Poor and rich customers in the service encounter

Magnus Soderlund*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine categorization leakage from employees in service encounters in terms of indications that the customer has been categorized as either poor or rich. Given that customers perceive themselves as belonging to one of these two categories, leakage can result in perceptions of the categorization as either correct or incorrect, and the specific purpose is to assess the impact of such outcomes on customer satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach: Two between-subjects experiments were used to manipulate service employees’ leakage of categorization clues; the participants were subject to leakage comprising clues that they had been categorized as either poor or rich. The participants’ self-perceived membership in the poor and rich categories was used as a measured factor. Findings: The results indicate that customers are indeed sensitive to how they are categorized in service encounters. More specifically, when categorization in terms of the categories poor and rich was leaked to the customer, being correctly categorized (either as poor or rich) was more satisfying than being incorrectly categorized. In addition, given the valenced charge of these two categories, the results indicate that the category charge per se also influences satisfaction. Originality/value: The present study adds employee categorization leakage to the existing literature dealing with employee-related factors affecting customer satisfaction in service encounters.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Service Management
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)265-283
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Categorization
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Poor and rich customers
  • Service encounters
  • Service marketing


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