Ethnic Congruity Motive: When Service Encounters with Hispanic Frontline Employees Enhance Hispanic Customers’ Service Satisfaction
This research examines the impact of an ethnic congruity motive on Hispanic customers’ service satisfaction via the mediating role of sense of power during the service encounter. Across three web-based experiments, this research empirically tests the impact of Hispanic customers’ ethnic congruity motive (desire to be served by a Hispanic [vs. non-Hispanic] service provider) on service satisfaction mediated by sense of power using a linear regression-based approach. Results show that customers’ ethnic congruity motive is positively associated with satisfaction toward service by an ethnically congruent employee and this association is stronger than the positive association between customers’ ethnic incongruity motive and satisfaction toward service by an ethnically incongruent employee. Furthermore, sense of power during the service encounter mediates the effect of ethnic congruity motive on satisfaction, but not of ethnic incongruity motive. The findings support prior research findings that customer–employee ethnic congruity provides a competitive advantage. However, this research provides deeper insight into the power-related mechanism that underlies ethnic congruity effects, which suggests that being served by an employee of a particular ethnic background can enhance service satisfaction through consumers’ sense of power. Managers can leverage this effect by training employees to recognize ethnically congruent customers, segmenting ethnic consumers based on ethnic congruity motive, as well as by training frontline employees to leverage customers’ sense of power during the service encounter.
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