Understanding Customer Forgiveness of Service Transgressions

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Yelena Tsarenko of Monash University, Yuliya Strizhakova of Rutgers University, and Cele C. Otnes University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They recently published an article in Journal of Service Research entitled “Reclaiming the Future: Understanding Customer Forgiveness of Service Transgressions,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivation and impact of this research:]

When customers are wronged, a diverse array of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses can result. Noticeably absent in prior marketing research, however, is the study of customer forgiveness as a viable response to transgressions. Forgiveness, a moral concept with religious overtones, has not been perceived as relevant to the secular world of business and marketing. However, business transgressions are inevitable and, just like human transgressions, customers apply forgiveness to these transgressions. Business success further hinges on understanding customer forgiveness and its impact on subsequent customer-provider relationships. Grounding our investigation in interdisciplinary research on forgiveness and self-determination theory we analyze 34 in-depth interviews with customers who experienced transgressions in the healthcare, financial, and retailing sectors. Our findings show that forgiveness is both internal and intrinsically driven process that releases the emotional burdens weighing on consumers after they experience a transgression by a service provider. Furthermore, businesses can foster forgiveness through service-recovery efforts, and seek to restore customers’ violated needs for autonomy, relatedness and competence.

We demonstrate that the interplay between customers’ motivation to forgive and their internal reconciliations of the transgression supports four pathways to forgiveness: transgressor’s atonement (driven by feelings of justice and the transgressor’s repentance and service-recovery efforts), disillusionment (driven by (in)equality and marketplace constraints), self-healing (driven by personal growth and the customer’s desire to heal), and grace (driven by humanity and empathy). Whereas some pathways of forgiveness offer the potential to restore damaged relationships and enable continued patronage, others require transgressor efforts that extend beyond compensation, to open an avenue for relational repair. However, other cases of forgiveness may never result in relationship restoration, but nonetheless can improve customer well-being, and even positively impact consumers’ mental, physical, and relational states. We further encourage future research on this transformative concept of customer forgiveness.

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How Do Senior Leaders Navigate the Need to Belong?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Jessy Zumaeta of the University of Chile and the London School of Economics. Dr. Zumaeta recently published an article in Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies entitled “Lonely at the Top: How Do Senior Leaders Navigate the Need to Belong?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Zumaeta speaks about the motivations, challenges, and findings of this research:]

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

I’m very interested in Leadership research and practice. Leaders may contribute to a great extent to organizations’ success or failure. They can make organizations and its people to thrive or, on the contrary, leaders may block employees’ and organizations’ progress. Due to the importance of their role, managers at the top echelons of organizations are usually highly pressured to deliver results. Among other things, I wanted to explore to what extent these pressures affected the person behind the professional mask.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research

Considering the abundant leadership literature, I wanted to look at it from a novel perspective, so I started to explore these kind of questions: How does it feel to be a senior leader? What are the main challenges? How do top managers experience their role? I did my research to shed light on leaders’ experiences in their role, going beyond the common view of the leader as a hero. My investigation focused on senior leaders as people with personal and social needs, as everyone else.

Were there any surprising findings?

In the interviews that I conducted, I could gather very personal accounts that may give the reader a good sense of what is like to perform a high-ranked leadership role in a corporate context on a daily basis. It was surprising to me the high degree of openness that the leaders showed during the interviews, which seem to contrast with the usual levels of authenticity that they are able to perform among other workers.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Organizations can be very difficult places, even for those that we all deem as super powerful. In consequence, I think we have to look at leadership phenomenon from different perspectives. It is a misleading message to think about top leaders as glamorous or highly desirable roles. Senior leaders have great responsibilities and setting them apart from the rest of people, it doesn’t seem to be helping organizations or leaders themselves. We need more workplaces centered on real people and their fundamental needs.

