Connection or Competence: Emotional Labor and Service Quality’s Impact on Satisfaction and Loyalty

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International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

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Purpose As a service segment, the food and beverage industry has great potential for intensive interface between the consumer and the service provider and between the service provider and the back of the house staff. Given the significance of the perception of the provision of service to the consumer, it is important to study every aspect of the interaction. With this in mind, the purpose of this study is to examine the relationships between emotional labor, service quality, purpose of consumption, satisfaction and customer loyalty as seen through the perceptions of the consumer. Design/methodology/approach Survey data were collected from 400 respondents using an online market research firm in the USA. This research used three independent variables (emotional labor, service quality and purpose of consumption), each with two levels in a between-subjects 2 × 2 × 2 factorial experimental design. Eight scenarios were used to represent the eight different combinations of variables to test their effects. Findings Two very interesting findings emerged from this study. The first was that consumers’ purpose of consumption, whether dining for leisure or business, had no significant impact on their satisfaction or loyalty, either independently or in conjunction with emotional labor or service quality. The second most interesting finding was that the interaction of service quality and emotional labor did have a significant impact on satisfaction but not loyalty. Practical implications A restaurants’ standards of service should be the same, regardless of the business or leisure demographic being served. Authenticity matters, and therefore, employers should incorporate personality evaluation into the hiring process. Perhaps, focusing more on attitude and less on skill would lead to great customer satisfaction and loyalty. Originality/value This article furthers the relatively young research stream examining the impacts of emotional labor on the consumer.


Customer loyalty; Customer satisfaction; Emotional labour; Food and beverage; Restaurant industry; Service quality


Hospitality Administration and Management



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