The customer socialization paradox: The mixed effects of communicating customer role expectations

Kenneth R. Evans, Simona Stan, Lynn Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Purpose - Increasingly companies ask customers to participate in creating and producing services. This research aims to explore the effect that communicating role expectations to customers may have on their processing and evaluation of the encounter. Design/methodology/approach - A dyadic experiment using prototypical customer-couples and practicing insurance agents was implemented. Couples and agents were randomly assigned to dyads, which were then assigned to one of two conditions - a no-expectations or an expectations condition. Post-encounter, couples evaluated service quality and indicated their satisfaction, trust and anticipation of future interaction. Findings - The study found that socialized customers relied more on service quality in evaluating the encounter than did unsocialized customers. However, socialized wives showed decreased trust, satisfaction and anticipation of future interaction than did non-socialized wives (no significant differences for husbands). Research limitations/implications - Expectations were simply provided to customers; and these expectations were framed to emphasize the benefits of complying with expectations may mitigate some negative effects of socialization. Practical implications - While socialized customer outcomes declined, these customers relied more on the service quality elements of the encounter rather than peripheral elements beyond the control of the firm and the service provider. These findings highlight the caution managers must exercise as they juggle the trade-offs inherent in communicating the customer's expanded role in the service production. Originality/value - The customer's role in creating and producing service experiences has received increased attention. This research offers evidence that the benefits achieved through increased customer participation have costs to be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008


  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer services quality
  • Customers
  • Influence
  • Socialization
  • Trust


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