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Customer-Firm Interactions

cup-2884023_1920[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jesús Cambra-Fierro of the University Pablo of Olavide, Iguácel Melero-Polo of the University of Zaragoza,  F. Javier Sese of the University of Zaragoza, and Jenny van Doorn of the University of Groningen. Wakefield. They recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “Customer-Firm Interactions and the Path to Profitability: A Chain-of-Effects Model,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Melero-Polo reflects on the theories and implications of this research:]

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This study investigates a chain of effects to understand the causal path from customer informational inquiries (CIIs) and firm-initiated contacts (FICs) to customer profitability. Customer–firm interactions are the starting point of the relationship between these parties, and contribute to determining the relationship’s future (Dwyer, Schurr, and Oh 1987; Anderson and Weitz 1992). These interactions can be initiated either by firms or by customers. Although companies have traditionally taken the initiative to contact customers (FICs), nowadays, the growing importance of the customer in value-creation processes has changed the rules of the game. Thus, there has been a significant increase in the number of CIIs that companies have to properly manage. However, despite the importance of this topic, more research was needed to clarify the effectiveness of FICs and CIIs (Hennig-Thurau, Gwinner, and Gremler 2002; Hogan et al. 2002; Palmatier et al. 2006).

Drawing on social exchange theory, our framework identifies a set of attitudinal (perceived relationship investment and relationship quality), behavioral (customer cross-buy and service usage), and financial (customer profitability) consequences of CIIs and FICs, and also explores the extent to which customer-perceived financial risk and customer involvement shape attitudinal reactions to CIIs and FICs. We follow Bolton, Lemon, and Verhoef (2004), who propose a causal sequence of the effects of marketing instruments (FICs): (1) FICs influence relationship perceptions, (2) which influence customer behaviors, (3) which, in turn, affect financial outcomes. However, we go a step further and empirically analyze the chain of effects following FICs and CIIs. Furthermore, we include two contingency variables that can help in understanding how these customer–firm interactions (FICs and CIIs) contribute to building stronger relationships.

Through our analysis of this chain of effects, we are able to propose specific guidelines for managers in order to improve customer–firm relationships and increase the value that each customer can provide to the firm.
Our contingency framework reveals that the impact of FICs and CIIs may vary between different customers depending on their levels of perceived risk and customer involvement. Specifically, FICs and CIIs are a particularly valuable tool for strengthening the relationship with customers with a low level of involvement, but high perception of financial services risk. For highly involved customers, FICs and CIIs are not very effective; CIIs can even backfire if the customer also perceives the risk to be low. Our results highlight the importance of market segmentation for marketers to more effectively manage when and to whom they should target marketing activities (FICs) and steer CIIs.

Stay up-to-date with the latest research from the Journal of Service Research and sign up for email alerts today through the homepage!

Interaction photo attributed to rawpixel. (CC)

How People Think About Prices

shopping-1724299_1280 (1)[We’re pleased to welcome authors Lane T. Wakefield of Mercer University and Kirk L. Wakefield of Baylor University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “An Examination of Construal Effects on Price Perceptions in the Advance Selling of Experience Services,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

02JSR13_Covers.inddWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

As a huge sports fan and one that enjoys concerts and vacations as much as the next person, I find this research interesting as it suggests how people think about ticket prices.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
This research can impact the field by offering practitioners guidance in identifying who, when and where buyers of experiences are likely to be more or less price sensitive and perceive more or less value. This information helps managers to deliver the right offers or, at least, frame their current offerings more effectively.

Were there any surprising findings?

Our most surprising finding was that buyers tend to think about what other buyers are doing in the market. We found that the majority (65%) of buyers consider what others may perceive as a good price. When it comes to fun experiences, buyers assume that others see those experiences as having high value even if they do not share that feeling personally. Sellers may do well to frame their offerings in terms of how typical fans may see them rather than asking the buyer for their own thoughts. Price perceptions are affected by who you bring to mind (self vs others).

What did not make it into your published manuscript that you would like to share with us?

