Will Good Service Attitude Beautify Customers’ Sensory Evaluation? The Moderating Role of Uncertainty
Some anecdotal evidences(Lashley et al, 2007; Lugosi, 2003, 2008; Crang, 1994; Mody, Suess, & Lehto, 2018) show that such a service attitude as being enthusiastic, hospitable, and nuanced (e.g., helping customers develop travel strategies and carrying luggage when picking up customers),will allow customers to ignore the shortcomings of the service facilities and make more favorable sensory evaluations like sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. However, although previous research explored the influence of service attitude of employees on customers' willingness to revisit from the angle of customer satisfaction (Schmit & Allscheid, 1995; Susskind, Kacmar, & Borchgrevink, 2003) and the impact of sensory experience on consumer behavior from the perspective of environmental psychology (Baker, Parasuraman, Grewal, & Voss, 2002; Zhu & Meyers-Levy, 2005, 2009; Chandon & Wansink, 2007; Krider, Raghubir, & Krishna, 2001), respectively, there is a lack of studies linking service attitude to customers’ sensory evaluation. Based on service research (Arnould & Price, 1993; Zomerdijk & Voss, 2009), psychological research on uncertainty (Van Horen & Mussweiler, 2014; Shen, Fishbach,& Hsee, 2015), and social thermoregulation research (Landau et al., 2010; Szymkow et al., 2013; IJzerman et al., 2015), we propose that good service attitude will reduce perceived psychological distance, and thus beautify consumers’ sensory evaluation. We also identify uncertainty is an important boundary condition of the relationship between service attitude and customers’ sensory evaluation.
Three studies using diverse data (real online data from xiaozhu.com, data from a field study, and controlled experimental data) test the above hypotheses. Study 1a and 1b use the web-scraping tool to get word-of-mouth reviews of homestays of Chengdu and Linzhi on the xiaozhu.com respectively. Results of study show that evaluation of host (service attitude) significantly affects guests’ sensory evaluation, psychological distance plays a partial mediating role in the above relationships, and environmental uncertainty is a significant moderator. Study 2 takes university orientation as a research object. Results of study show that the main effect of service attitude, the mediating effect of psychological distance, and the moderating effect of attachment style are all significant. Study 3, a scenario simulation experiment utilizing a 2 (service attitude: good vs. medium)×2 (environment uncertainty: high vs. low) ×2 (attachment style: attachment anxiety vs. attachment avoidance) between-subjects design, is in progress.