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Article

Daniel Belanche, Luis V. Casaló, Carlos Flavián and Jeroen Schepers

Service robots are taking over the organizational frontline. Despite a recent surge in studies on this topic, extant works are predominantly conceptual in nature. The…

Abstract

Purpose

Service robots are taking over the organizational frontline. Despite a recent surge in studies on this topic, extant works are predominantly conceptual in nature. The purpose of this paper is to provide valuable empirical insights by building on the attribution theory.

Design/methodology/approach

Two vignette-based experimental studies were employed. Data were collected from US respondents who were randomly assigned to scenarios focusing on a hotel’s reception service and restaurant’s waiter service.

Findings

Results indicate that respondents make stronger attributions of responsibility for the service performance toward humans than toward robots, especially when a service failure occurs. Customers thus attribute responsibility to the firm rather than the frontline robot. Interestingly, the perceived stability of the performance is greater when the service is conducted by a robot than by an employee. This implies that customers expect employees to shape up after a poor service encounter but expect little improvement in robots’ performance over time.

Practical implications

Robots are perceived to be more representative of a firm than employees. To avoid harmful customer attributions, service providers should clearly communicate to customers that frontline robots pack sophisticated analytical, rather than simple mechanical, artificial intelligence technology that explicitly learns from service failures.

Originality/value

Customer responses to frontline robots have remained largely unexplored. This paper is the first to explore the attributions that customers make when they experience robots in the frontline.

Details

Journal of Service Management, vol. 31 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1757-5818

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Article

Lin Zhang, Jintao Wu, Honghui Chen and Bang Nguyen

Drawing on the branded service encounters perspective, the purpose of this study is to investigate how frontline service employees’ environmentally irresponsible behaviors…

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on the branded service encounters perspective, the purpose of this study is to investigate how frontline service employees’ environmentally irresponsible behaviors affect customers’ brand evaluations.

Design/methodology/approach

The research conducted two experiments. The first experiment explored the effect of frontline service employees’ environmentally irresponsible behaviors on customers’ brand evaluations via corporate hypocrisy. The second experiment explored the moderation effect of employees’ prototypicality and the importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) among customers.

Findings

Experiment 1 indicates that for firms with a green brand image, frontline employees’ environmentally irresponsible behaviors result in customers’ perception that the firm is hypocritical, thus reducing their brand evaluations. Experiment 2 shows that employee prototypicality and CSR importance to the customer enhance the negative impact of frontline employees’ environmentally irresponsible behaviors on customers’ brand evaluations through customers’ perception of corporate hypocrisy.

Research limitations/implications

This study is one of the first efforts to explore how frontline service employees’ environmentally irresponsible behaviors affect customers’ responses. It helps understand the impact of frontline employees’ counter-productive sustainable behaviors on customers’ brand perception, as well as the relationship between CSR and employees.

Practical implications

This study suggests that firms’ green brand image does not always lead to positive customer response. When frontline employees’ behaviors are inconsistent with firms’ green brand image, it can trigger customers’ perceptions of corporate hypocrisy and thus influence their brand evaluations. Therefore, firms should train frontline service employees to make their behaviors align with the firms’ green brand image.

Originality/value

This study is one of the first efforts to explore how frontline service employees’ environmentally irresponsible behaviors affect customers’ responses. It helps understand the impact of frontline employees’ counter-productive sustainable behaviors on customers’ brand perception, as well as the relationship between CSR and employee.

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 54 no. 10
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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Article

Terje Slåtten, Göran Svensson and Sander Sværi

The purpose of this paper is to describe and explain the relationships between empowering leadership and a humorous work climate; and service employees' creativity and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe and explain the relationships between empowering leadership and a humorous work climate; and service employees' creativity and innovative behaviour in frontline service jobs.

Design/methodology/approach

A model of causal relationships is presented, along with formulated hypotheses. The data were collected with a survey answered by frontline service employees in hotels.

