chapter  9
9 Pages

Where do we go from here?

Following a brief recap of content, this chapter takes a look at future directions in frontline provider research. In doing so, it explains, for example, how emotional intelligence screening can be used to enhance employee-selection processes. Since highly emotionally intelligent individuals possess an enhanced ability to manage their emotions, and handle interpersonal relationships better than those with lower levels of emotional intelligence, gauging this attribute in the selection of frontline service providers is vital. After discussing directions in selection, technologies such as data-and text-mining are used to demonstrate emerging technologies on the customer information front. Emerging data-and text-mining technologies can uncover nonobvious patterns in data and text files that can provide insight into how to serve the customer better. The chapter concludes with coverage of trends in employee motivational strategies and in identifying sustainable competitive advantages.

While not a panacea for success, we contend that internalizing and implementing the information contained in this book will offer service firms a formidable advantage over their competitors. The first two chapters define encounter theory, the theoretical model of social relationships upon which much later inquiry is premised. In doing so, these opening pages describe the importance of social situations and identify the observable attributes that aid in describing the intersubjective set. Along these lines, distinctions are enumerated between interactive encounters and relational service situations, and the power of emotions and motivations in the encounter situation is addressed. Chapters 3 and 4 explain the critical need to properly understand the

wants and motivations of disparate customer segments, and role of the service manager in accommodating those wants and motivations from a social interaction perspective. A management visioning process is outlined, and the reliance of the process and outcomes on frontline interactions is stressed.

Thus, according to this logic, information generated at the frontline must be used to formulate strategies, which must be communicated clearly to frontline actors to avoid role ambiguity and its negative correlates. Chapters 5 and 6 describe the positioning of the service provider role, and

means by which to appeal to the customer and provider roles through various communication channels. These discussions stress the strong bidirectional association between employee and customer satisfaction. Stated differently, frontline providers who perceive high levels of distributive, procedural, and interactional justice are more prone to deliver service that leaves customers with mirroring justice perceptions. Next, Chapter 7 describes in detail the verbal communication skills most

likely to result in customer rapport and ultimate satisfaction. Nonverbal communication is also discussed at length in this section. Since most human communication is a result of nonverbal cues, this content is quintessential for service providers to understand and practice. The chapter concludes by addressing how various combinations of verbal and nonverbal habits can be used to illustrate to customers that they are being listened to during frontline interactions. Chapter 8 extends beyond previous discussions by providing direction on

how to achieve customer delight and customer loyalty. It is also indicated that it is possible for firms to invest too much time and effort in service quality, therefore they must weigh service quality initiatives against each other to assess their potential returns. This process mandates that firms have an understanding of which service-related amenities customers value the most. And this final chapter offers a discussion of emerging areas of interest in frontline interactions: