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Positive social behaviors and suggestive selling in the same service encounter

Magnus Söderlund (Center for Consumer Marketing, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 4 July 2013




This study aims to examine customers’ reactions in service encounters in which the customer contact person (CCP) initially engages in positive social behaviors and then turns to suggestive selling.


An experimental between‐subjects design was employed. The participants interacted in a service encounter with a CCP who engaged in positive social behaviors. At the end of the service encounter, participants were exposed to: no suggestive selling; congruent suggestive selling; or incongruent suggestive selling.


Customers’ intentions to buy additional products were lower in the two suggestive selling conditions than in the condition without suggestive selling. This outcome should be viewed in light of the contrast effect that occurs when the CCP's role comprises both rapport‐building activities and sales activities: suggestive selling near the end of a service encounter may “break the spell” of initial positive social behaviors. However, in terms of the customer's attitude toward the CCP, it was mainly the incongruent suggestive sales attempt that had a negative effect, presumably because congruent suggestive selling contrasts less with positive social behaviors than incongruent suggestive selling.


Researchers have acknowledged that many CCPs who are instructed to engage in positive social behaviors in service encounters are under increasing pressure to also actively engage in sales efforts. However, few studies have examined the reactions of customers exposed to both activities within the same service encounter.



Söderlund, M. (2013), "Positive social behaviors and suggestive selling in the same service encounter", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 305-320.



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