting time satisfaction on the satisfaction-loyalty relationship.

The objective of this research is threefold. We look into the determinants of waiting time satisfaction and examine the mediating role of the latter variable between these determinants and the service satisfaction. We also investigate the influence of customer waiting time satisfaction on the existing relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty. A major...
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