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Purpose The aim of the current paper is to investigate conceptually the relationship between the customer's engagement and equity, and to determine whether customer engagement could be positively enhanced by business to business (B2B) firms to maximize their customer equity, through examining the role of cognitive, emotional and behavioral engagement. Design/methodology/approach This paper is built on the evolving marketing literature and proposes a comprehensive framework that (a) uses a multidimensional conceptualization for the customer's engagement and equity constructs; (b) examines the relationships between customer satisfaction, commitment, trust and involvement, and customer engagement; and (c) specifies the specific customer engagement dimensions, cognitive, emotional and behavioral, as key mediators of the engagement–equity relationship. Findings This paper indicated that customer engagement is a multidimensional construct with three dimensions: cognitive, emotional or behavior engagement. customer's satisfaction, commitment, trust and involvement would be regarded as antecedents to customer engagement. whereas, customer equity would be regarded a consequence for customer engagement. In addition, this paper identified three drivers of customer equity; value, brand and relationship equities based on reviewing the previous studies. Originality/value This paper integrates philosophies from previous marketing studies of customer relationship management and customer engagement and equity into a B2B environment in a more customercentric approach.
In summary, although several previous studies presented customer engagement as one of the most important emerging concepts in the marketing domain, the current paper contributes by applying the emerging literature of customer engagement in the B2B environment.
First, exploring the different concepts of customer engagement as attitude, behavior or value based, Brodie et al. (2011) defined engagement as a psychological state formed from customer experiences based on dealing with a specific element of the brand. Whereas levels of customer engagement differ, and depending on situations, defined engagement as an attitude. On the other hand, other researchers (Van Doorn et al., 2010) defined engagement as behavioral manifestations that a customer exerts towards a company or a brand. Consequently, according to that definition, taking an action or behavior is the basic element distinguishing between engaged or disengaged customers.
A general definition that covers all customers’ activities was introduced by Pansari and Kumar (2017) they defined engagement as the process of a customer's value addition to the firm. This study showed the importance of engagement, since disengaged customers may cause dissatisfaction with firms through negative word-of-mouth or reviews or any other behavior; therefore, engagement might include negative effects as well as positive ones (Van Doorn et al., 2010).
Second, reviewing previous studies indicates that the engagement process had an iterative nature which made consequences of engagement relations antecedents in other sequential engagement cycles (Hollebeek, 2011; Brodie et al., 2011).