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Testing the influence of real-time performance feedback on employees in digital services

Jonas Lechermeier (The Otto Beisheim Endowed Chair of Marketing and Commerce, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Düsseldorf, Germany)
Martin Fassnacht (The Otto Beisheim Endowed Chair of Marketing and Commerce, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Düsseldorf, Germany)
Tillmann Wagner (Chair of Services Marketing, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, Vallendar, Germany)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 4 June 2020

Issue publication date: 6 October 2020

1447

Abstract

Purpose

While digital media changed the nature of communication in service contexts, often allowing customers to interact instantly with service providers, the implications and opportunities for managing service employees are widely unknown. This is surprising, given that service employees are an important determinant of service firms’ success. This article examines the effects of real-time performance feedback on employees’ service performance and investigates both how and under what conditions timely feedback encourages employees’ engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Two experiments test the conceptual model and the proposed hypotheses. A field experiment uses real customer feedback gathered after interaction with the app-chat of a large telecommunications provider. It tests the effect of feedback timing on service employees’ performance and also examines the effect of feedback timing on their engagement. A subsequent scenario-based experiment then investigates the influence of selected moderators on the feedback timing–engagement relationship.

Findings

This article finds that real-time feedback leads to greater service performance than subsequent feedback. Furthermore, real-time feedback positively affects service employee engagement through the perceived controllability of the feedback and the service situation. Finally, feedback valence, task goals, individuals’ need for closure (NCL), and gender interact with feedback timing to influence employee engagement.

Originality/value

This research investigates the potential of real-time performance feedback for service firms, combines and extends a variety of literature streams, and provides recommendations for the future management of service employees.

Keywords

Citation

Lechermeier, J., Fassnacht, M. and Wagner, T. (2020), "Testing the influence of real-time performance feedback on employees in digital services", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 345-371. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOSM-10-2018-0341

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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