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Exploring tools for learning about customers in a service setting

Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to explore how frontline contact persons appropriate and use learning tools from the socio‐cultural context for learning about customers in their everyday work. Design/methodology/approach – The study utilises an ethnographic‐research approach involving participant observations, informal conversations, and interviews among car salespersons and service advisors at a car‐retailing company. Findings – The study comes to two main conclusions. First, learning tools are appropriated and utilised for learning about customers in a two‐layered process: interactions between frontline contact persons and the socio‐cultural context; and interactions between frontline contact persons and customers. Secondly, learning about customers can be of two types: subject‐ or object‐driven learning. Practical implications – Tools that enhance the process of learning about customers can be developed within the socio‐cultural environment of an organisation whereas tools that inhibit the learning process can be minimised. Originality/value – This paper provides a novel socio‐cultural conceptualisation of how learning about customers takes place. This approach has not been previously emphasised in service‐management research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Service Industry Management Emerald Publishing
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