We identified a segment of consumers who are more price sensitive when they perceive high value. Typically, this relationship is seen as the opposite. That is, those who perceive high value may be less price sensitive (i.e. can you really put a price tag on the Cowboys vs Redskins on Thanksgiving?). However, we believe that there are some who enjoy attending games, concerts and the like so much that they become price sensitive in order to be able to afford to have more experiences within their limited budgets. Hopefully you’ll see more about this research soon!

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Price tag photo attributed to gdakaska. (CC)

Psychological Capital for Leader Development

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Thiraput Pitichat of Claremont Graduate University. Pitichat recently published an article in Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies entitled “Psychological Capital for Leader Development,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Pitichat speaks on the objectives of this research:]

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat are the mechanisms behind effective leader development processes? Why do some individuals have a tendency to develop as leaders more than the others? This research suggests that organizations should focus on promoting leaders’ valuable resources or capital – Leader development psychological capital (LD PsyCap), which consists of leader development hope, optimism, resilience, and self-efficacy. Two main objectives of this research are:

1.) to validate LD PsyCap construct; 2.) to test our hypotheses on individual and organizational level factors that predict LD PsyCap as well as leader development behaviors as an outcome of LD PsyCap.

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Capturing Relative Importance of Customer Satisfaction Drivers Using Bayesian Dominance Hierarchy

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Philippe Duverger and Xiaoyin Wang of Towson University. Duverger and Wang recently published an article in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly entitled “Capturing Relative Importance of Customer Satisfaction Drivers using Bayesian Dominance Hierarchy,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

We observed that most research on the drivers of customer satisfaction (CS) used large samples, often aggregated from several month and/or several properties. Although this is a fine method to look at CS trends it is not practical at the property level for immediate action. The current methods require large samples in order to achieve sufficient power and find significant estimates in models. Unfortunately, most hotel property monthly survey yield samples of less than 100 that will make driver analyses problematic and more likely most drivers will have non-significant estimates.

We asked ourselves if there would not be a method that could circumvent the problem of property managers that want and need to address CS drivers on a monthly basis, if not on a daily basis.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

We used a Bayesian statistical framework, borrowing from several literature areas to construct a model. Bayesian statistical analysis is still a fairly new method in practice, often not well understood, and can be computationally heavy. Therefore we first needed to explain the advantages of the method in a way that was pragmatic enough because our goal in this paper was to appeal to the hospitality manager.

Bayesian statistics work from the belief that the unknown parameter is a random variable and is associated with a probability distribution (prior distribution). The information in the sample data is used to adjust the prior perception of the unknown parameter and results in the final estimation of the parameter (posterior distribution). Therefore, even if the sample is small, significance can be determined.

Maybe more pragmatically, Bayesian analysis is “often a more direct way to tackle questions we usually want to know, such as: is the hypothesis likely to be true?” Bayesian analysis does not use double negatives, such as we often encounter, e.g., “we failed to reject the null hypothesis that there is no difference.” Bayesian analysis reports are straight forward: “given these data, it is likely that the difference is X% probable” (Chapman and McDonnell Fei 2015, p. 150).

There are many other advantages that we discuss in the paper.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

We believe that our Bayesian model, for which we share the code at http://tinyurl.com/kdqjf4u, could be used by hospitality properties or hospitality corporate departments, to enhance monthly reporting along with other marketing metrics, and shared via dashboards.

 

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Webinar Highlights: Presenting Data Effectively

[The following post is re-blogged from Social Science Space. Click here to view the original article.]


Crystal clear graphs, slides, and reports are valuable – they save an audience’s mental energies, keep a reader engaged, and make you look smart. This webinar held on June 6, 2017, covers the science behind presenting data effectively and will leave viewers with direct, pointed changes that can be immediately administered to significantly increase impact. Guest Stephanie Evergreen also addresses principles of data visualization, report, and slideshow design that support legibility, comprehension, and stick our information in our audience’s brains.

Evergreen’s presentation was followed by an audience question-and-answer session, which is included in the recording. Not all the questions were answered at the time, and Evergreen answers some additional session questions below.

