Title: The quality of the relationships between fitness centres and their customers

Authors: Pinelopi Athanassopoulou, John Mylonakis

Addresses: University of Peloponnese, 5 G. Ritsou str., Nea Erithraia, 14671 Athens, Greece. ' 10 Nikiforou Str., Glyfada, 166 75 Athens, Greece

Abstract: Customer retention and loyalty has become possible through the development of long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with customers, especially in services, due to their intangibility. The paper reviews the literature on relationship quality and services and presents the findings of a qualitative study in fitness centres offering a multitude of athletic services. The results show that the customers| relational orientation, the customers| experience and expertise in athletic services, the similarity of the customer and provider and the relationship duration influence relationship quality in that context. Furthermore, the results show that the relationship quality increases when there is trust and commitment in the relationship, the customers are satisfied both with the service in general and with the different members of the staff they interact with, there are strong social bonds between the provider and the customers and the services are adapted to customer needs. Finally, a high relationship quality leads to higher customer retention and profitability and more positive word-of-mouth communications and references.

Keywords: relationships; relationship quality; relationship marketing; athletic services; fitness centres; sport marketing; customer retention; customer loyalty; trust; commitment.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2009.023243

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2009 Vol.5 No.3, pp.355 - 366

Published online: 15 Feb 2009 *

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