Don’t just fix it, make it better! Using frontline service employees to improve recovery performance
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- van der Heijden, G.A.H., Schepers, J.J.L., Nijssen, E.J. et al. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2013) 41: 515. doi:10.1007/s11747-012-0324-3
This study examines how frontline service employees (FSEs) can learn from recovery services and improve their performance accordingly. While research recognizes that FSEs can fulfill an innovation role by sourcing customer knowledge and developing ideas for performance improvement, it remains unclear whether such a role benefits or impairs the FSE’s primary recovery service role of providing efficient and thorough solutions to customer problems. This research models both FSE roles and explores under which conditions it is beneficial for FSEs to engage in an additional innovation role. The model is tested using survey and objective data from 134 FSEs. PLS results reveal that the innovation role is detrimental because sourcing knowledge from customers takes time and effort, but also beneficial because knowledge sourcing triggers FSEs to develop ideas for improvement, which positively influence their recovery speed and recovery quality. Managers can strengthen these positive effects of knowledge sourcing by optimizing an FSE’s service portfolio (i.e., the combination of products, customers, and failures an employee is responsible for), which leverages the effects of knowledge sourcing on ideas for improvement.