Customer feedback can spur employees’ creativity

New York, Oct 15 (IANS) Allowing customers to give feedback to service providers can motivate employees to come up with creative solutions, thereby improving customer satisfaction, says a new study.

“The findings suggest that service creativity is a powerful avenue through which customer satisfaction can be achieved,” said study co-author Jing Zhou, professor at Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, in Houston, US.

“Service creativity allows employees to delight customers in unusual ways or solve problems that existing protocol falls short of addressing,” Zhou noted.

The research was based on a multilevel analysis of multi-source survey data from 380 hairstylists matched with 3,550 customers in 118 hair salons belonging to a large salon chain in Taiwan.

Although the study was conducted in the beauty service industry, the theoretical framework the authors developed addresses fundamental psychological processes that are universal for individual employees, the authors said.

By helping customers realise that they can promote new service ideas or solutions and other positive service outcomes through behaviours such as expressing confidence in service employees and consulting employees for their opinions, managers can facilitate employee creativity through customers, Zhou pointed out.

“Because front-line employees engage in contact with customers on a daily basis, they may have a better sense in terms of the issues that customers are concerned about the most and how to solve these problems in a novel and practical way,” Zhou said.

“As a result, empowering employees — rather than closely monitoring and controlling them — may be a more effective way to enable employees to provide satisfying service,” Zhou explained.

The study will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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