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Does culture impact preferred employee attributes in complaint handling encounters?
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2013 (English)In: Total Quality Management and Business Excellence, ISSN 1478-3363, E-ISSN 1478-3371Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Recently, Gruber, Abosag, Reppel, and Szmigin's [(2011). Analysing the preferred characteristics of frontline employees dealing with customer complaints – a cross-national Kano study. The TQM Journal (Kano Special Issue), 23(2), 128–144]. A Kano study revealed that complaining customers in Saudi Arabia are less difficult to delight than UK customers. The present study investigates whether these differences are caused by different service-sector development stages, as suggested in their study, or by cultural differences instead. Data were collected using Kano questionnaires from 151 respondents with complaining experience in Singapore. This country was chosen as it has a highly developed service economy (like the UK) but also a collectivistic culture (like Saudi Arabia). The analysis reveals that Singaporean customers show the same preferences as those in the UK. We consider this as a strong indicator for the suggested impact of the stage of service-sector development rather than cultural differences on complaining customers' preferences of frontline employee attributes. Our results support the findings by Gruber et al. (2011). By doing so, they surprisingly refute previous research which concluded that national culture plays a significant role in shaping customer expectations during complaint-handling encounters. Our study especially corroborates the notion of a life cycle of quality attributes that had been found for goods and services and the preferred attributes of frontline employees dealing with customer complaints.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
complaint handling, Kano theory of attractive quality, service encounters
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-29589DOI: 10.1080/14783363.2013.822664ISI: 000326226400005OAI: diva2:657020
Available from: 2013-10-17 Created: 2013-10-17 Last updated: 2013-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Löfgren, Martin
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Service Research Center
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