Measuring customer experience throughout the customer journey : evidence from the transport sector
KeywordsCustomer journey ; Customer experience ; Experiencescape ; Social Interactions with employees ; Social Interaction with customers ; Behavioral intentions ; Marketing ; Transport ; Passenger shipping ; Tourism ; Ferry industry ; Ταξίδι του πελάτη ; Εμπειρία του πελάτη ; Στοιχεία χώρου εμπειρίας ; Κοινωνική αλληλεπίδραση με εργαζόμενους ; Κοινωνική αλληλεπίδραση με πελάτες ; Προθέσεις συμπεριφοράς ; Μάρκετινγκ ; Μεταφορές ; Eπιβατηγός ναυτιλία ; Τουρισμός ; Ακτοπλοΐα
"Customer experience" and "customer journey" are newly introduced concepts in the science of services marketing, and both their theoretical and empirical study in the shipping industry are absent from the literature. One of the primary objectives of this thesis is to examine how social interactions (passenger-to-passenger and passenger-to-crew) and the elements of the environment in which the transport service experience takes place (experiencescape), affect customer experiences and their emotions during the customer journey. The dissertation also aims to investigate the extent to which the customer experience influences the relationship between customers' emotions and their behavioral intentions and to examine whether their cultural characteristics (e.g., nationality) influence the relationships between emotions - experience and experience - behavioral intentions. Finally, it seeks to gather data that will help fill these research gaps not only in the passenger shipping industry but also in the transport and tourism sectors. A large-scale survey was conducted in the field of transport and tourism and, more specifically, in the ferry shipping industry. The random sampling methodology was employed, and a structured questionnaire was administered to almost 978 respondents. The questionnaires have been translated into three languages (English, Greek, and Italian). The survey consists of two phases (phase A and phase B). In Phase A, customers (passengers) must complete Part 1, which aims to measure customers’ emotions during the first half of the journey. In Phase B, customers (passengers) must complete Part 2 and Part 3. Part 2 aims to measure customers’ emotions during the second half of the journey, and Part 3 aims to assess the experiencescape of the service, the customer experience, the social interaction with the employees (crew/officers), the social interaction with the other customers (passengers), the personal characteristics and the behavioral intentions of the customers. The data were analyzed through Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses as well as Regression and T-test Analyses. The findings confirm that customers experience emotional differentiation (emotional changes) during the onboard customer journey. Also, the findings indicate that Experiencescape, Social interaction with employees and Social interaction with other customers affect customers’ emotions during the journey, as well as their customer experience. Furthermore, the results verified, on the one hand, the mediating role of Customer experience in the relationship between customers’ emotions and customers’ behavioral intentions and, on the other, the moderating role of customer’s nationality in the relationship between customer’s emotions - customer’s behavioral intentions, customers’ emotions - customer experience and customer experience – customers’ behavioral intentions. Customer journey, as a relatively new concept in the bibliography, hasn’t received much academic attention yet. There are few empirical studies in the literature regarding customer journey and especially real customer journeys; thus many researchers highlight the necessity for research based on a real customer journey rather than a recall. Also, so far, there is no other study that assesses the examined relationships of this thesis, and there has been no research on these relationships in the passenger shipping services context. As a consequence, the hypotheses of this thesis are empirically assessed for the first time, while this is also the very first time that a real customer journey in the ferry shipping industry is empirically assessed.