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EMAC 2022 Annual

Customer visibility in the service encounter can produce resistance to using services

Published: May 24, 2022


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


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. This study explores perceived negative consequences of customer visibility, and the findings from an empirical examination comprising several services, with different levels of customer visibility, indicate that customer visibility is positively associated with several resistance-related reactions that attenuate the customer’s attitude towards using a service. These reactions are beliefs that using a particular service can (1) violate the customer’s privacy, (2) cause harm to the customer, and (3) generate customer guilt.