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Customer-company relationships are increasingly conducted via internet-based technologies. In this video, LENA STEINHOFF explains her work towards developing a theoretically grounded and managerially relevant framework for managing customer relationships online. Focusing on current business practices and extant research, Steinhoff identifies five aspects that distinguish the online customer-firm relationship from its offline counterpart. Suggesting that companies will only reap the full benefits of online relationship marketing if they pay attention to its inherent risks, Steinhoff calls for further research into the opportunities and challenges presented by emergent technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality.


Lena Steinhoff is an Assistant Professor of Service Management at the University of Rostock and a Research Fellow of the Sales and Marketing Strategy (SAMS) Institute. Having previously worked at the Universities of Paderborn (where she completed her PhD) and Washington (visiting scholarships in 2012 and 2015), Steinhoff’s main research interests include relationship marketing, customer loyalty and marketing strategy. Providing regular consultancy expertise to businesses, Steinhoff’s most recent book, Relationship Marketing in the Digital Age (co-authored with Robert W. Palmatier), was published by Routledge in 2019.


University of Rostock (Universität Rostock)

The University of Rostock is not only the oldest university in the Baltic Sea region and one of the oldest universities in Germany. The ceremonial opening of the university with a Faculty of Law, a Medical Faculty and the Facultas Artium took place on 12 November 1419 at Rostock’s St. Mary’s Church. Magister Petrus Stenbeke from Erfurt was elected as rector. He enrolled 160 students. The University of Rostock consists of nine traditional faculties and an additionel Interdisciplinary Fa-culty. The Interdisciplinary Faculty unities scientists and students of all disciplines in four major departments: ‘Life, Light and Matter‘, ‘Maritime Systems‘, ‘Ageing of the Individuals and of Society‘, and ‘Knowledge – Culture – Transformation‘. These departments represent the key research areas that have developed throughout the long tradition of the University, and contribute to honing the University’s profile through connecting its strengths by means of interdisciplinary and cross-curricular cooperation.   13,323 students in total were enrolled at the University of Rostock in winter term 2018/19. And it was 4,186 university entrants in 2018. The share of international students is above eleven percent. 2,178 students successfully completed their studies. Offering more than 150 courses of study (37 bachelor degree courses, 60 master degree courses and 37 state examination courses including teaching degrees), the University of Rostock is one of Germany‘s Universities with the widest range of aca-demic subjects. Beyond that, its Centre for Teacher Taining and Educational Research conducts research on education and works on improving the quality of teacher training. (Source: University of Rostock)
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Original publication

Online Relationship Marketing

Steinhoff Lena, Arli Denni, Weaven Scott and Kozlenkova Irina V.
Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Published in 2019

Reading recommendations

Relationship Marketing in the Digital Age

Steinhoff Lena and Palmatier Robert W.
Routledge Studies in Marketing
Published in 2019

Online Relationship Formation

Kozlenkova Irina V., Palmatier Robert W., Fang Eric, Xiao Bangming and Huang Minxue
Journal of Marketing
Published in 2017

The Effect of Electronic Word of Mouth on Sales: A Meta-analytic Review of Platform, Product, and Metric Factors

Babić Rosario Ana, Sotgiu Francesca, De Valck Kristine and Bijmolt Tammo H.A.
Journal of Marketing Research
Published in 2016

Data Privacy: Effects on Customer and Firm Performance

Palmatier Robert W., Martin Kelly D. and Borah Abhishek
Journal of Marketing
Published in 2017

Service Robots Rising: How Humanoid Robots Influence Service Experiences and Elicit Compensatory Consumer Responses

Mende Martin, Scott Maura L., van Doorn Jenny, Grewal Dhruv and Shanks Ilana
Journal of Marketing Research
Published in 2019
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