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Building “right” first impression in service encounters: Matching up your physical characteristics with type of the service

Elkattan, Ahmed Gamal, Temerak, M.S. (2020) Building “right” first impression in service encounters: Matching up your physical characteristics with type of the service. In: Frontiers in Service 2021. . (In press) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:83789)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
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https://frontiers2021.fsu.edu/

Abstract

Services literature has paid a great attention to relationship building strategies (e.g. Gwinner et al., 2000) due to the fact that retaining current customer is much cheaper than acquiring a new one. However, if professional service employees were not able to build a positive first impression, there will be no relationship in the first place. Service literature on service encounter has been more interested in core (e.g. customer education) (Temerak et al., 2018) and post (e.g. customer complaints) service encounters with little emphasis on pre service encounter. Our study aims at examining the influence of two observable cues (hijab and eyeglasses) on customers’ impressions of warmth and competence of a professional service employee in both hedonic (e.g. Wedding planner) and utilitarian (e.g. Physician) contexts. Based on the principles of congruence, we expect eye glasses as a signal of competence (e.g. it signals dedication to continuous learning and reading) to be an asset for a female physician than Wedding planner. In response to scant research attention to halal marketing, we are interested in the influence of Muslim veil as a signal of formalization which is expected to be perceived as an asset in case of physician, but its absence may be perceived as a signal of westernization which is more congruent to the wedding planner role.

In terms of methods, in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 females to provide support for our initial research hypotheses. Then, a 2 (absence vs presence of eye glasses) ×2 (absence vs presence of Muslim veil) x 2 (physician vs wedding planner) between-subject factorial experiments design were adapted. In total, 280 female students were randomly assigned to one of the eight experimental conditions using digital colored photographs and written scenarios. Data were analyzed by the means of MANCOVA.

As expected, the absence of hijab was associated with high expected service quality and perceived congruence in the case of Wedding planner (i.e. hedonic service context) than in the case of physician (e.g. utilitarian service context). The Muslim veil was found to induce lower competence impressions in hedonic service context. In addition, the presence of eyeglasses, as utilitarian appearance cue, was rated as an asset in the case of physician (i.e. utilitarian service context) and a liability in the case of Wedding planner (i.e. hedonic service context). Interestingly, the absence of both Muslim veil and eyeglasses resulted in higher patronage intention in hedonic service context.

Future research may extend the current findings to other physical appearance cues (e.g. makeup, dressing style). Managerially, service managers should take into account the congruence between service employees' characteristics and service attributes. Cross-cultural research in a high multi-ethnic cities (e.g. New York and Dubai) may bring stereotypes and complexities to the service encounter.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Uncontrolled keywords: First impression Frontline service provider Muslim veil Hedonic services utilitarian services
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Kent Business School (do not use)
Depositing User: Mohamed Temerak
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2020 10:53 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:15 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/83789 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Temerak, M.S.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9128-6715
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