Selective halo effects arising from improving the interpersonal skills of frontline employees

Dagger, Tracey S., Danaher, Peter J., Sweeney, Jillian C. and McColl-Kennedy, Janet R. (2013) Selective halo effects arising from improving the interpersonal skills of frontline employees. Journal of Service Research, 16 4: 488-502. doi:10.1177/1094670513481406

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Author Dagger, Tracey S.
Danaher, Peter J.
Sweeney, Jillian C.
McColl-Kennedy, Janet R.
Title Selective halo effects arising from improving the interpersonal skills of frontline employees
Journal name Journal of Service Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1094-6705
1552-7379
Publication date 2013-11-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1094670513481406
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 16
Issue 4
Start page 488
End page 502
Total pages 15
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
Publisher Sage Publications
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Although frontline customer service employees play a vital role in many firms, their part in service delivery is often underappreciated. The interaction between frontline employees and customers creates an impression of what is to come in the service experience. A key question is whether this interaction spills over to other unrelated aspects of the business. We conduct a quasi-experiment across two medical clinics, one of which had its frontline employees trained to improve their interpersonal skills. We find that not only does the training create positive perceptions of the service provided by frontline employees, but also increases perceptions of service quality attributes not related to these employees. That is, customer perceptions of the interpersonal skills of frontline employees “spillover” to other service quality attributes. However, this spillover effect does not impact all service attributes uniformly; rather, it is restricted to only credence attributes which customers find difficult to evaluate. We term this a selective halo effect. This finding demonstrates that customer perceptions of the interpersonal skills of frontline employees extend well beyond the range in which they perform their expected duties. Our article builds on attribute evaluability theory and information economic theory by demonstrating the existence of a selective halo effect. Further, we develop a classification system that managers can use to predict which attributes are most likely to be influenced by a selective halo effect. We encourage managers to think of frontline employees as “barometers of the business,” and to invest in continued training for these key personnel.
Keyword Customer service
Employee-customer interaction
Service quality
Attribute evaluability
Spillover
Field experiment
Health care
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published online before print: 22 March 2013.

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
UQ Business School Publications
 
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 10 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 8 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 19:25:05 EST by Karen Morgan on behalf of UQ Business School