Neuroscience in Service Research: An Overview and Discussion of Its Possibilities
To date, service research has mainly relied on (experimental) survey, company database, and qualitative interview-based data. While this data has been very informative, recent calls have been launched to expand the toolbox of service researchers and consider new data types. One promising field is that of neuroscience. Building on calls from previous scholars to fuse service research with neuroscientific insights (e.g., Lemon and Verhoef, 2016), the goals of this study are fourfold. First, we provide a historical overview of data usage in the service field and address several of their shortcomings and inherent biases (e.g., social desirability bias; recall bias; inability to measure un/subconscious reactions). Second, we offer an overview of the most important neuroscientific methods, along with a discussion of their advantages and disadvantages. Third, we discuss how and where this new toolbox can advance the service field (e.g., service experience; servicescape; service failure & recovery). Fourth, we conclude with a practical discussion on the various tools that can be used to collect neuroscientific data and introduce a ‘how to get started with neuroscientific tools/data’-manual for service researchers. To this end, we interviewed various practitioners currently applying neuroscientific tools in their research efforts.
As we are witnessing initial neuroscience applications in service articles (e.g., Boshoff, 2012; Huneke et al., 2015), we believe this paper can convince more service researchers to adapt these promising tools. Specifically, we seek to encourage service researchers to engage in multidisciplinary research efforts that adopt neuroscientific methods and provide them with the proper background to guide them in these efforts.
Lemon, K. N., & Verhoef, P. C. (2016). Understanding customer experience throughout the customer journey. Journal of Marketing, 80(6), 69-96.
Boshoff, C. (2012). A neurophysiological assessment of consumers’ emotional responses to service recovery behaviors: The impact of ethnic group and similarity. Journal of Service Research, 15(4), 401-413.
Huneke, T., Benoit, S., Shams, P., & Gustafsson, A. (2015). Does service employees’ appearance affect the healthiness of food choice? Psychology & Marketing, 32(1), 94-106.”