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Promoting customer engagement in service settings through identification

Hulda G. Black (Department of Marketing, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, USA)
Vincent Jeseo (Department of Marketing, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Leslie H. Vincent (Department of Marketing, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 1 February 2021

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021




The purpose of this paper is to empirically test some of the consumer engagement frameworks that have been previously proposed in marketing literature.


Data were gathered via surveys distributed to members of a health club in the USA. Results were analyzed using structural equation modeling.


We found the effects of satisfaction on intercustomer support – the assistance received from other customers within a service setting – to be fully mediated by customer identification. The strength and direction of effects differed based on the type of identification. They also found an effect of satisfaction on customer patronage frequency. This effect was fully mediated by customer–employee identification.

Practical implications

The findings illustrate that, in most cases, intercustomer support can be built and enhanced by focusing on customer identification. Both customer–company and customer–customer identification had a positive effect on social/emotional and instrumental support; however, they did not influence a consumer’s patronage frequency. Conversely, customer–employee identification decreased perceptions of instrumental support, but increased perceptions of social/emotional support and patronage frequency. While the findings indicate that identification with a firm’s employees drives a customer’s patronage, firms must decide if the benefits received from increased patronage are worth the decreased instrumental support.


Past research has demonstrated the benefits of intercustomer support at both the firm and customer level, yet little research has investigated what enhances intercustomer social support in an organization. The research answers this question and illuminates some specific mechanisms that mediate this effect. Additionally, while previous research indicates that intercustomer support drives objective outcomes such as firm performance and loyalty intentions, we instead found these outcomes to be driven by customer–employee identification.



Black, H.G., Jeseo, V. and Vincent, L.H. (2021), "Promoting customer engagement in service settings through identification", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 473-486.



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