|M.Sc Student||Friedland Jacob|
|Subject||Apologies of Customer Service Representatives: The Dynamics|
of Apologizing to Different Types of Customers'
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Professor Anat Rafaeli|
|Full Thesis text|
Customer service representatives often experience emotional burdens due to expectations from them to express feelings that are not genuine and to suppress their own emotions. These employees are also, at times, expected to behave in manners which are incongruent with their spontaneous reactions, such as the demand to apologize to an angry customer when the employee is not responsible for the wrongdoing that angered the customer. This study addressed apologetic behaviors of service employees and tried to shed light on the dynamics of apologizing to an angry customer.
Bank employees responded to surveys that included a vignette describing an interaction between an angry customer and a bank teller. The reason for the customer's anger was either a mistake done by the teller (e.g., depositing the wrong amount of money in the customer's account) or some other reason, unrelated to the teller's actions (e.g., having to pay the bank a high commission for a transaction). Respondents were asked to describe what the response of the teller would be, measuring whether or not they apologize, how this response affects their emotional state and the difficulty of handling angry customers, and the level of identifying with the organization.
Results show that employees are far more willing to apologize for their own misconducts than for someone else's faults. When employees do apologize for anger they did not induce, the negative emotions they feel are higher, and the difficulty they experience is greater. The level of identification employees have with the organization interacts with the reason for the customer's anger in determining both apologetic behavior and the costs of apologizing: Employees with high organizational identification apologize more in cases when they are to blame for the anger, yet they apologize less in case they are not to blame, relative to employees with low organizational identification. Also, the emotional cost they experience when apologizing for someone else's fault is higher than employees with low identification.
These findings emphasize the importance of determining the right policy regarding recovery efforts and apologizing in organizations, considering the costs of apologies. Also, it highlights the value of focusing on discrete emotions in organizational research, rather than general moods.