Evergreen is an internationally recognized speaker, designer, and researcher best known for bringing a research-based approach to better communicate through more effective graphs, slides, and reports. She holds a PhD from Western Michigan University in interdisciplinary evaluation, which included a dissertation on the extent of graphic design use in written research reporting. Evergreen has trained researchers worldwide through keynote presentations and workshops, for clients including Time, Verizon, Head Start, American Institutes for Research, Rockefeller Foundation, Brookings Institute, and the United Nations. She is the 2015 recipient of the American Evaluation Association’s Guttentag award, given for notable accomplishments early in a career.

She is co-editor and co-author of two issues of New Directions for Evaluation on data visualization. She writes a popular blog on data presentation at StephanieEvergreen.com. Her books SAGE Publishing books Presenting Data Effectively and Effective Data Visualization both reached No. 1 on Amazon bestseller lists. A second edition of Presenting Data Effectively was published in May.

  1. When is it best to place the data information (e.g. 20 percent) on a bar or lollipop vs. using a scale on the side or bottom of a chart?

If people will want to know the exact value, add the data label. If the overall pattern of the data and estimated values are sufficient, use a scale. But don’t use both – that’s redundant.

  1. How do your clients and colleagues respond to the ‘flipped report,’ in which research findings and conclusions are presented before the discussion, literature, methodology, and background sections?

With a “duh” as in “Why haven’t I thought of that before”? Generally, clients appreciate how a flipped report values their time. On occasion, you and I will find audiences who really bristle at the idea, usually people steeped in the academic culture, so check first if a flipped report structure would be okay.

  1. Any tips for the converted about changing resistant organizational culture to data visualization? “You need to use our template!”

Culture change is slow, so the first tip is to be patient. After that, try remaking one of your own old (bad) slides or graphs to show what an overall would look like. See if you can get a friendly client or customer you know to give you feedback on it. Then report on the redesign and the feedback to others in your organization. Try getting someone from senior management on board. Leave a copy of my book in their mailbox or in the break room. And hang in there.

  1. How do we report small numbers? Without percentages?

I would report small numbers as raw numbers, not percentages. Try an icon array for a visual.

  1. Where is the best place to get report templates?

In your imagination! Any report template is going to look like a report template, not like something that fits your own work. Look around for inspiration, for sure, like on my Pinterest boards, but create your own style that fits you and your work.

  1. What program do you use to create dashboards or infographics? We’ve used Piktocharts…. are there others?

I work within the Microsoft Office suite. I make dashboards in Excel and infographics in PowerPoint. This way I have total control over the design and everyone on my team can make edits. A quick Google search of either dashboard or infographic programs will give you hundreds of choices you could work with. If you want something from that list, look for maximum flexibility, low learning curve, and reasonable expense.

  1. Each chart can have multiple findings; are we skewing the results when we highlight certain findings over others using color and data?

“Skewing” sounds like we are manipulating, but that’s not the case. Using color to highlight a certain part of the graph still leaves the rest of the graph completely intact and able to be seen. Adding color does, however, reflect an interpretation we have made of the data. But that isn’t “skewing” – it’s telling people our point and that’s why they are listening to us in the first place.

  1. Can you please explain the difference between your two books? Thanks!

Sure! Effective Data Visualization walks you through how to choose the right chart type and then how to make it in Excel. Presenting Data Effectively talks about formatting graphs well with consideration of text and color and broadens that discussion to address dashboards, slides, handouts, and reports.

  1. One challenge I face is presenting nuanced findings in an accessible way. For example, when there are limitations to the data or subgroups that need to be acknowledged or findings need to be interpreted with caution. As a researcher, it worries me that the client might put tentative findings “out there”, misrepresenting them (to a degree).

This makes your title and subtitle ever more important. Be very clear in your wording that the findings are limited. You can also add things like confidence intervals to your graph if you are confident that the reader will know how to interpret them. If it is still going to be a concern, don’t make a graph of the data. People are drawn to graphs because we look at pictures so don’t put the data in a picture if you are worried people won’t read the nuanced narrative.