The value of knowing what customers really want: The impact of salesperson ability to read non-verbal cues of affect on service quality

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Despite recognition of the importance of the retail environment to customer experience, relatively little systematic research considers how social environmental cues might affect this experience. Two experimental studies test the relationship between salesperson ability to read customer affect and perceived service quality between two samples of student participants. Consistent with the hypotheses, when a salesperson demonstrates an ability to read customer affect, customers perceive higher service quality (Study 1). Interestingly, it seems these effects hold only for customers who interact with the salesperson and not for those who observe an interaction between a salesperson and another customer (Study 2). For each study, participants imagined they were customers and judged scenarios that depicted a salesperson demonstrating ability or inability to read non-verbal cues to customer affect.

Keywords: affect; consumer psychology; non-verbal behaviour; retailing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Oxford University, UK 2: Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania, USA 3: Quinnipac University, Connecticut, USA 4: Bentley College, Massachusetts, USA 5: Brandeis University, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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