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When Does “We Try Harder” Make a Difference? The Role of Outcome Value and Service Seamlessness in the Relationship of Employee Effort with Customer Satisfaction
Authors: Dana Yagil (University of Haifa, Israel), Hana Medler-Liraz (Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo, israel)
Service organizations make extensive efforts to satisfy customers' needs. Research suggests that customers appreciate employees' efforts to provide high quality service (Bell & Menguc, 2002; Hee Yoon & Suh, 2003; Hsieh et al., 2015). Yet, not much is known about conditions that moderate the impact of service providers’ efforts on customers’ evaluation of the service. The paper presents two scenario studies exploring the impact of efforts made by service providers under different conditions of service outcomes and service seamlessness. Study 1 explored the moderating effect of financial gain on the customer gratitude and satisfaction. Study 2 explored the moderating effect of service failure on the relationship of perceived effort with gratitude and satisfaction. The data of both studies were analyzed with Multivariate Analysis Of Variance (MANOVA).
In a 2X3 between-subject design, we manipulated the customer’s financial gain involved in the service (low, high) and employee efforts (no extra effort, extra role behavior; making a personal sacrifice) and measured gratitude and satisfaction. The sample consisted of 366 undergraduate students in business management courses. The results show that when employee effort is perceived as high, customer experience more gratitude and satisfaction. However, a significant interaction effect suggests that perceived employee effort affects service evaluation and gratitude only under a low level of customer's financial gain.
In a 2X3 between-subject scenario study, we manipulated service failure (yes/no) and employee effort (no extra effort, extra role behavior; making a personal sacrifice) and measured gratitude, satisfaction and tipping intentions. The sample consisted of 150 undergraduate students in business management courses. Perceived high effort had a positive effect on customer gratitude and tipping intentions. A significant interaction effect suggests that employee effort increases customers’ tipping intentions, but only when service is seamless.
Taken together, the results suggest that while customers appreciate service employees’ efforts, this aspect of service is taken into consideration mainly when “bottom line” aspects –service outcomes and seamlessness- are less salient. The results imply that communicating the effort involved in service provision to customers is mainly beneficial in mundane service situations.