This study draws on depth interviews with 49 managers in customer firms and 55 managers in supplier firms and on discussions with 21 managers in two focus groups to propose a new way of thinking about customer solutions. Extant literature and suppliers interviewed for this study view a solution as a customized and integrated combination of goods and services for meeting a customer's business needs. In contrast, customers view a solution as a set of customerâ€supplier relational processes comprising (1) customer requirements definition, (2) customization and integration of goods and/or services and (3) their deployment, and (4) postdeployment customer support, all of which are aimed at meeting customers' business needs. The relational process view can help suppliers deliver more effective solutions at profitable prices. In addition, field research suggests that the effectiveness of a solution depends not only on supplier variables but also on several customer variables. Supplier variables include contingent hierarchy, documentation emphasis, incentive externality, customer interactor stability, and process articulation. Customer variables include adaptiveness to supplier offerings and political and operational counseling that a customer provides to a supplier. Several of these variables underscore the importance of suppliers developing social capital with customers. The authors discuss implications for solution suppliers and identify areas for further research.
business-to-business relationships, solutions, services marketing, social capital, coproduction, customer relations, supplier relationship management
Journal of Marketing
TULI, Kapil; KOHLI, Ajay K.; and BHARADWAJ, Sundar G..
Rethinking customer solutions: From product bundles to relational processes. (2007). Journal of Marketing. 71, (3), 1-17. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/1055
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