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Service Improvisation as a Double-Edged Sword

Hyunghwa Oh is a Ph.D. Candidate at Kansas State University; Jichul Jang is Assistant Professor at Kansas State University.

Service employees often confront unexpected requests and behaviors from customers. Thus, employees’ ability to response immediately to address unexpected requests is inevitable to resolve those issues which in turn increases customer satisfaction and competitive advantages (Secchi, Roth, & Verma, 2016). Drawing on conservation of resource theory, this study investigates the role of service improvisation in resolving service failures as a positive effect while examining its relationship with emotional exhaustion as a negative effect simultaneously.  In particular, the buffering role of support for creativity and creative self-efficacy was examined on the service improvisation-emotional exhaustion link. This study found a double-edged sword effect of service improvisation by revealing both positive (i.e., service recovery performance) and negative links (i.e., emotional exhaustion). Also, the positive link between service improvisation and emotional exhaustion was weakened for the group measuring both high support for creativity and high creative self-efficacy.

Our findings offer significant insights to practitioners in the restaurant industry. While employees’ service improvisation improves their service recovery performance, the level of emotional exhaustion also increases concurrently. To minimize the negative effect of service improvisation, service organizations should form a working environment where creative solutions to problems are highly supported.  Thus, service employees could freely come up with new ideas and solutions by continuously trying to resolve customers’ unexpected requests in creative ways that do not exist in current work scripts. Second, hiring service employees who possess high level of creative self-efficacy are recommended since they are more resilient toward creative ideas and have less stress from those creative solutions (Tierney & Farmer, 2011).  

References
Secchi, E., Roth, A., & Verma, R. (2016). The role of service improvisation in improving hotel customer satisfaction. Cornell Hospitality Report, 16(1), 3-10.
Tierney, P., & Farmer, S. M. (2011). Creative self-efficacy development and creative performance over time. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(2), 277-293.

 

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