Service customization through employee adaptiveness

Kevin P. Gwinner, M J Bitner, Stephen W. Brown, Ajith Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

270 Scopus citations


Customization strategies aimed at providing customers with individually tailored products and services are growing in popularity. In a service context, the responsibility for customization frequently falls on the shoulders of frontline customer contact employees. Few marketing scholars, however, have considered what it means to be adaptive in these roles and how customization behaviors can be encouraged. Drawing on marketing, organizational behavior, and psychology literatures, the authors define and empirically test antecedents of two distinct dimensions of employee adaptive behavior: interpersonal adaptive behavior and service-offering adaptive behavior. Results indicate that an employee's level of customer knowledge, certain personality predispositions, and intrinsic motivation positively influence the propensity to adapt both their interpersonal style and the actual service offering. Implications for market segmentation, employee selection, training, and motivation are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-148
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Service Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Adaptive behavior
  • Call center
  • Customer service representative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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