Emotional Dissonance and Customer Service

Topics: Marketing, Emotion, Customer relationship management Pages: 25 (8351 words) Published: May 5, 2011
Emotional Dissonance and Customer Service: An Exploratory Study Craig C. Julian

ABSTRACT. In this paper, the broad context for the study of emotional dissonance and its importance to marketing is set out. The relevant literature on emotional dissonance, its antecedents and outcomes are introduced together with the knowledge gap in the literature. The conceptual framework of emotional dissonance is expanded via exploratory research using case studies in order to identify the key issues and the managerial implications. The study's findings extend the previous theoretical and empirical research on emotional dissonance in the workplace and customer service role internalization in high contact services involving face-to-face interactions between employees and customers. Specifically, the findings highlight the influence of customer service role internalization on emotional dissonance and further suggest examining the impact of emotional dissonance on key job outcome variables namely, customer oriented behaviours and job satisfaction.

Craig C. Julian, PhD, is affiliated with the School of Commerce and Management, Faculty of Business and Law, Southern Cross University, P.O. Box 42, Tweed Heads, New South Wales, Australia, 2485. E-Mail: Craig.Julian@scu.edu.au or crgjulian@yahoo.com.au The author gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Associate Professor Thomas Tan Tsu Wee of Singapore Management University and that of Brendan Phillips. The author further dedicates this paper to the memory and work of Thomas Tan Tsu Wee who passed away suddenly in 2006. Thomas was a respected and valued colleague. Services Marketing Quarterly, Vol. 29(3) 2008 Available online at http://smq.haworthpress.com © 2008 by The Haworth Press. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1080/15332960802125882


SERVICES MARKETING QUARTERLY KEYWORDS. Customer orientation, customer service, dissonance, emotional labor, job performance, job satisfaction, performance management

There are many high contact services involving direct interactions with customers and requiring service providers to manage how they present their emotions during service encounters (Leidner, 1999). In these interactions, service workers may have to comply with employer prescribed occupational expectations about emotional expression, otherwise known as "display rules" (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993), or "feeling rules" (Hochschild, 1983) by hiding true feelings from clients and displaying feelings required to perform the job role effectively. Mann (1999, p. 1) highlighted an interaction involving a health care worker and a psychiatric patient to illustrate the emotional labor involved in high contact services as follows: "I spend a lot of my time trying to control my emotions at work. People don't expect me to be emotional, whether that means angry, upset, or excited. I have to be the same neutral person at all times." Almost 40% of jobs require substantial amounts of emotion management in the workplace according to Hochschild (1983). If we limit the analysis to high contact service roles, involving face-to-face interactions between service employees and customers, the percentage would be considerably higher. Service marketers generally agree that the manner in which interactions between employees and customers unfold constitute a principal component of a customer's expectations and experience of service quality. Hence, it is considered a key source of customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction (Gronroos, 2001; Lovelock, 2001). Service marketers further recognize that it is the emotions displayed by service workers when interacting with customers as a key factor in determining customer evaluations of service quality (Pugh, 2001). Emotional Dissonance and its Significance to Marketing Hochschild (1983, p. 90) defined emotional dissonance as: "maintaining a difference between feeling and feigning". Hoffman and Bateson (2001, p. 252) conceptualized emotional dissonance as...
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