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EMAC 2023 Annual

To be seen when you are a customer is not always good: An examination of customer visibility in the service encounter and consumer resistance

Published: May 24, 2023


Mattias Hjelm, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden; Magnus Söderlund, Stockholm School of Economics


If the service firm employee can see the customer in a service encounter, it is easier to make adaptions to the customer’s needs and hence to enhance customer satisfaction. Customer visibility in relation to the employee, however, can be negatively charged for the customer – particularly at high levels of exposure. The present study comprised an empirical examination of several services, with different levels of customer visibility, and the study identified resistance-related reactions to customer visibility that attenuate the customer’s attitude towards using a service. These reactions are beliefs that using a particular service can violate the customer’s privacy and can generate customer guilt, as well as beliefs that usage contributes to an increasing commercialization of society.