Show your service employees on your website

The digital presence of service employees increases the perceptions customers have of their competence and commitment

Today’s marketing tip is based on research published last month in the Journal of Marketing Research. The five authors work in several institutions, including KEDGE Business School (France) and the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland).

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Display pictures of your service employees on your website to increase satisfaction and conversions

Impacted Metrics: Customer satisfaction | Customer lifetime value | Website conversions
Channels: Website | Sales team | Customer service

Recommendation

Display a picture, name, role, and contact information of one or more of your service-providing employees on your website (e.g. customer success engineer, delivery driver, insurance agent).

Effects

  • Increases service quality perception and improves memories of previous service encounters.

  • Previous research shows that this tactic also makes browsing the site more pleasant, which can increase website quality perceptions and conversion rates.

Why it works

  • Although unrelated, the digital presence of service employees increases the perceptions customers have of their competence and commitment.

  • It’s seen by customers as both an indicator and a reminder of high service quality by the company.

Limitations

  • The research was performed on service-led firms (e.g. post, insurance). The effect may also work for some product-led firms where human service may become important (e.g. SaaS), but this is unproven.

  • Only works if they are employees the customer might interact with (e.g. support agent, postman, mechanic, etc.), not other generic employees (i.e. “Team”) or generic images of people.

  • If returning customers have had a negative service experience, the effect can backfire.

Companies using this

  • Only 14% of U.S. service firms on the S&P 500 feature service employees on their websites, and 76% display images of anonymous people with no relation to the firm, which does not trigger these effects.

  • It’s likely that many haven’t taken advantage of this effect because it’s a cross channel spillover effect that’s difficult to measure (website - support - sales).

Study type

Lab and field experiments, across Western Europe and North America (Mostly United States).

Source

Herhausen, D., Emrich, O., Grewal, D., Kipfelsberger, P., & Schoegel, M. (July 2020). Face forward: How employees’ digital presence on service websites affects customer perceptions of website and employee service quality. Journal of Marketing Research.

[Link to paper]

Affiliations

KEDGE Business School, Babson College, and University of St. Gallen.

Remember: Because of the groundbreaking nature of this paper, it could be disproven in the future (although this is rare). It also may not be generalizable to your situation. If it’s a risky change, always test it on a small scale before rolling it out widely.


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