Six studies show that subtle contextual cues that increase customers' self-awareness can be used to influence their satisfaction with service providers (while holding the objective service delivery constant). Self-awareness cues tend to increase customers' satisfaction when the outcome of a service interaction is unfavorable, but they tend to decrease customers' satisfaction when the outcome of the interaction is favorable. This is because higher self-awareness increases customers' tendency to attribute outcomes to themselves rather than to the provider. Self-awareness can even influence satisfaction with service interactions that occurred far in the past. The authors demonstrate these effects across a variety of lab and field settings with different simulated retail experiences and with different real-life service interactions, including college courses, meals taken at a university cafeteria, and items purchased at an actual clothing store. The results further show that attempts to shape customers' satisfaction by means of self-awareness are more likely to be effective when there is substantial customer responsibility for the outcome; when customers' responsibility is limited, such attempts may backfire.
- customer satisfaction
- service marketing