Perceived Service Encounter Pace and Customer Satisfaction: An Empirical Study of Restaurant Experiences

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Purpose- Restaurant operators can process a greater number of customers and increase revenues by reducing service encounter duration during high demand periods. Actions taken to reduce duration may be experienced by customers as an increase in the pace of the service encounter. While achieving a reduction in duration may be appealing from a revenue perspective, will customers' perceptions of the resulting pace of the service encounter negatively impact their satisfaction? The aim of this paper is to propose that, in the context of restaurant experiences that are hedonic and extended in nature, the overall relationship between perceived service encounter pace and satisfaction follows an inverted U‐shape. Design/methodology/approach- Respondents were asked to recall a recent (i.e. within the last three weeks) restaurant experience, write a description of that experience, and then complete scales that measured their perceptions of pace and satisfaction with the experience. Findings- The relationship between perceived pace and satisfaction has an inverted U‐shape. This holds both at the level of the overall service encounter and by service stage within the encounter. The effect of perceived pace on satisfaction is moderated by service stage, with a greater tolerance of a faster pace during the post‐process stage than during the pre‐process or in‐process stages. Practical implications- The results of this study have implications for the application of revenue management strategies for duration control. Management need to consider the negative effect that service encounter pace can have on consumer satisfaction. Service stage should also be factored into strategy development for duration control. Originality/value- This paper extends the wait time literature, demonstrating that as the perceived pace of the service encounter increases, satisfaction increases, but only up to a point, beyond which it decreases as perceived pace continues to increase.
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restaurants; customer satisfaction; customer services quality
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Required Publisher Statement: © Emerald. Final version published as: Noone, B. M., Kimes, S. E., Mattila, A. S., & Wirtz, J. (2009). Perceived service encounter pace and customer satisfaction: An empirical study of restaurant experiences. Journal of Service Management, 20(4), 380-403. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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