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EMAC 2023 Annual

Should I call or come by? How communication modes affect employee learning about the customer

Published: May 24, 2023


Anne Cordts, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT); Martin Klarmann, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT); Johannes Habel, University of Houston


Although understanding the customer is a well-known and central goal of frontline employees and although personality is a highly researched topic, the frontline employees’ knowledge about the customer’s personality, however, seems to be a neglected research area. In this research three lab experiments and an online experiment were conducted to explore frontline employees’ knowledge about the customer’s personality in different settings and formats. Personality knowledge is primarily transmitted through the voice (like in phone calls, video calls, in-person meetings). In negotiation situations, however, we find that face-to-face is the superior communication format to convey personality information. Our findings help to better understand the mechanisms behind frontline employee knowledge about the customer’s personality leading to relationship building. Our results are useful for companies to establish effective CRM strategies to achieve frontline employee success.