Customer Service Management in Western and Central Europe: A Concurrent Validation Strategy in Entrepreneurial Financial Information Services Organizations

By Carraher, Shawn M.; Carraher, Sarah C. et al. | Journal of Business Strategies, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

Customer Service Management in Western and Central Europe: A Concurrent Validation Strategy in Entrepreneurial Financial Information Services Organizations


Carraher, Shawn M., Carraher, Sarah C., Mintu-Wimsatt, Alma, Journal of Business Strategies


Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to test whether or not a biodata inventory could be used to measure service orientation within global entrepreneurial organizations in Western and Central Europe. A concurrent validation strategy was conducted consistent with the methodology previously presented by Schoenfeldt (1999). Within the samples of 403 and 295 non-American employees, the service orientation ratings were highly correlated with .four scales: "Extroversion, " "Openness to experience, " "Conscientiousness, "and "Agreeableness "and not significantly correlated with "Emotional Stability. " The findings suggest that for organizational employee development and selection, service orientation may be effectively measured by an instrument such as this one and therefore potentially improve customer service management systems.

Introduction

Perceived customer service is often the determining factor in the initial purchase and/or repeat purchase of products. Positive customer service experiences drive customer satisfaction that subsequently affects the level of customer satisfaction On the other hand, negative experiences reinforce customer dissatisfaction. A dissatisfied customer may become an economic liability to the organization, and worst, a critic of the products and services provided (Carrier, 1999; Waldman & Gopalakrishnan, 1996).

The image of the organization in the mind of an individual consumer is often produced by a series of possible interactions with a finite number of [organization's] employees. As a result, firms often attempt to shape their image with customers by managing the types of behaviors employees display (Becherer & Maurer, 1999; Hipkin, 2000; Martin, 2000; O'Gorman & Doran, 1999). This is because firms that emphasize higher levels of customer service report higher profitability, return on sales, return on investments, return on assets, and profit growth than those reporting less emphasis on customer service by the individual employees (Wright, Pearce, and Busbin, 1997). In fact, McWilliams, Van Fleet, & Wright (2001) have argued that organizations may gain a global competitive advantage through the strategic use of their human resources.

To the extent that an organization's success depends on effective customer relations, the customer service employee plays a vital boundary spanning role for the organization (Robertson, 1995). The literature suggests that the nature of these front-line service jobs is uniquely demanding. Indeed, the social and emotional skills required of these employees are quite intense (Carraher & Hart, 1995; Hui, Lam, & Schaubroeck, 2001; Pugh, 2001). While customers may typically have as few as one or two service encounters daily; service employees may have to deal with several hundred customers or potential customers each day. More importantly, many of these customers have complaints about the organization's products and/or services. For employees of small to medium size businesses, the situation may be worse since nearly all employees may have normal contact with customers on a daily basis (O'Gorman & Doran, 1999; Zinger, LeBrasseur, & Zanibbi, 2001).

Because the social interaction and boundary spanning aspects of service jobs may demand nontechnical and noncognitive skills, these may be difficult to measure for many employees. This is particularly true for entry-level jobs where costly assessment techniques are rarely utilized (Mitchell, 1997). Consequently, other means of assessing skill sets necessary for customer service employees are often sought.

This study offers an alternative means of evaluating employees' service orientation. In particular, the current authors test whether a biodata inventory could be used to measure the service orientation construct across multiple cultures. Biodata information from employees of multinational entrepreneurial financial information services organizations was evaluated. …

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