How does the customer fit in relational coordination? An empirical study in multichannel retail banking
Although their importance in service operations is widely acknowledged in services marketing literature, the place and role of customers in organizational theories remain unclear. In particular, the way customers may influence the firm’s intra-organizational coordination has received little attention. By combining services marketing and intra-organizational coordination theories, this paper contends that customers may influence the coordination process among service employees, also called relational coordination. Relational coordination is a process that focuses on the interactions among the roles endorsed by employees who participate in this process, carried out through communication and a web of relationships among these participants. It is argued here that customers should be included among the set of participants in relational coordination; they might influence relational coordination among service employees through the way service employees perceive customer participation (CP) in service processes. This article proposes a conceptual framework of the potential influence of CP on relational coordination among frontline service employees, by reporting the findings of case studies carried out in two multichannel retail banks. The data analysis offers two main results. First, the way in which frontline employees perceive inputs (i.e., what customers bring to service processes) and the antecedents of CP (i.e., reasons customers participate in service processes) appears to influence relational coordination among employees. Second, this influence seems to be moderated by the nature and history of the customer–employee interaction. The data analysis also suggests mutual leniency as a potential new sub-dimension of the relationship dimension of relational coordination. Presented as five propositions, these results offer some limitations and further research directions discussed at the end of the paper.
Copyright (c) 2013 Loïc Plé
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