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Article
Publication date: 24 May 2022

Sally Rao Hill and Alastair G. Tombs

The purpose of this study is to further our understanding of the effects of service employees’ accents on service outcomes and to investigate the boundary conditions of…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to further our understanding of the effects of service employees’ accents on service outcomes and to investigate the boundary conditions of service type, service criticality and accent-service congruence.

Design/methodology/approach

This study reports on three scenario-based experiments with between-subject designs to assess customer reactions to service employees with nonstandard accents.

Findings

The findings revealed that the three service-related extraneous factors investigated in this study influence the direction and strength of accent’s impact. Service employees’ nonstandard accents generally negatively influence customers’ satisfaction with a service provider and purchase intentions. This effect is stronger for credence services than for experience services. While customer satisfaction with the service encounter tends to stay the same regardless of service criticality, they have less purchase intention in high service criticality situations when they deal with service employee with a nonstandard accent. Accent-service congruence enhances both satisfaction and purchase intention.

Research limitations/implications

This study makes contributions to the accent in service interaction literature by enabling the authors to have a more complete understanding of how accent effects drive customer satisfaction and purchase intention. Future studies can take customer-related factors such as customer-service employee relationships, customers’ ethnic affiliation and ethnocentrism into consideration when examining the effects of accent in service interactions.

Practical implications

Service managers need to be aware when nonstandard accents’ negative effects will elevate – credence service and service with higher criticality are better provided by service employee with a standard accent. A nonstandard accent that matches the service improves customer satisfaction and purchase intention and could be used to its advantage.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the service literature about service employees’ interaction with customers and is particularly relevant in multicultural societies with increasingly diverse workforces.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 56 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

Content available

Abstract

Details

Journal of Service Theory and Practice, vol. 28 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2055-6225

Article
Publication date: 12 September 2018

Bo Edvardsson, Pennie Frow, Elina Jaakkola, Timothy Lee Keiningham, Kaisa Koskela-Huotari, Cristina Mele and Alastair Tombs

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of context in service innovation by developing a conceptual framework that illuminates the key elements and trends in…

2038

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of context in service innovation by developing a conceptual framework that illuminates the key elements and trends in context change.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper adopts a service ecosystem lens for understanding how elements and trends in context foster service innovation. A conceptual framework identifying the role of context change in fostering service innovation is developed and justified through illustrations across industry settings of health, retailing, banking and education.

Findings

Context change is conceptualized by three trends – speed, granularity and liquification – that provide an analytical foundation for understanding how changes in the elements of context – space, resources and institutional arrangements – can foster service innovation. The analysis indicates emerging patterns across industries that allow exploring scenarios, grounded in emerging trends and developments in service innovation toward 2050.

Practical implications

Managers are offered a framework to guide service innovation and help them prepare for the future. The paper also suggests areas for further research.

Originality/value

The paper contributes with a new conceptualization of context change to identify and explain service innovation opportunities. Managers are offered a framework to guide service innovation and help them prepare for 2050. The paper also suggests areas for further service innovation research, zooming in on contextual changes to prepare for 2050.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 29 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 4 November 2014

Alastair Tombs and Sally Rao Hill

The primary objective of this article is to investigate customer reactions to service employees with accents that differ from a non-native accent taking into account…

2692

Abstract

Purpose

The primary objective of this article is to investigate customer reactions to service employees with accents that differ from a non-native accent taking into account customer emotions.

Design/methodology/approach

This article reports on a study with a 2 (accent of service employee: Australian or Indian) × 2 (service employee’s competency: competent or incompetent) × 2 (customer’s affective state: positive or negative) between-subject experimental design to uncover the effects of service employees’ accent on customers’ reactions.

Findings

The findings revealed that hearing a service employee with a foreign accent was not enough on its own to influence customer responses. However, when the service employee is incompetent or the customer was in a negative affective state, a foreign accent appeared to exacerbate the situation.

Research limitations/implications

While the findings indicate that accents are used a cue for customers to evaluate service employees, further research should also take service types, service outcomes, customer-service employee relationships, customers’ ethnic affiliation and ethnocentrism into consideration when examining the effect of accents.

Practical implications

Service managers need to be aware that accents will exacerbate perceptions of already difficult service situations. Providing competent service will help breakdown stereotypes and improve the acceptance of diversity at the customer–employee interface.

Originality/value

This article contributes to the service literature about service attributes and is particularly relevant to economies such as the USA, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia where immigrants are a large part of the service work force.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 48 no. 11/12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 July 2014

Alastair G. Tombs, Rebekah Russell-Bennett and Neal M. Ashkanasy

– This study aims to test service providers’ ability to recognise non-verbal emotions in complaining customers of same and different cultures.