Findings

The findings indicate a strong relationship between frontline cognitive creativity production of novel ideas and the behavioural implementation of these ideas into their respective work role. Moreover, the empirical findings indicate that both empowering leadership and a humorous work climate are able to trigger frontline service employees' creativity. In addition service employees' creativity appears to be a mediating variable in the relationship between empowering leadership, a humorous work climate, and the service employees' innovative behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

This study limits its focus on two factors: the stimulation of service employees' creativity and innovative behaviour in frontline service jobs, both of which offer opportunities for further research.

Practical implications

This study has indicated that both leadership practice and work climate play important roles in explaining service employees' creativity and innovative behaviour. In particular, managers should be aware of their empowering practices, as well focusing on the degree of a humorous work climate. An important practical managerial implication from the findings is to take humour into account and consequently to develop and implement strategies followed by necessary actions to manage humour in an appropriate manner in service organizations.

Originality/value

The reported study contributes to enhancing the knowledge of the roles of empowering leadership and a humorous work climate for service employees' creativity and innovative behaviour in frontline service jobs.

Details

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, vol. 3 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1756-669X

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Article

Zizhen Geng, Caifeng Li, Kejia Bi, Haiping Zheng and Xia Yang

The purpose of this paper is to advance our understanding of the roles that service employees’ responses to high job demands play in service innovation, by examining the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to advance our understanding of the roles that service employees’ responses to high job demands play in service innovation, by examining the effects that service employees’ motivational orientation in self-regulation (regulatory focus) and their emotional labour strategy have on their creativity.

Design/methodology/approach

By integrating regulatory focus theory and emotion regulation theory, the authors developed a theoretical model to propose the links between promotion and prevention regulatory foci, different emotional labour strategies and frontline employee creativity. The research hypotheses were tested using hierarchical linear model based on data collected from 304 frontline employees and 72 supervisors in 51 restaurants.

Findings

The results showed that promotion focus was positively related to frontline employee creativity while prevention focus was negatively related to it. In addition, both emotional labour strategies (deep acting and surface acting) mediated the effect of promotion focus on frontline employee creativity. Surface acting mediated the effect of prevention focus on frontline employee creativity.

Originality/value

This is the first research conducted to explain, from a self-regulatory perspective, the influence that is exerted on service employeesservice innovation by their responses to high job demands. The findings identify the effects that service employees’ promotion focus or prevention focus in self-regulation have on their creativity, and the data unravel the role of emotional labour strategy as the mediating mechanism that explains the influence of regulatory focus on service employee creativity. On the basis of the findings, managerial directions are offered with regard to managing service employees’ regulatory focus and emotional labour, with a view to enhancing the creativity and innovation within a service organisation.

Details

Journal of Service Theory and Practice, vol. 28 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2055-6225

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Article

Christine Mathies and Marion Burford

Despite widespread acknowledgement of the importance of employees to the success of service firms, research into how well frontline service staff understand service

Abstract

Purpose

Despite widespread acknowledgement of the importance of employees to the success of service firms, research into how well frontline service staff understand service remains scarce. This study aims to investigate what constitutes good customer service from the viewpoint of frontline service employees and to explore gender differences in particular.

Design/methodology/approach

The data were collected from 876 frontline employees across a wide range of service industries. An automated text analysis using Leximancer explored general and gender‐specific patterns in employees' customer service understanding.

Findings

Irrespective of gender, frontline service staff share the perception that the pillars of good customer service are listening skills, making the customer happy, and offering service. Males have a more functional, outcome‐oriented interpretation of customer service; females focus more on the actual service interaction and emotional outcomes.

Practical implications

By acknowledging gender‐based dissimilarities in the customer service understanding of frontline service employees, the efficiency of recruitment and training processes will be enhanced.

Originality/value

This study contributes to limited work on service models of frontline staff and shows that gender can explain some differences. This study also adds another dimension to the understanding of gender effects in services, beyond its influence on customers' quality perceptions and behaviours. The results are important for services marketing research and for managers in charge of recruiting and training frontline service staff.

