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Segmenting customers by participation: An innovative path to service excellence

Sandy C. Chen (Department of Human and Consumer Sciences, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, USA)
Carola Raab (William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Sarah Tanford (William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 8 May 2017

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to report the results of a survey of diners’ behavior during production and consumption of dining services with three objectives. The first objective is to create customer segments that represent distinct patterns of customer participation in hospitality service encounters. The second objective is to profile these identified customer segments in terms of demographics, attitudes and behaviors. The third objective is to evaluate the relationship between customer participation segments and service outcomes.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected through an online survey of American casual dining customers. The data were analyzed using principal components factor analysis, cluster analysis on the factor scores, discriminant analysis that validated the group differences among clusters and multivariate analysis of variance on the cluster variables to determine the source of differences between groups.

Findings

The evidence showed that restaurant customers can be segmented into meaningful groups according to their reported behaviors and that level of participation is related to perceived service outcomes.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that service providers can use customer participation segments to understand those customers’ service needs and wants. They can then design service strategies tailored to the needs of target customer groups.

Originality/value

This study is the first to identify distinct segments based on hospitality customers’ roles and behaviors in service delivery. This study makes a significant contribution to the hospitality marketing literature by advancing the trend to improve service quality through a non-traditional approach, that is, by building partnerships with customers.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Caesar’s foundation.

Citation

Chen, S.C., Raab, C. and Tanford, S. (2017), "Segmenting customers by participation: An innovative path to service excellence", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 1468-1485. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-03-2015-0117

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited