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Social interactions in customer churn decisions: The impact of relationship directionality

Michael Haenlein

International Journal of Research in Marketing, 2013, vol. 30, issue 3, 236-248

Abstract: The impact of social factors on individual-level decision making has been a subject of general interest within the marketing field. However, studies analyzing social interactions and social contagion have, to a great extent, focused on the importance of social interactions in the customer acquisition process and have relied on the use of undirected networks. Our study contributes to the literature stream by focusing on two elements that have been analyzed less frequently. Specifically, we focus on the importance of social interactions in the customer retention process within a directed social network. Using the customer base of a mobile phone provider, we rely on call detail records to investigate the churn behavior of 3431 focal actors. We provide evidence for social interactions in customer churn decisions and show that, at any given point in time, a focal actor is significantly and substantially more likely to defect from a provider if other individuals to whom that actor is socially connected have previously defected from the provider. However, this effect is limited to social contacts with whom the focal actor has outgoing calling relationships and who have churned relatively recently (in our sample, less than 5weeks prior to the point in time that is under examination). We therefore provide empirical evidence demonstrating that social effects do play a role in customer retention but only when tie directionality and churn recency are taken into account.

Keywords: Customer retention; Social networks; Directed network; Undirected network; Stratified Cox Proportional Hazards model (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ijrema:v:30:y:2013:i:3:p:236-248