The Impact of Culture on Customer Service

The Impact of Culture on Customer Service

A new study shows that where a customer comes from plays a big role in how services are evaluated.

The study, carried out by Martin Reimann of USC, Ulrich F. Luenemann of California State University Sacramento, and Richard B. Chase of USC Marshall School, examined the impact of uncertainty avoidance on how the perception of a service drives customer satisfaction.

“Uncertainty avoidance indicates the extent to which members of a culture feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations. People in uncertainty avoiding cultures are less comfortable, while those from uncertainty accepting cultures are more tolerant of unexpected changes,” said Reimann, a USC researcher in marketing and psychology, who began the study while at Stanford University.

The study found that in cultures where uncertainty avoidance plays an important role (for example, where numerous rules and rituals are established to cope with uncertainty in the future), a service must be much closer to what customers expect than in more risk tolerant cultures. Indeed, even small deviations from expectations result in high dissatisfaction among such customers, as their large-scale empirical study revealed.

The authors emphasize that, “there is very little chance to prevent a service defect when the customer encounters a situation or behavior that does not conform to his or her cultural expectations.”

Katia Reed

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