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Modeling service friendship and customer compliance in high‐contact service relationships

Jiun‐Sheng Chris Lin (Department of International Business, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan)
Chia‐Chuan Hsieh (Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei, Taiwan)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




The success of many high‐contact services depends on customers' compliance with providers' instructions. While existing service marketing literature urges increased attention to customer compliance, there is, to date, little research investigating its role of compliance in service settings. Based on social cognitive theory, this study aims to fill this important research gap, developing and testing a model to explore the antecedents and consequences of customer compliance in high‐contact service settings. Service friendship is included as a mediator between the antecedents and compliance. Two control variables, relationship duration and contact frequency, were also included in the model.


A research framework is proposed to suggest the antecedents and consequences of both service friendship and customer compliance. Extant research from various research streams is reviewed, deriving 11 hypotheses. Data collected from customers of high‐contact service industries are examined through structural equation modeling.


Results show that the service provider's social skills, customer orientation, and expertise are positively related to service friendship and customer compliance, which in turn affect customer satisfaction and anticipated future interaction. The control variables are also both positively associated with service friendship and anticipated future interaction.

Research limitations/implications

This research represents an early attempt at explaining what affects customer compliance in high‐contact service settings. Future research directions are discussed, with emphasis on incorporating customer characteristics, service interaction characteristics, and employee viewpoints to better understand service friendship and compliance in different service settings.

Practical implications

Customer compliance is a vital component of high‐contact service interactions between employees and customers. Service managers should encourage the formation of customer compliance in conjunction with service friendship to achieve better service outcomes.


This study represents the first study in the service marketing literature to establish a model that explains the mechanism of customer compliance in general service settings. The addition of two control variables representing relationship quantity also enhances the originality and contribution of this study.



Lin, J.C. and Hsieh, C. (2011), "Modeling service friendship and customer compliance in high‐contact service relationships", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 22 No. 5, pp. 607-631.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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