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Internal communication and the development of customer-oriented behavior among frontline employees

Ahmed Shahriar Ferdous (Department of Marketing, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia)
Michael Polonsky (Department of Marketing, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia)
David Hugh Blore Bednall (Department of Marketing, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 6 May 2021

Issue publication date: 2 September 2021

879

Abstract

Purpose

Frontline employees (FLEs) are a key source of competitive advantage for organizations and have a significant impact on the quality of customer–firm interactions. This study aims to use the stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) model as a theoretical lens to examine whether internal communication (IC) (stimulus) evokes FLEs’ organizational identification (emotional) and job satisfaction (cognitive), and whether these in turn shape FLE customer-oriented behavior (response). The study also tested whether these mediated relationships are moderated by perceived communication formalization.

Design/methodology/approach

The hypothesized mediated and moderated effects were tested using data collected from a cross-sectional survey of 293 full-time salespeople working for a large general insurance company.

Findings

Both organizational identification and job satisfaction simultaneously mediate the relationship between IC and customer-oriented behavior. Perceived communication formalization was found to weaken the mediated relationship between IC and customer-oriented behavior, but only when this is via job satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

This study has shown that where IC is positively viewed by FLEs, it can be leveraged as a key driver by organizations to evoke simultaneous positive emotional and cognitive reactions, leading to increased customer-oriented behavior.

Practical implications

This study informs both theory and practice related to effective IC among customer-contact FLEs.

Originality/value

The study shows how IC can simultaneously produce two simultaneous emotional and cognitive reactions leading to FLE customer-oriented behavior and how these mediated relationships can be moderated by perceived communication formalization. The study used the S-O-R model as the theoretical lens to test these relationships.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the following people for their helpful feedback and input in the drafting and revisions of this manuscript: Bulent Menguc (Kadir Has Üniversitesi), Aron OάCass (University of Tasmania), Michael Hyman (NMSU College of Business), Marion Steel (Deakin University), Andre Bonfrer (Deakin University) and Bernd Skiera (Goethe University Frankfurt and Deakin University).

Citation

Ferdous, A.S., Polonsky, M. and Bednall, D.H.B. (2021), "Internal communication and the development of customer-oriented behavior among frontline employees", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 55 No. 8, pp. 2344-2366. https://doi.org/10.1108/EJM-10-2019-0750

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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