Details

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, vol. 21 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0960-4529

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Article

Zizhen Geng, Chao Liu, Xinmei Liu and Jie Feng

– The purpose of this study is to empirically test and extend knowledge of the effects of emotional labor of frontline service employee.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to empirically test and extend knowledge of the effects of emotional labor of frontline service employee.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors examined the effects of emotional labor (surface acting and deep acting) on frontline employee creativity, as well as the mediating effects of different kinds of job stress (hindrance stress and challenge stress) on the relationship between emotional labor and creativity. The research hypotheses were tested using data collected from 416 service employee–supervisor dyads in 82 Chinese local restaurants.

Findings

Results show that surface acting is negatively related to and deep acting is positively related to frontline employee creativity; surface acting is positively related to hindrance stress, while deep acting is positively related to challenge stress; and hindrance stress mediates the relationship between surface acting and creativity.

Originality/value

This study extends the consequences of emotional labor to frontline employee creativity from a cognitive perspective. It also advances knowledge about the effects of emotional labor on stress by classifying different kinds of job stress caused by different cognitive appraisals of surfacing acting and deep acting, and revealing the role of hindrance stress as psychological mechanism through which surface acting affects creativity.

Details

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 26 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-6119

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Book part

Flemming Sørensen and Jens Friis Jensen

This chapter argues that substantial potential exists for service encounter-based innovation in tourism. However, there are also a number of obstacles. Based on…

Abstract

This chapter argues that substantial potential exists for service encounter-based innovation in tourism. However, there are also a number of obstacles. Based on theoretical discussions on potentials and obstacles, a Knowledge Chain Model of service encounter-based innovation in tourism is developed. It suggests how weak or broken knowledge chains limit companies’ potential for benefiting from service encounter-based innovation. The relevance of the model is illustrated by a comparative case study of four tourism companies. In light of the theoretical frameworks and empirical findings, the chapter suggests how experimental methods can join research and practice to enhance the innovative potential of tourism companies while providing the research community with valuable knowledge.

Details

Knowledge Management in Tourism: Policy and Governance Applications
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-981-3

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Article

Behrooz Ghlichlee and Fatima Bayat

Within the retail banking sector, the customer-centric business model has become an important and new business trend in recent years. The enhancement of the frontline

Abstract

Purpose

Within the retail banking sector, the customer-centric business model has become an important and new business trend in recent years. The enhancement of the frontline service employees’ engagement and their customer-oriented behaviors are among the key factors affecting business performance (BP) in this sector of the banking industry. The purpose of this paper is to improve management decisions to enhance BP through examining the relationship between the frontline employees’ engagement and BP while taking into account the mediating effect of customer-oriented behaviors on this relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

A quantitative approach was adopted to conduct the present study, and the respondents were sampled from a large commercial bank in Iran using a structured questionnaire. Overall, 50 branch managers and 90 frontline employees were selected using random sampling. A confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to ascertain the validity and reliability of the observed items and a structural equation model was used for testing the proposed hypotheses and research framework.

Findings

The findings showed that customer-oriented behaviors mediated the relationship between the frontline employees’ engagement and bank’s branches’ BP. Higher levels of the frontline employees’ engagement enhance the customer-oriented behaviors. It was revealed that the frontline employees are engaged in their job and organization. Moreover, the engaged frontline employees listen carefully to customers, the customer’s problem is important to them and they complete their tasks precisely for customers. It has been confirmed that customer-oriented behaviors enhance branches’ BP. The bank frontline employees’ engagement and customer-oriented behaviors, in turn, affected the bank’s branches’ financial performance, process performance and employee performance compared with the bank’s key competitors.

Research limitations/implications

This study highlights the value of empirically establishing how employee customer-oriented behaviors are affected by employee engagement as an integrative construct bringing together BP.

