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The effect of mindfulness on service encounter quality

Emma Junhong Wang (Department of Marketing, Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA)
Pierre R. Berthon (Department of Information Design and Corporate Communications, Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA)
Nada Nasr Bechwati (Department of Marketing, Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 28 December 2020

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021

1054

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the effect of employees’ state mindfulness, a short period of mindful presence, on the quality of the service they provide in a service encounter.

Design/methodology/approach

Three studies are conducted. A pilot study explores the relationship between state mindfulness and service encounter quality. Experiment 1 examines whether a 15-min mindfulness exercise results in an increase in service employees’ state mindfulness. Experiment 2 tests whether induced state mindfulness produces higher service quality and whether a reminding technique can prolong state mindfulness between service encounters.

Findings

The results demonstrate the following. First, that more mindful employees provide better service quality. Second, that a short, easily implemented, mindfulness exercise can reliably increase employees’ state mindfulness. Third, induced mindfulness has an impact on subsequent service quality in terms of reliability, assurance, empathy and responsiveness. These effects persist regardless of the service encounter structure (high vs low structure) or the degree of emotional labor involved (high vs low emotionally charged). Finally, the reminding technique developed as part of this research suggests that state mindfulness can be maintained between service encounters.

Research limitations/implications

As simulated (programmed) customers are used, independent evaluators to assess service quality are used. Service providers in this study are college students; future field studies should consider a wider range of service providers. The research focuses on state mindfulness; exploration of trait mindfulness offers future research opportunities.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research is the first to empirically examine the link between mindfulness and service quality. It shows that mindfulness can be induced, and through a reminding technique be maintained, and improve service quality across service interactions. This is a powerful finding for marketing managers, for it offers a new method to enhance service provision. Moreover, this research implies that the increase in service quality is likely to be accompanied by reduced job burnout: a double win for employees, employers and customers.

Keywords

Citation

Wang, E.J., Berthon, P.R. and Bechwati, N.N. (2021), "The effect of mindfulness on service encounter quality", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 453-472. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-05-2020-0170

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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