Switching barriers in business-to-business services: a qualitative study

Venkata Yanamandram, Lesley White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To investigate the determinants of behavioural brand loyalty amongst dissatisfied customers in the business-to-business (B2B) services sector. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative study was conducted, with 28 personal interviews undertaken with managers who are involved in the choice of service providers. The respondents belonged to 24 organisations located in Australia. Template analysis and eyeballing were techniques used to analyse the data collected. Findings: Assessment of the reasons why dissatisfied customers stayed with the service providers resulted in six categories. The categories were found to be, in order of decreasing frequency, impact of alternative providers, switching costs (18), others (17), inertia (14), investment in relationships (13), and service recovery (13). The results not only confirmed factors found in the literature, but also uncovered 11 other factors. Research limitations/implications: The sample size, whilst appropriate for qualitative research, should be considered adequate only for exploratory analysis and a further quantitative study is needed to validate the study. Practical implications: This study is important for those firms who have many prospective switchers because it is important to understand why these customers stay, and to what extent such firms can discourage such customers from leaving in both positive and negative ways. For those service firms that are attempting to attract these prospective switchers, an understanding of why they do not switch is important, as it will enable them to develop strategies to overcome these switching barriers and gain market share. Originality/value: This research is the first study to investigate in a single model a range of barriers to switching in a B2B services context. The results that confirmed categories found in the literature also discovered 11 other factors not evident in the extant literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-192
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal of Service Industry Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • brand loyalty
  • business-to-business marketing
  • customer satisfaction
  • services


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