Organizational learning from customer feedback received by service employees: A social capital perspective

Jochen Wirtz, Siok Kuan Tambyah, Anna S. Mattila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose – Customer feedback can help to identify problem areas and strengths, and generate ideas for service improvements. Most feedback is given to frontline employees directly rather than submitted through formal channels. UZnfortunately, employees tend to be reluctant to report such unsolicited feedback. This paper seeks to explore key drivers of employees' willingness to report customer feedback to facilitate organizational learning. Specifically, the paper examines the joint effects of relational social capital, structural social capital, feedback valence (FV) (positive versus negative), and the intended use of information (service improvement versus performance evaluation) on employees' willingness to report unsolicited customer feedback back to the organization. Design/methodology/approach – The paper used two studies. First, semi/structured in/depth interviews of employees across organizational levels in two service firms were conducted to explore the relationships between the variables of interest. Second, a quasi/experimental study was conducted in which FV and intended use of information were manipulated in a true experimental design, and respondents' organization served as backdrop to measure relational and structural social capital. Findings – FV and the intended use of information moderate the impact of social capital on employees' reporting intention. Specifically, the authors found that social capital had a positive impact on employees' willingness to report negative feedback used for evaluation purposes (social capital was less important when used for service improvements). In contrast, for positive feedback, social capital had a positive impact when feedback was used for service improvements (but less so in an evaluation context where staff were naturally motivated to report positive feedback). Practical implications – Firms need to boost social capital to enhance employees' willingness to report negative feedback that is used for performance evaluation, and positive feedback that is used for understanding and cementing strengths. Social capital can be enhanced through increasing trust and a shared vision (through open and frequent communications), and through providing incentives (rewards and recognition) and improved reporting processes, infrastructure, and training. Originality/value – Service employees' reporting behavior of customer feedback received is important but under/researched. This paper is a first step into understanding the drivers of employees' willingness to report such feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-387
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Service Management
Volume21
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 22 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management

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