How and why (imagined) online reviews impact frontline retail encounters

Ben Marder, Rob Angell, Eric Boyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This research examines how frontline retail employees respond to customers whom they think might write an online review about their experience. Across six experiments (one field and five online) we show that when employees identify potential online review authors, often by what the customer says or does, it catalyzes them to deliver better service. This ensues because they experience a rise in determination to do well, motivated by the prospect of being associated with a positive review, which they believe will impress the retailer. Thus, they go ‘above and beyond’. However, determination is tempered by two boundary conditions. When employees (i) do not consider that being associated with an online review is beneficial (i.e., not goal relevant) or (ii) feel poorly equipped to serve the customer (i.e., low in self-efficacy), then a better service delivery will not occur. We also show that retailers can enhance customer service through internal championing of the importance of online reviews, so long as this is framed as promotional rather than punitive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of retailing
Issue number2
Early online date5 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • online reviews
  • monitoring
  • frontline employees
  • employee performance
  • self-efficacy
  • goal relevance


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