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How some service firms have become part of “service excellence” folklore: An exploratory study

David Solnet (The University of Queensland, Ipswich, Australia)
Jay Kandampully (The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 21 March 2008




This paper aims to address the concept of customer advocacy through storytelling, urban legends and folklore. The main purpose of the paper is to identify firms that are frequent subjects of positive customer storytelling, and to examine these firms for common practices.


Following an assessment of various literature, this paper incorporates a two‐stage design. The first stage identifies a set of companies that are frequently the subject of customer service storytelling. The second stage takes a grounded theory approach, utilizing a thematic analysis of data collected in relation to the exemplar firms.


Ten exemplar firms were identified. Themes and sub themes were drawn from data about the firms and categorized into ten theme clusters. A single theme – related to customer and employee obsession – was determined to be the common thread. An assessment of customer and employee practices from the exemplar firms is provided to give illustrations of specific practices and beliefs.

Practical implications

When customers and non‐customers engage in positive dialogue, narrative and storytelling about a business, it is seen as the ultimate marketing outcome. By understanding some of the practices of firms that are subjects of customer service folklore, managers can gain insights into how customer and employee treatment strategies can be incorporated into their businesses.


Storytelling and myths have been examined (and utilised) from the perspective of organizational culture, communication and change – but rarely from the perspective of customer‐to‐customer communications.



Solnet, D. and Kandampully, J. (2008), "How some service firms have become part of “service excellence” folklore: An exploratory study", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 179-193.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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