Customer reactions to service separation

Hean Tat Keh, Jun Pang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research suggests that inseparability is not a universal distinguishing characteristic of services and that the consumption of many services is or can be separated from their production. This research defines service separation as customers? absence from service production, which denotes the spatial separation between service production and consumption. In a series of qualitative and quantitative studies across different services, the authors examine customer reactions to service separation. The results indicate that service separation increases customers? perceptions of not only access convenience and benefit convenience but also performance risk and psychological risk. Furthermore, these effects differ across services. Specifically, relative to experience services, for credence services, the effects of separation on service convenience are mitigated, and the effects on perceived risk are magnified. Subsequently, the convenience and risk perceptions induced by service separation can influence customers? purchase decisions and postexperience evaluations. Customers prefer separation for experience services and when they have an established relationship with the service provider. Finally, the authors discuss the theoretical contributions and managerial implications and offer directions for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55 - 70
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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