The impact of service provider emotional intelligence on customer satisfaction

Sally Kernbach (University of New England, Armidale, Australia)
Nicola S. Schutte (University of New England, Armidale, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Publication date: 1 December 2005



This study seeks to examine whether higher emotional intelligence displayed by service providers leads to greater customer satisfaction.


A community sample of 150 participants viewed video clips depicting a service provider displaying three different levels of emotional intelligence in high or low service difficulty transactions.


Higher emotional intelligence displayed by the service provider led to greater reported satisfaction with the service transaction. Further, there was an interaction between emotional intelligence of the service provider and transaction difficulty. In the low transaction difficulty condition there was progressively more satisfaction at each higher level of emotional intelligence of the service provider. In the high transaction difficulty condition, there was low satisfaction in the low service provider emotional intelligence condition, but no significant difference in satisfaction between the high and medium levels of service provider emotional intelligence.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of the research is that the study's experimental design sacrificed some external generalizability in order to maintain internal validity and obtain more definite information regarding the causal effects of service provider emotional intelligence on customer satisfaction. Future research might examine the replicability of the present results in a field study of actual service encounters.


The findings of the present study lend support to theoretically‐based claims of the importance of service provider emotional intelligence in determining customer satisfaction.



Kernbach, S. and Schutte, N. (2005), "The impact of service provider emotional intelligence on customer satisfaction", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 438-444.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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