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Abstract

This study investigates the role that service attributes, customer subgoals, and goals play in forming the satisfaction judgment. Drawing on means-ends chain theory, and on satisfaction research, satisfaction is conceptualized as the result of a process in which customers activate multiple comparative referents. In a pilot study, a paper-and-pencil laddering technique was used to collect attributes and goals connected to the satisfaction judgment. These elements were then used as items in a satisfaction survey of 200 customers. A mixture regression model revealed that both attribute-related dimensions and goal-related dimensions determine overall satisfaction, albeit not homogeneously among customers. Two customer segments were identified: Socializers, whose satisfaction is driven primarily by the goal of well-being, and Achievers, whose satisfaction is generated mainly by the goal of efficiency. Two directed graphs describe the satisfaction path of the two groups of customers, illustrating how service attributes are connected to the satisfaction of lower-order and higher-order goals. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.