Practical implications

This study can help improve BP by increasing the frontline employees’ engagement and their customer-oriented behaviors. This study suggests that organizations using the findings of this study could effectively assess their frontline employees’ engagement and their customer-oriented behaviors and then plan for improving them.

Social implications

This study offers a customer-oriented initiative as a social responsibility to be considered by retail banks. In light of the social exchange theory, the banks valuing customer-oriented can provide employees with knowledge, skills, values and support to develop motivation and abilities to demonstrate customer-oriented organizational citizenship behaviors.

Originality/value

Previous studies demonstrated that the employees’ engagement affects their customer-oriented behaviors. In addition, studies have referred to the effect of employees’ customer-oriented behaviors on BP. However, to the best of the knowledge, key questions regarding how the employees’ engagement at the branch level fosters customer-oriented behaviors and, in turn, the bank’s branches’ BP, remain unanswered. Hence, this study contributes to the investigation of the mediating role of the frontline employees’ customer-oriented behaviors in the relationship between their engagement and branches’ BP in the retail banking sector.

Details

Management Research Review, vol. 44 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8269

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Article

Mehmet Okan, Ayse Banu Elmadag and Elif İdemen

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive meta-analytic examination of the relationship between employee age and customer mistreatment. Drawing on…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive meta-analytic examination of the relationship between employee age and customer mistreatment. Drawing on socioemotional selectivity theory and taking the cross-cultural and cross-sectoral differences into account and making the country-level and occupation-level comparisons possible for uncovering when age matters, the role of employee age on decreasing customer mistreatment is examined.

Design/methodology/approach

The data comprises of 103 independent samples collected from 48,067 frontline employees. Random effects individual correction meta-analysis procedure is used to aggregate correlation coefficients and correct them for sampling, measurement and range restriction errors. Meta-regression is used for examining the impact of key moderators.

Findings

Results consistently show that frontline employee exposure to customer mistreatment is decreased with age. Regarding national differences, negative associations are stronger in low power distance countries. Age has more potential to provide high-quality relations with customers in healthcare, banking, compared to call centers and hospitality sectors.

Practical implications

Healthy customer relations with fewer customer mistreatments come with employee age. However, results warn service managers about cultural and industry-related boundary conditions such as power distance and service orientation expectations.

Originality/value

This study is the first meta-analysis on the relationship between two contemporary challenges in organizational frontlines: the aging workforce and customer mistreatment. By conducting comprehensive data collection and analyses, this study concludes that older employees, especially in low power distance cultures, bring wisdom to service environments.

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Article

Primitiva Pascual-Fernández, María Leticia Santos-Vijande and José Ángel López-Sánchez

This study aims to examine the interplay among three key drivers of service innovation success in the hospitality industry. Specifically, how internal marketing practices…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the interplay among three key drivers of service innovation success in the hospitality industry. Specifically, how internal marketing practices in hotels influence frontline employee involvement, training and empowerment for the new service provision (frontline employee ITE) and new service advantage. The study also analyzes how success factors affect new service internal and external performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data collected from managers of 256 hotels located in Spain, the model is tested through structural equation modeling data analysis.

Findings

Internal marketing practices have a positive and direct effect on frontline employee ITE, which, in turn, strengthens new service advantage. Frontline employee ITE also has a positive effect on the employees’ satisfaction and motivation (new service employee outcomes). New service employee outcomes and new service advantage reinforce the new service customer outcomes in terms of customer’s loyalty, improved hotel image and perceived leadership. Both new service employee and customer outcomes benefit new service market outcomes.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are obtained from a cross-sectional study. Hotel managers must pay particular attention to internal marketing practices, as they foster key drivers of new service success that ultimately improve new service internal and external performance.

Originality/value

This study extends the literature on service innovation success providing for the first time a study of the interrelationships among organizational and project-level new service success factors in the hospitality context.

Details

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 32 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-6119

Keywords

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