Service Scripting: A Customer’s Perspective of Quality and Performance

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Victorino, Liana, Ph.D.; Verma, Rohit, Ph.D.; Wardell, Don, Ph.D.
hospitality; service scripting; customer service; guest interactions; Business; Hospitality Administration and Management
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article description
Many hospitality services are scripted, under the theory that scripts are an efficient method of ensuring a consistent level of service quality. However, few empirical studies have examined how the use of scripts affects the customer’s view of service quality. Using videotape scenarios in an experimental setting, this study tests the effects that scripts have on perceptions of service quality in two types of hotel service interactions—namely, a standardized encounter (in this case, check-in) and a customized encounter (i.e., concierge service). As a starting point, this study found that customers are able to detect when scripts are in use in both kinds of interactions. Moreover, the study points out the value of taking customers’ views into account when designing services. For the standardized interaction, respondents to this study reported no difference in their perceptions of service quality regardless of whether the scenario was highly scripted, moderately scripted, or relaxed (essentially, improvised). In contrast, for the concierge service, respondents perceived that a heavy use of scripting diminished service quality. At the same time, a moderate or relaxed approach to scripting for the customized concierge scenarios had no effect on respondents’ perception of service quality. This study suggests that hotel managers should be circumspect in scripting customized encounters, but may apply scripts to standardized services without diminishing perceptions of service quality.