Services Marketing- Airlines Emotional Strategy

Topics: Emotion, Arlie Russell Hochschild, Customer Pages: 13 (3627 words) Published: September 5, 2006
The ability to link unique positive emotions with service brands is an essential strategy for all service firms. "Consumers who have an emotional link with a brand are less likely to be price sensitive so long as they continue to derive emotional satisfaction from the brand" (Mahajan & Wind, 2002). To outperform rivals, organizations must use emotion to differentiate their services from others. The following literature analysis will examine the role of emotions within the service sector. It will be concluded that through the use of emotional management, emotional intelligence and customized recovery strategies, Virgin Blue will increase their likelihood in delivering superior service, reduce their chances of service failure and increase their effectiveness in service recovery techniques.

Service Delivery
"Service delivery is the interaction between consumers, and the organization within the service setting (McColl-Kennedy, 2003). The emotions displayed by boundary spanners are a critical element in service delivery. The term boundary spanner is commonly used to define employees that represent organizations at the front line, their displayed emotions have the ability to increase sales or drive away customers. "Employees who display good cheer to customers can enhance sales and customer loyalty" (Parasuraman, Zeithamal, Berry, 1985).

Emotion Management
Organization's recognize the financial benefits of superior service and have responded by standardizing the service script through various informal and formal measures. Service standardization is often referred to as the McDonaldization effect (Raz & Rafaeli: 5) "McDonald's pioneered the routinization of interactive service work and remains an exemplar of extreme standardization."

According to Rafaeli & Sutton (1987) organizations must first recruit and select employees based on an ability to convey the appropriate emotions needed for the role. At Delta Airways flight attendants are selected on appearance and a certain type of outgoing middle class sociability (Hochschild, 1983).

Organizations can also routinize service work through socialization. "Organizational socialization often includes learning norms, or feeling rules about which emotions ought to be displayed and which ought to be hidden" (Rafaeli et al. 1987). At Delta, metaphors such as regarding the aircraft as a home are used to achieve a superior service culture. In addition, Delta Airways establishes a range of feeling rules "For the flight attendant, the smiles are a part of her work, a part that requires her to coordinate self and feeling so that the work seems to be effortless" (Hochschild, 1983: 8).

Organizations can also control employee emotions through the use of reward and punishment. "Socialization teaches new comers which emotions are expected, while rewards and punishments maintain or alter such behaviours" (Rafaeli et al. 1987: 28). The type of incentives used to direct employee emotions will often differ between cultures. Due to Japan's collective culture effective service delivery is rewarded at a group level. In contrast, North American incentives are generally rewarded at an individual level (Raz). Similarly, punishments used to alter employee emotions are also dependent upon the cultural context. In Japan, emotional commitment is administered through shaming employees whereas in North America, commitment is administered through guilt. The two techniques differ in that the former results in a loss of face within society while the latter results in individual guilt (Raz).

Customer Emotion
Effective service delivery requires employees to go beyond simply managing emotion. Specifically, boundary spanners must be able to recognize customer emotions and respond to them accordingly. A study conducted by Mattila & Enz (2002) found front line employees failed to assess their own performance in a fashion that was consistent with customer's assessment. This finding...
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