Does emotional labor color service actions in customer buying?

Tali Seger-Guttmann, Hana Medler-Liraz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Service research has highlighted the role of emotional labor in service delivery but has neglected service employees’ actions. This study aims to distinguish between the recurrent in-role and extra-role actions of service employees and to examine the joint effect of service employees’ actions and their emotional labor, which may color these actions on customer buying behavior (number of purchased items and total bill). Design/methodology/approach: Phase I comprised two studies: Study 1 examined 70 service interaction videos to identify employees’ service actions, and Study 2 quantitatively validated the most frequent employee actions, used for further study, by examining 40 employee–customer interactions in fashion stores. For Phase II, Study 3 derived data from 60 service employees’ diaries to predict the joint effect of performed emotional labor and service actions on customer buying behavior. Findings: Findings revealed that emotional labor moderated the relationship between service actions and customer buying behavior. The relationship between in-role/extra-role actions and buying behavior was stronger in the lower surface-acting (less emotional faking) condition, whereas the relationship between in-role/extra-role actions and buying behavior was stronger for the higher deep-acting (more emotionally authentic) condition. Practical implications: Service organizations should not limit training to the more easily attained service actions. This possibility may be lacking if it ignores the emotional component that accompanied the action. This may shift the focus from customer satisfaction to customer delight. Originality/value: This study is a pioneering effort to examine the specific circumstances in which service employees’ actions (regardless of in-role or extra-role status) will not produce the desired customer-related outcome in the presence of emotional labor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-696
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Buying behavior
  • Customer service
  • Emotion
  • Emotional labor
  • Frontline service employees
  • In-role/extra-role actions
  • Service delivery
  • Service employees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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