University of Oulu

Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen & Magnus Söderlund (2022) Responsible service employee behaviour and its impact on customer satisfaction during the coronavirus crisis, The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research, 32:2, 184-200, DOI: 10.1080/09593969.2022.2047757

Responsible service employee behaviour and its impact on customer satisfaction during the coronavirus crisis

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Author: Oikarinen, Eeva-Liisa1; Söderlund, Magnus2
Organizations: 1Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Marketing and Strategy, Center for Consumer Marketing, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-09-21


The purpose of this study is to explore a set of mechanisms that mediate the influence of the impact of responsible service employee behaviour on customer satisfaction during the Covid-19 pandemic. A questionnaire was distributed online to UK residents who were instructed to recall and focus on either one very dissatisfying or one very satisfying face-to-face service encounter with an employee during the Covid-19 pandemic. A structural equation modelling approach was used to analyse the associations between the hypothesized response variables. The main finding was that the impact of responsible employee behaviour in service encounters on customer satisfaction was sequentially mediated by perceptions of employee morality and perceived employee humanness. A more parsimonious mediation model comprises only employee morality as a mediator. The attributions of morality to employees are important in a setting in which new social norms guide interpersonal behaviour and in which the violation of such norms can have serious health implications. This study adds empirical evidence to the emerging discourse in the service and retail literature on the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also contributes to the literature on customers’ moral reactions in commercial settings, and to the literature in which perceived humanness is seen as a relevant characteristic of human employees. The results imply that responsible employee behaviour should be encouraged not only from the perspective of the well-being of customers and employees, but also from a business point of view.

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Series: International review of retail, distribution and consumer research
ISSN: 0959-3969
ISSN-E: 1466-4402
ISSN-L: 0959-3969
Volume: 32
Issue: 2
Pages: 184 - 200
DOI: 10.1080/09593969.2022.2047757
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Copyright information: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.