Customers' behavioural contribution to the service encounter

  • Iliana Katsaridou

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The dyadic nature of the service encounter suggests that the service output essentially arises from the coordinated efforts of customers and service employees. In this view, the services marketing literature has recently trended towards incorporating customer positive behaviours into the study of the interpersonal dynamics of the service encounter, thereby hinting that customers' behavioural contributions are conducive to achieving a positive service outcome.;However, the manner in which such positive service encounters can develop at the customer's initiative lacks empirical evidence. This research adopts a behavioural perspective and draws on the fact that service encounters are reciprocal in nature; this means that service employee behaviour can often come as a response to the customer's prior behaviour, and can therefore be more reactive in nature.;A mixed-methods sequential exploratory research design, implemented through two studies, aimed at advancing the current understanding on the ways that customers can contribute to the service encounter through the impact of their behaviour on service employees' subsequent behavioural response.;Study 1 was exploratory and employed in-depth interviews conducted among service employees, in order to investigate the effect of customer positive behaviours from the recipients' standpoint. The results revealed that service employees engage in favourable reciprocal behaviours towards customers who benefited them during the service encounter. Moreover, these customer benefits are translated into resources that enhance service employees' overall performance, as well as the enjoyment derived from delivering the service to all customers.;Study 2 used an online scenario-based experimental survey distributed among service employees, so as to test a theoretical model linking customer behaviour to service employee behaviour, mediated by the service employee's experience. The results confirmed the initial hypothesis according to which customer discretionary behaviours can initiate a cyclical process of exchange of positive behaviours among the parties involved in the service encounter, through their beneficial impact on service employees' experience.;Overall, this research advances our limited theoretical knowledge on the interpersonal dynamics of the service encounter, by offering empirical evidence on the role of customer behaviour as an antecedent to subsequent service employee behaviour. Therefore, the thesis reinforces the argument according to which customers are partially responsible for the service outcome they receive, as they have the ability to enhance the development of a mutually beneficial service encounter through their behaviour towards service employees.
Date of Award15 Sep 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorAlan Wilson (Supervisor) & Fred Lemke (Supervisor)

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