1831

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to test service providers’ ability to recognise non-verbal emotions in complaining customers of same and different cultures.

Design/methodology/approach

In a laboratory study, using a between-subjects experimental design (n = 153), we tested the accuracy of service providers’ perceptions of the emotional expressions of anger, fear, shame and happiness of customers from varying cultural backgrounds. After viewing video vignettes of customers complaining (with the audio removed), participants (in the role of service providers) assessed the emotional state of the customers portrayed in the video.

Findings

Service providers in culturally mismatched dyads were prone to misreading anger, happiness and shame expressed by dissatisfied customers. Happiness was misread in the displayed emotions of both dyads. Anger was recognisable in the Anglo customers but not Confucian Asian, while Anglo service providers misread both shame and happiness in Confucian Asian customers.

Research limitations/implications

The study was conducted in the laboratory and was based solely on participant’s perceptions of actors’ non-verbal facial expressions in a single encounter.

Practical implications

Given the level of ethnic differences in developed nations, a culturally sensitive workplace is needed to foster effective functioning of service employee teams. Ability to understand cultural display rules and to recognise and interpret emotions is an important skill for people working in direct contact with customers.

Originality/value

This research addresses the lack of empirical evidence for the recognition of customer emotions by service providers and the impact of cross-cultural differences.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 48 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 7 June 2016

Abstract

Details

Emotions and Organizational Governance
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-998-5

Book part
Publication date: 18 July 2007

Dominique A. Keeffe, Rebekah Russell-Bennett and Alastair Tombs

Service recovery strategies have been identified as a critical factor in the success of service organizations. This study develops a conceptual framework to investigate…

Abstract

Service recovery strategies have been identified as a critical factor in the success of service organizations. This study develops a conceptual framework to investigate how specific service recovery strategies influence the emotional, cognitive and negative behavioral responses of consumers, as well as how emotion and cognition influence negative behavior. Understanding the impact of specific service recovery strategies will allow service providers to more deliberately and intentionally engage in strategies that result in positive organizational outcomes. This study was conducted using a 2×2 between-subjects quasi-experimental design. The results suggest that service recovery has a significant impact on emotion, cognition and negative behavior. Similarly, satisfaction, negative emotion and positive emotion all influence negative behavior but distributive justice has no effect.

Details

Functionality, Intentionality and Morality
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-7623-1414-0

Article
Publication date: 15 November 2011

Sally Rao Hill and Alastair Tombs

The primary objective of this paper is to investigate the attitudes, feelings and perceptions of Australian consumers towards service frontline employees with accents that…

3813

Abstract

Purpose

The primary objective of this paper is to investigate the attitudes, feelings and perceptions of Australian consumers towards service frontline employees with accents that differ from Standard Australian English, taking into consideration service‐country image and customer emotions.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports on a qualitative study designed to uncover the attitudes and perceptions of Australians towards service personnel with foreign accents.

Findings

The findings revealed that hearing a service provider with a foreign accent, particularly in services encounters without face‐to‐face contacts, often evokes a negative predisposition to certain accents, reduces the customers' level of tolerance and increases the perception of the service provider's lack of understanding. This negative stereotype bias seems to be moderated by the accent (a proxy of ethnicity) and service‐country image and influenced by customer emotions in the service interaction.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies could also use a controlled experimental design where accent could be used as a sensory cue to further test the validity and reliability of the current findings while controlling for factors such as ethnic background, employment, education and age. Further research should also take service types and service outcomes into consideration in examining the effect of accents on customer service evaluation.

Practical implications

Accent as a service employee attribute influences customers' evaluation of the service encounter because of the stereotype customers have. Training in language skills, cross‐cultural interpersonal skills and authority to deviate from the script should be given to minimise the negative effect of service employee accent. Service firms also need to develop strategies to manage customer emotions and reactions.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the service literature about service employee attributes and is particularly relevant to economies such as the USA, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia where immigrants are a large part of the service workforce.

Book part
Publication date: 18 July 2007

Nalini Ambady is a Professor at Tufts University's Psychology Department, and conducts research on interpersonal judgment.

Abstract

Nalini Ambady is a Professor at Tufts University's Psychology Department, and conducts research on interpersonal judgment.

Details

Functionality, Intentionality and Morality
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-7623-1414-0

Book part
Publication date: 26 June 2012

Joanne Abbey

Abstract

Joanne Abbey

Details

Experiencing and Managing Emotions in the Workplace
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-676-8

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