Identifying initial contacts and their functions within the service encounter
Sammanfattning: Purpose – The aim of this paper is to create an understanding of what types of initial contacts exist within the service encounter and their functions for the interaction. Design/methodology/approach – To study the initial contact between the employee and the customer, we have used a qualitative approach where observations were the data collecting method. The observations have been conducted in Karlstad at 22 different locations, which generated a total of 83 observations. These observations were analyzed and generated concepts and categories, that were incorporated into themes. Findings – The research showed five types of initial contacts could be identified along with their functions. The types identified are the time effective, the improvised, the committed, the observant and the strategic positioning. Originality/value – By narrowing the interaction to the first moment, this paper contributes knowledge about the initial contact which will facilitate frontline employees work in the face-to-face interaction with customers. Research limitation/implications for future research – The study is conducted in Karlstad. Depending on which kind of industry examined and contextual factors, variations in the result may occur. The findings could differ if cultural perspectives were considered, which could be something to include in future research. Only the face-to-face interaction is examined. This creates opportunities for future research to extend this study by, for instance, investigate the initial contact over internet or phone.
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