Purpose – The purpose of this study is to investigate the contribution of benevolence as a moderator variable that enhances the effect of service employees' competence on the customer's perception of a service firm's image. Design/methodology/approach – A hierarchical multiple regression analysis was performed on data collected from 445 customers in a financial service setting to assess the influence of competence and benevolence, as well as their interactive effects on corporate image. Findings – The results show a significant interaction between competence and benevolence in their influence on corporate image. The results reinforce the idea that benevolence intervenes as a moderator variable that enhances the impact of competence on corporate image. Research limitations/implications – The study has limited generalisation given the convenient sample and the great variety of service industries. The efficacy of the direct measures and the hierarchical multiple regression must be considered. It would be helpful to realise similar studies in other service settings by using multidimensional scales of competence, benevolence and corporate image. Practical implications – Service firms should not only highlight the role of the service employees' expertise but also their attitude and behaviour during the service encounter in a manner so as to increase the customer's trust in the firm's capability, to satisfy his/her needs and to enhance the firm's image. Originality/value – The present study contributes specifically to understanding how major characteristics of service employees can influence the assessment of corporate image by consumers.
Journal of Services Marketing – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 2, 2011
Keywords: Competences; Benevolence; Service employees; Corporate image; Financial services; Credit unions; Canada
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