Service Provider Absenteeism: What Happens When You’re Not There? An Abstract
Service provider absenteeism is defined as an instance in which a preferred service provider is not present at the expected time of service provision. Service provider absenteeism is a topic that has remained untouched in the relationship marketing literature, and yet instances of service provider absenteeism may represent possible transformational relationship events (Harmeling, Palmatier, Houston, Arnold, and Samaha, 2015). As such, this topic should be of concern to practitioners and academics alike. The purpose of the present research is to begin the process of understanding the effects of service provider absenteeism on business-to-consumer relationships.
In order to understand absenteeism, we first conducted a review of teacher absenteeism and general workforce absenteeism. Next, we provide an overview of the research methodology and results. Due to the exploratory nature of this study, the authors utilize critical incident technique to examine themes among and categorize instances of service provider absenteeism. Using an internet-based platform, 178 incidents were collected. In these incidents, the authors find two emergent consequences of absenteeism (emotional consequences and resolutions). Based on these emergent themes, the authors identify three categories of service provider absenteeism effects. These are inconsequential, consequential-harbored, and consequential-settled.
Inconsequential cases are cases in which the emotional response to the event was weak or nonexistent. Respondents sometimes made positive assumptions about why the provider was not present, but others demonstrated a jaded attitude toward service provision. In these cases, respondents were generally indifferent to future encounters. In consequential-settled cases, strong negative emotional responses were usually reported. Unique to these cases were that some form of settlement, understanding, or resolution seemed to be reached, or the respondent made assumptions about why the provider was not present so as to put negative feelings to rest. Often times, these respondents were not opposed to future interactions, but reservations or lowered expectations were often reported. In consequential-harbored cases, which are the largest group of cases, respondents harbor ill will toward the service provider. While it was not always clear whether or not service providers had made an attempt to provide an explanation or apology, it was frequently observed that respondents either did switch providers, wished that they could switch providers, or entertained the idea of switching service providers.
The authors close with managerial implications and suggestions for future research. The authors specifically discuss working toward a model that explains the effects of service provider absenteeism on customer loyalty and switching behavior.