Responsible service employee behaviour and its impact on customer satisfaction during the coronavirus crisis

Eeva Liisa Oikarinen*, Magnus Söderlund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this study is to explore a set of mechanisms that mediate the influence of the impact of responsible service employee behaviour on customer satisfaction during the Covid-19 pandemic. A questionnaire was distributed online to UK residents who were instructed to recall and focus on either one very dissatisfying or one very satisfying face-to-face service encounter with an employee during the Covid-19 pandemic. A structural equation modelling approach was used to analyse the associations between the hypothesized response variables. The main finding was that the impact of responsible employee behaviour in service encounters on customer satisfaction was sequentially mediated by perceptions of employee morality and perceived employee humanness. A more parsimonious mediation model comprises only employee morality as a mediator. The attributions of morality to employees are important in a setting in which new social norms guide interpersonal behaviour and in which the violation of such norms can have serious health implications. This study adds empirical evidence to the emerging discourse in the service and retail literature on the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. It also contributes to the literature on customers’ moral reactions in commercial settings, and to the literature in which perceived humanness is seen as a relevant characteristic of human employees. The results imply that responsible employee behaviour should be encouraged not only from the perspective of the well-being of customers and employees, but also from a business point of view.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalInternational Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)184-200
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • covid-19
  • customer satisfaction
  • humanness
  • morality
  • responsible employee behaviour


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