The effect of service employees’ accent on customer reactions

Tombs, Alastair and Rao Hill, Sally (2014) The effect of service employees’ accent on customer reactions. European Journal of Marketing, 48 11/12: 2051-2070. doi:10.1108/EJM-03-2013-0115

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Author Tombs, Alastair
Rao Hill, Sally
Title The effect of service employees’ accent on customer reactions
Journal name European Journal of Marketing   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0309-0566
1758-7123
Publication date 2014
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1108/EJM-03-2013-0115
Open Access Status
Volume 48
Issue 11/12
Start page 2051
End page 2070
Total pages 20
Place of publication Bingley, United Kingdom
Publisher Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Purpose
– The primary objective of this article is to investigate customer reactions to service employees with accents that differ from a non-native accent taking into account customer emotions.

Design/methodology/approach
– This article reports on a study with a 2 (accent of service employee: Australian or Indian) × 2 (service employee’s competency: competent or incompetent) × 2 (customer’s affective state: positive or negative) between-subject experimental design to uncover the effects of service employees’ accent on customers’ reactions.

Findings
– The findings revealed that hearing a service employee with a foreign accent was not enough on its own to influence customer responses. However, when the service employee is incompetent or the customer was in a negative affective state, a foreign accent appeared to exacerbate the situation.

Research limitations/implications
– While the findings indicate that accents are used a cue for customers to evaluate service employees, further research should also take service types, service outcomes, customer-service employee relationships, customers’ ethnic affiliation and ethnocentrism into consideration when examining the effect of accents.

Practical implications
– Service managers need to be aware that accents will exacerbate perceptions of already difficult service situations. Providing competent service will help breakdown stereotypes and improve the acceptance of diversity at the customer–employee interface.

Originality/value
– This article contributes to the service literature about service attributes and is particularly relevant to economies such as the USA, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Australia where immigrants are a large part of the service work force.
Keyword Service
Service Evaluation
Accent
Customer emotions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
 
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Created: Tue, 25 Nov 2014, 16:44:00 EST by Karen Morgan on behalf of UQ Business School