As a society of consumers, we all know quality service when we see it. But are you a customer willing to forgive a bad service experience? You might if you be according to this year’s winner of Merrick School of Business’ Outstanding Article award, Associate Professor of Marketing Praneet Randhawa.
At the annual Faculty Awards celebration, Dr. Randhawa received the Merrick School of Business's prestigious honor for her co-authored article titled “Assessing the Effects of Service Variability on Consumer Confidence and Behavior,” in the Journal of Service Research.
The focus of the article was examining service relationships and how the variability of the companies’ quality of service impacts a consumers’ confidence and behaviors over a series of transactions. The paper leverages a field study that followed “12,000 experiences across 3,084 consumers for a 2-year period.” The researchers modeled the “impact of the variability in these experiences on consumer relationships.”
There were two things that made this research model different. First, it’s was multi-study model with two different sets of data collected. This allowed the results to be more robust. It also involves time-series data that was collected over a 28-month time period with multiple transactions of the customers. The first set of data was obtained with cooperation from an actual company. The researchers reviewed the results and then they designed a second study to bolster the data set. Two separate studies were used to develop the paper. This decision allowed the researchers to integrate evaluations across several transactions.
With a concentration on consumer relationship investments like loyalty programs, the team uncovered some points that service providers could benefit from. From Dr. Randhawa’s position she sees that a customer’s confidence in a brand gets impacted by the quality of service provided.
“A consistent level of quality is crucial in helping build customer confidence because these consistent quality experiences help build strong customer loyalty,” said Randhawa. “Although consistent service quality is difficult to achieve, the variability can be off-set by loyalty/reward programs. In the end, customers integrate evaluations across multiple service encounters when evaluating a service provided. Thus, it is important for companies to keep that in mind when evaluating single poor customer service quality transaction.”
One of the surprises that Randhawa encountered occurred during the review of the second study.
“I think the results of our second study that demonstrates that single poor service quality experience is not the end of a customer-brand relationship. It is fascinating given in this social media dominated world where word-of-mouth is ‘world-of -mouth.’ Customers are willing to give companies or brands another chance as long as they feel they are getting something in return like accumulating points or rewards.”
During the school’s Outstanding Article evaluation process, Dean Murray Dalziel carefully evaluates the research generated by all of our faculty. He shared his thoughts on Dr. Randhawa’s paper and why it gravitates to the top.
“This is a very extensive empirical study of immense interest to managers who depend on customer service metrics to underpin their business. Many companies depend on aggregating customer service responses, but this paper shows that this can be misleading and gives a much more direct endorsement for looking more deeply at the actual ‘customer journey’ with some nuances particularly around the role of loyalty clubs.”
This is the second time Randhawa has earned the Outstanding Article Award. When asked about winning this honor she said, a research award for her is a true recognition of her efforts.
“I feel motivated to continue to explore practical research questions that help inform the business literature.”
Thank you, Dr. Randhawa and your fellow scholars for this impactful research. Indeed, your curiosity will advance the field.
Visit Dr. Randhawa's faculty profile.
Voorhees, C. M., Beck, J. M., Randhawa, P., DeTienne, K. B., & Bone, S. A. Assessing the Effects of Service Variability on Consumer Confidence and Behavior. Journal of Service Research. Volume: 24 issue: 3, page(s): 405-420.