The impact of service characteristics on the switching costs-customer loyalty link

Markus Blut*, Sharon E. Beatty, Heiner Evanschitzky, Christian Brock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research investigates the interrelationship between service characteristics and switching costs and makes two contributions to the service retailing literature: (1) As a means of better understanding the effectiveness of switching costs, the study suggests a two-dimensional typology of switching costs, including internal and external switching costs and (2) it reveals that the effect of these switching costs on customer loyalty is contingent upon four service characteristics (the IHIP characteristics of service). We carried out a meta-analytic review of the literature on the switching costs-customer loyalty link and created a hierarchical linear model using a sample of 1,694 customers from 51 service industries. Results reveal that external switching costs have a stronger average effect on customer loyalty than do internal switching costs. Moreover, we find that IHIP characteristics moderate the links between switching costs and customer loyalty. Thus, the link between external switching costs and customer loyalty is weaker in industries higher in the four service characteristics (as compared to industries lower in these characteristics), while the opposite moderating effect of service characteristics for the internal switching costs-loyalty link is noted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-290
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Retailing
Issue number2
Early online date17 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of retailing. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Blut, M, Beatty, SE, Evanschitzky, H & Brock, C, 'The impact of service characteristics on the switching costs-customer loyalty link' Journal of retailing, vol 90, no. 2 (2014) DOI htp://dx.doi/10.1016/j.jretai.2014.04.003


  • customer relationships
  • hierarchical linear modeling
  • meta-analysis
  • service characteristics
  • service retailing
  • switching costs


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