Customer value in legal services : a contingency approach
Purpose Due to the recent economic crisis, competition has considerably increased in the legal profession in the Netherlands. However, marketing in legal services is mostly in its infancy and value research in this context is scarce. We therefore used a contingency approach in exploring the origin of customer value and the association with loyal behaviour in legal services for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Methodology Because professional services are effectively provided by means of a relationship, the emergence of value was studied in the interaction between lawyers and clients in an explorative way, by means of a case study: in-depth interviews with ten lawyers and ten SMEs led to provider and client perspectives on value driving in twenty-eight legal cases. The underlying research model was based on the Service logic for marketing (e.g. Grönroos and Voima, 2013), which proposes that interaction is conditional for the emergence of value. Findings We assumed that value could only derive from the interaction during the service encounter. Field findings however, confirmed that previous, current and anticipated service experiences influences value. Due to the credential character of legal services, antecedent recommendation of others and the track record of lawyers, for example, are also important value drivers. The relational value perspective appears to be insufficient in analysing the emergence of value in credence services, because value drivers outside the joint sphere help clients to reduce perceived purchase risks. Originality Our study enriches the limited literature and offers a more holistic understanding of the origin of value in credential contexts like legal services. Our findings agree not only with insights from the Service logic (e.g. Grönroos and Voima, 2013) but also from the Customer-dominant logic (e.g. Heinonen et al., 2013).