The Commitment-Trust Theory of Relationship Marketing


If you do not feel that you are effectively connecting with your clients (potential and existing) you may want to explore relationship marketing. It benefits both seller and customer by building a stronger bond between the two parties. If you’re interested in implementing relationship marketing into your marketing strategy, first study the various concepts involved, including the commitment-trust theory.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing is the process of attracting and keeping customers over a long period of time. The ultimate goal is a lifetime customer who continues to buy from your firm religiously over all other options. In order to achieve this you must implement customer satisfaction techniques, such as staying in contact with the customer through feedback forms and personal calls or providing long-time customers with attractive benefits to keep them interested. Another issue is developing trust between your company, its sales representatives and the customer.

Commitment-Trust Theory

The commitment-trust theory of relationship marketing states that companies must develop both commitment and trust with the customer in order to successfully retain him. In their white paper “Commitment-Trust Theory of Relationship Marketing,” marketing experts Robert. M. Morgan and Shelby D. Hunt name three reasons why these two issues are so important. It encourages cooperation between the two parties, discourages companies from putting short-term alternative clients in front of long-term clients and also allows them to feel more comfortable taking risks knowing that the customer is committed and trusts the company.

Building That Commitment and Trust

One of the most significant requirements of building that commitment and trust with a customer is to keep your promises. If you consistently keep your word on even the most minor issues, such as issuing a credit to the customer’s account on a certain day, that goes a long way in making the customer more relaxed and trusting over time. It is also important to have an official company policy with regard to customer service and the marketing plan so that all employees are on the same page. If even just one employee fails to meet customer expectations that could completely destroy the customer’s commitment to and trust of the entire company.

Other Considerations

Relationship marketing and the theories behind this concept are sometimes harder to implement in an actual scenario with a customer. Some customers already go into certain types of transactions, like car or electronic sales, with a mistrust of the sales person. So you may have to work harder (or smarter) to establish and maintain trust with that person. Building commitment and trust is not an instant process — it can take months or even years and requires consistency on your part as the company’s representative.

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