Most firms are involved in a number of customer relationships that drain the firm's resources. However, many firms are hesitant to address this problem. This paper investigates customer relationship termination at the organizational level. We develop and analyze the organizational dimensions of organizational termination in order to improve our understanding of the management of termination. The impact of these termination dimensions on the percentage of unwanted customers is developed and tested using PLS on data gathered from a cross-sectional survey of more than 800 sales representatives. We find that a firm's percentage of unwanted customers decreases significantly as acceptance of termination increases, if the firm's definition of unwanted customers is well understood, and if a firm has clear termination routines. In addition, general focus on profitability and external constraints on relationship termination are found to significantly affect a firm's relationship termination competence. The findings suggest that managers should regard termination as a legitimate option in customer relationship management. In order to decrease the number of unwanted customers, managers must accept termination as a valid option, clearly define the types of customers that the organization does not want to serve, and implement termination routines within the organization.
Industrial Marketing Management, 2011, Vol 40, Issue 6, p. 988-993