Breaking Barriers: How Race Shapes Service Expectations Across Actors and Contexts

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This study investigates the impact of race on Customer Service Quality Expectations (SQE) using the Similarity-Attraction Perspective within the context of all interacting service actors, including customers, service providers, and other customers. A thorough literature review of racial effects in service environments is followed by a 2 (Service Actor Race: White vs. Black) × 2 (Service Actor Role: Service Provider vs. Other Customers) × 2 (Context: Experience vs. Credence) experimental study with Black and White customers. The study revealed that customer Perceptions of Service Actor Similarity (PSIM) mediate the influence of matching Customer Race and Service Actor Race on SQE. Results indicate: 1) that SQE is higher when customers are in the presence of other Service Actors perceived to be of their own race, and 2) that the effect varies by Service Actor Role and Service Type. This is an initial attempt to explore the impact of race on Experience and Credence services by adopting a Similarity-Attraction framework considering all participants in the service environment. The findings of this study hold important managerial implications, emphasizing that businesses should be mindful of the impact of race on SQE and consider fostering a diverse and inclusive service environment to enhance customer outcomes.

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Journal of Global Scholars of Marketing Science

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