Customer education : definition, measures and effects on customer satisfaction
Despite companies' growing interest for customer education (for instance: Nikon, Orange, Sony) and the recent awareness in marketing literature of this concept (Hennig-thurau et al., 2005), research on customer education remains relatively scarce. Thus, the present research study aims to contribute to the development of knowledge on customer education. More specifically, it endeavours to clarify the concept of customer education and to understand and measure its outcomes on customer satisfaction, a key indicator of corporate performance. To achieve this goal, a literature review was conducted in order to provide an original conceptualization of customer education and its outcomes. Then, a reliable and valid scale to measure customer education was developed. Finally, an experimental procedure based on hypothetic-deductive methodology was performed. A structural model was built that depicts the effects of customer education on customer satisfaction and tested a set of hypotheses covering the mediating and moderating effects. The experimental fieldwork was conducted in partnership with the digital camera manufacturer Nikon France, on a sample of 321 customers. Structural Equation Modelling was used to test the hypotheses. The results of this research were twofold. First, a 5-item original scale to measure customer education was developed. The psychometric qualities of this scale were shown, using Churchill's procedure (1979). Second, a model which details the relationships between customer education and customer satisfaction was proposed and validated. The existence of two mediating variables was unveiled: product usage and product-usage related knowledge and skills. The moderating role of customer expertise with a product category was also substantiated. Keywords: customer education, customer satisfaction, product usage, product usage related knowledge and skills.