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Dimensionality of frontline employee friendliness in service encounters

Melanie F. Boninsegni (Department of Management, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland) (Department of Marketing, IPAG Business School, Paris, France)
Olivier Furrer (Department of Management, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Anna S. Mattila (School of Hospitality Management, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 7 October 2020

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021




This article explores four dimensions of frontline employee (FLE) friendliness (humorous, informal, conversational, and approachable) to propose a relevant measurement instrument of the influence of FLE friendliness on relationship quality and perceived value, as well as its indirect influence on repatronage intentions. Recent studies suggest FLE friendliness, defined as a tendency to convey an affective customer–employee social interaction, is a critical determinant of relationship marketing, but few scholars agree on its dimensionality. This study seeks a deeper understanding of FLE friendliness by investigating its different dimensions in various service contexts.


The mixed-method design, including both qualitative and quantitative research, offers a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of FLE friendliness.


The content analysis suggests FLE friendliness is multidimensional and composed of humorous, informal, conversational, and approachable behaviors. The results of a quantitative survey, conducted across four service contexts, validate this four-factor model. A second quantitative survey across two service contexts reveals the weights and relative importance of the dimensions, and then a third quantitative survey across three service contexts confirms that FLE friendliness is a significant driver of relationship quality, perceived value, and repatronage intentions (indirectly).


This study contributes to relationship marketing literature by strengthening the conceptual foundations of FLE friendliness, clarifying the dimensionality of the construct, developing a comprehensive measurement instrument, and extending previous research on the customer–employee interactions.



Boninsegni, M.F., Furrer, O. and Mattila, A.S. (2021), "Dimensionality of frontline employee friendliness in service encounters", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 346-382.



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