A new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) examines how the location or context of a service facilitates or constrains customer-employee relationships and thereby affects service dynamics.
Using the cruise ship as an ad hoc laboratory, the study identifies four types of service relationships in the shipboard environment: the passenger as expert, the passenger as manager, the passenger as friend, and the passenger as a team member.
As explained in the CHR report, “Managing Context to Improve Cruise Line Service Relationships,” by Judi Brownell, managers can use this framework as a tool for anticipating the challenges that emerge and identifying strategies to improve service delivery in each relationship.
“Due to the distinctive features of the cruise ship environment, these four relationships serve as an effective framework for examining the customer’s role in creating his or her service experience,” explained Brownell, who is a professor of organizational behavior at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.
“Based on my interviews and on numerous studies of the interactions between customers and employees, the passenger roles that emerged suggest direction for both researchers and practitioners.”