This research investigates customer-employee interaction during service encounters, and whether the relationships between customer personality traits and quality of the employee’s service delivery will impact the customer’s participation, satisfaction, and repurchase intentions. Consumer personality is differentiated in terms of the self-monitoring (Snyder 1987) and locus of control (Rotter 1966) traits. Service quality provision is manipulated in terms of technical versus functional quality inputs, and whether these inputs are provided in a positive (i.e., good/superior) or negative (i.e., bad/poor) manner. These manipulations yield four combinations of service quality inputs: 1) positive technical and functional quality inputs; 2) positive technical, but negative functional quality inputs; 3) negative technical, but positive functional quality inputs; or 4) negative technical and functional quality inputs.
It was hypothesized that the effect of service quality inputs upon customer participation, satisfaction and behavioral intentions will interact with individual differences. In particular, customers with high self-monitoring personality styles will prefer to participate most actively in situations where the service provider’s inputs are strongly differentiated in terms of positive functional quality, rather than technical quality. In contrast, customers with internal locus of control personality styles will prefer to participate most actively in situations where the service provider’s inputs are strongly differentiated in terms of positive technical quality, rather than functional quality. Moreover, customers will evaluate these encounters concomitantly. Thus, it was hypothesized that customer participation can have both positive and negative outcomes depending on the psychological style of the customer and on the type of service quality inputs. The study results indicate that components of technical and functional quality inputs into the service creation and delivery, and personality trait differences, can have varying impacts upon the overall service quality evaluations of customers, their generalized satisfaction with service encounters, and their repurchase intentions.
This dissertation consists of the following sections: first, a gap in the literature is exposed that suggests a potential area of contribution; second, the conceptual framework for the study is provided; third, the study design is presented along with the results of the empirical research, and finally, the conclusions and managerial and research implications are discussed.