The objective of this paper is to describe the teleological actions needed to assess and manage critical incidents that cause negative emotions in service encounters. Teleological actions are movements into the future that are believed to be move either towards a predictable/known or unpredictable/unknown state or condition. The authors distinguish between, define and apply three categories: transformative – ad hoc and present-based actions; formative – pre-determined and past-based actions; and rationalist – goal-directed and future-based actions.
A qualitative study, based upon a two-phase approach applying convenience and judgemental sampling, was used. Focussing on one teleological theory, a process of abductive matching was applied throughout the study. Abductive matching refers to recurring themes, patterns and categories that are uncovered through the iterative processes of analysis. The teleological framework structured and guided the data collection and empirical observations.
Seen through the perspective of teleological actions, the study enhances our understanding of the manner in which critical incidents generate negative emotions in service encounters. Through the same perspective, the investigation also reveals that the outcome of a negative service encounter depends upon the interactive interface between service provider and service receiver.
The teleological actions between service providers and service receivers in negative service encounters appear to be mediators between cause-and-effect on the one hand (critical incident and negative emotions) and a perceptual gap on the other (outcome of negative service encounter). The teleological perspective also provides numerous opportunities for further research in this area.
Managers should strive to understand the teleological actions potentially undertaken by service receivers, so that they can deal with the teleological actions of their front-line staff accordingly. The interactive interface between a service provider and a service receiver is crucial in assessing and managing critical incidents.
Based on teleological actions, the investigation provides both a valuable and complementary contribution on assessing and managing critical incidents and the negative emotions that are often triggered in the service-encounter interface between a service provider and a service receiver. Providers also need to educate their staff on what can occur and on how to react appropriately.
Padin, C., Svensson, G., Otero-Neira, C. and Høgevold, N. (2015), "New aspects of research to assess and manage critical incidents in service encounters: Teleological actions, interactive interface and perceptual gaps", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 27-51. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-05-2013-0205
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