University of Oulu

Magnus Söderlund, Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen, Joking with customers in the service encounter has a negative impact on customer satisfaction: Replication and extension, Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Volume 42, 2018, Pages 55-64, ISSN 0969-6989,

Joking with customers in the service encounter has a negative impact on customer satisfaction : replication and extension

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Author: Söderlund, Magnus1; Oikarinen, Eeva-Liisa2
Organizations: 1Stockholm School of Economics, P.O. Box 6501, SE-113 83 Stockholm, Sweden
2Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2021-02-06


Previous research has indicated that employee joke-telling in the service encounter can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction, particularly with respect to perceived overall message relevance as a mediating variable. The present study is an attempt to examine if these results would be replicated in service encounter settings with other characteristics. Two experiments were conducted, and the previous pattern was reproduced: customer satisfaction was reduced when employees told jokes compared to when jokes were not told. The results also indicate that employee joke-telling reduced both perceived relevance and positive affect, and that these two variables mediated the association between employee joke-telling and customer satisfaction. The results should be seen in contrast to several humor studies in an advertising context showing that humor-comprising ads can have positive effects on the receiver. One main reason for the differences is that a service encounter typically includes also other elements than humor in the employee’s communication with a customer, and that employee humor usage attenuates the customer’s attention to and comprehension of those other elements.

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Series: Journal of retailing and consumer services
ISSN: 0969-6989
ISSN-E: 1873-1384
ISSN-L: 0969-6989
Volume: 42
Pages: 55 - 64
DOI: 10.1016/j.jretconser.2018.01.013
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Copyright information: © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license