- Gordhan K. Saini
- S. K. Pandey
- Archana Singh
- Gurumurthy Kalyanaram
Researchers have paid considerable attention to the concept of customer orientation, particularly in the services sector. It is shown that customer-oriented organizations are more likely to contribute to customer satisfaction and organizational goals as against organizations with no customer orientation (Brown, Mowen, Donavan, & Licata, 2002; Donavan, Brown, & Mowen, 2004; Kotler, 1998). Service employees’ direct interaction with the customer is often considered as a main determinant of the customer’s overall satisfaction (Rust, Zahorik, & Keiningham, 1995; Dobni, 2002; Donavan et al., 2004). Therefore, the study of antecedents of service employees’ attitude and behavior in service
encounters are extremely important. Service employees’ empathy (i.e., caring and individualized attention) is one such antecedent which is considered a major requirement for winning service encounters (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1988; Zeithaml, Berry, & Parasuraman, 1996; Wieseke, Geigenmuller, & Kraus, 2012) and success of service interactions is based on the intensity of empathy visible in employee customer interactions (Gabbott & Hogg, 2000). In this study, we examine the role of empathy in influencing customer orientation and their impact on job satisfaction and employees’ organizational commitment.
Insurance Services and Research Gaps
Scholars have recommended the use of relationship marketing strategy to conquer service intangibility (Berry, 1983) and have highlighted its relevance for ‘credence’ services (i.e., services that are difficult for customers to assess even after purchase and consumption) (Zeithaml, 1982). Selling of insurance, which is high on credence property, requires a high level of relationship marketing and the same could be a
time consuming process (Crosby & Stephens, 1987). Insurance is a very complex, abstract and high-on-high credence element (Lynch & Mackay, 1985) and benefits of the same are difficult to prove. Moreover, the presence of over 20 insurance companies makes the Indian insurance industry highly competitive; thus customer-oriented selling becomes important in such an environment (Singh & Das, 2012).
Cross-selling of several services to the same customers (Chen & Mau, 2009; Huang, 2008; Jeng, 2008; Verhoef, 2003; Verhoef et al., 2001) demands employees to be more empathic and customer-oriented. Additionally, Indian society being a collectivist, high-context, strong
uncertainty-avoidance, and large power-distance culture (Hofstede, 1981) puts more challenges on employee behavior while dealing with customers.