Going the Extra Mile, Now or After a While: The Impact of Employee Proactivity in Retail Service Encounters on Customers’ Shopping Responses
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionOtterbring, T., Arsenovic, J., Samuelsson, P., Malodia, S., & Dhir, A. (2023). Going the Extra Mile, Now or After a While: The Impact of Employee Proactivity in Retail Service Encounters on Customers’ Shopping Responses. British Journal of Management. 10.1111/1467-8551.12765
Employee proactivity has been discussed as a key predictor of firm success and organizational performance. However, previous proactivity research has rarely focused on customers, and the few available proactivity studies from retail settings are either cross-sectional, solely based on subjective outcomes (e.g. customer satisfaction) or restricted to aggregated data of objective outcomes (e.g. profits per store). We investigate the causal effect of employee proactivity in retail service encounters on customers’ actual purchase behaviour and satisfaction ratings at the fine-grained level of individual customers. By integrating theories on social perception with prior proactivity findings, we find that employee proactivity positively predicts customers’ shopping responses. This finding extends from correlational to experimental designs across sample types and paradigms, is replicated in actual retail settings, and is mediated by customers’ perceptions of employee warmth and competence. Furthermore, the effect generalizes across several focal outcomes, including behavioural variables (spending and purchase likelihood), and is moderated by the time to employee-initiated contact in a way that goes against customers’ own beliefs. In sum, the present research quantifies the financial consequences of employee proactivity and indicates that in ordinary retail service encounters, high proactivity can compensate for delays, thus counteracting the aversive aspects of waiting.