Supplier-perceived customer value in business-to-business security service: Dissertation

Mervi Murtonen

Research output: ThesisDissertationMonograph


Although customer value of business-to-business service is by definition determined by the customer, it is essential also for the service suppliers to understand the value of their service for the customer. In business support service, service suppliers' thorough understanding of customer value is particularly relevant, since the market is often highly competitive, price-sensitive and customers tend to perceive business support service as of a secondary nature. Alongside other business support services, the field of business-to-business security service is witnessing all these challenges. In addition, they are dealing with security as a service content that is often related to intangibility and subjectivity and reactive and reluctant service procurement. In spite of their relevance for various industrial sectors, the concepts of supplier-perceived customer value, business support service, business-to-business security service and security as service content have remained relatively unexplored in previous research, however, which increases the relevance of the current study. The general aim of this study is to increase the understanding of supplier-perceived customer value in the context of business support service. The more specific purpose is to explore how security service managers perceive customer value in business-to-business security service. Adopting a qualitative research process and following the research approach of grounded theory, the work consists of two interlinked empirical phases and uses personal interviews with managers from seven security companies as the research data. The first empirical phase examines security suppliers' concerns about the customer value. It introduces six different concerns and concludes that customer closeness is the main concern of the informants of this study. After that, the theoretical framework is expanded and the study is situated within the body of related literature. The literature review leads the second empirical phase of this study to explore how the theoretical concepts of value communication and relational adaptations are used to enhance customer closeness in business-to-business security service. The results of this study show that security suppliers hold multifaceted perceptions of customer value, characterised by supplier efficiency and value-based differentiation. Through enhanced customer closeness the security suppliers try to shift the focus away from transaction-oriented customer relationships and differentiate from their competitors. Customer closeness involves understanding customers better, keeping in contact with the customer, communicating customer value effectively, integrating security service operations with the customer's processes, and adjusting to changing customer needs. The results also indicate that business support service suppliers could use their multidimensional perceptions of customer value more effectively to develop stronger value argumentation and more purposeful selection of inter firm and intra firm adaptations. The theoretical contribution of this study is fourfold. First, the study provides empirical evidence of the managerial perceptions of customer value, which are not limited to the traditional trade-offs between customer benefits and sacrifices. Second, this study adds to the discussions on business support service, and highlights the importance of the service content in the analysis of value creation and customer relationships. Third, this study is a valuable supplement to the existing body of both conceptual and empirical research examining private security companies and security professionals. Finally, this study presents rather unusual selection of qualitative research methods. Managerially, this study provides both the security suppliers and their customer companies with new knowledge of value in business-to-business security service and discusses the activities through which both value and customer closeness can be enhanced.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor Degree
Awarding Institution
  • Tampere University of Technology (TUT)
  • Martinsuo, Miia, Supervisor, External person
Award date13 Sept 2013
Place of PublicationEspoo
Print ISBNs978-951-38-8015-6
Electronic ISBNs978-951-38-8016-3
Publication statusPublished - 2013
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)


  • customer value
  • business-to-business service
  • security service
  • grounded theory
  • customer closeness


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