Tan, H.H. and Foo, M.D., National University of Singapore, Singapore
Firms expend effort to train customer service employees to display positive emotions to the customer through behaviors such as greeting, smiling, eye contact, thanking, pleasantness and attentiveness. These employees are the main persons that customers interact with and through these interactions customers form perceptions of the firms. We extend existing work by exploring how employees' perception of firm service norms, and personality affect employees' display of positive emotions. We studied 252 interactions between cashiers and customers in seven fast-food stores-a context where service is emphasized. The findings showed that employees' perceived service norms were positively associated with displays of positive emotions while neuroticism and psychoticism traits were negatively associated with these displays. Interaction effects were found. Employees high in extroversion were less likely to display positive emotions when perceived service norms were high. Similarly, employees high in neuroticism were less likely to display positive emotions when perceived service norms were high. Individuals high in extroversion are fun loving but easily bored while individuals high in neuroticism are easily stressed. Thus, both types of individuals react negatively to circumstances that restrict their behaviors. Overall, the findings show that persons high in neuroticism make the worst service employees while persons high in extroversion are not suitable service employees when perceived norms are especially high. Future areas of research, including other types of individual characteristics such as agreeableness and self-monitoring and interaction of service employee and customer displayed emotions are proposed.