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The Janus Face of Customer Service


Special issue call for papers from European Journal of Marketing

Guest edited by Philip J. Kitchen and Charles (Ray) Taylor


The main focus of the issue is on the fact that in spite of there being high recognition within organizations as to the importance of marketing, customer service often lags behind the lofty goals suggested by the marketing concept. Weak customer service is manifest in many ways – difficulties in consumers being able to contact organisations save by labyrinthine methods, a disinterest and disinclination by businesses to treat consumers with respect, products that do not deliver proclaimed benefits, services that do not match expectations, and products that while they satisfy needs also damage consumers and the environment.

There are now many consumer watchdog programs that all too often reveal the inability of companies (often large branded, self-proclaimed consumer oriented businesses) who only respond to complaints when under the all-seeing eye of media exposure. And, in the international/global arena, globalisation and the activities of multinationals support the nagging doubt that service for customers are noticeable more in the breach than in the observance.

So, there is something of a conundrum. There is no doubt of the success of marketing. It is a powerful and dynamic force. Yet, it does have weaknesses and problems associated with the lack of customer services or support, despite online and offline rhetoric to the contrary. Customer services seem to worsening across the Western world, with many companies using websites, telecommunication systems and email to - in effect - almost hide behind an electronic firewall which insulates the company to avoid human contact with customers and to a significant degree, disables consumers from needed interaction with businesses they have done business with. We believe that this disconnect between marketing philosophy and the customer service practices of many companies warrants academic discussion that is designed to inform and influence managerial practice. To that end, we need the contribution of outstanding academics to explore this issue holistically.

This special issue aims at opening the debate on the meaningfulness of, and challenges pertaining to customer service in the context of marketing. 

We will welcome in this issue open-minded, provocative, multi-disciplinary and eclectic perspectives that would assist in unraveling and understanding customer services.

We welcome papers with original ideas and advanced thinking concerning the subject. All papers will be subject to a double-blind peer review process. They should offer innovative insights based on rigorous and thoughtful conceptualization, literature review, empirical evidence and/or case studies. Below are a list of potential areas of contribution, but these are not necessarily prescriptive:
•    Typology of harmful customer service practices
•    Assessment of negative impact of specific customer practices on ROI
•    Assessment of negative impact of specific customer service practices on ROI
•    Exploration of the issue of “high priority” vs. “low priority” customers and whether there should be a basic level of service that can be expected.
•    Short-term vs. long-term trade-offs in profitability as a result of poor customer services
•    Recommendations for consumers for addressing customer service issues
•    Recommendations for best practices that can be implement without incurring excessive costs
•    Assessment of company goals (e.g., average revenue per customer) and their impact on customer service level.
•    Evolution of customer service, current relevance, status and application
•    Connections between customer service, marketing and communications in increasingly interconnected and interactive marketplaces/spaces.
•    The impact of customer services (positive and negative) on branding
•    Customer service and social media

Informal enquiries are welcome to Phil or Ray at: P.J.Kitchen@Salford.ac.uk or charles.r.taylor@villanova.edu

Submission information

The submission window for the issue is 1 November 2019 – 31 December 2019. It will not be possible to submit before or after this date.

Prior to submission please visit the author guidelines on the journal home page at www.emeraldinsight.com/ejm.htm From the author guidelines you will find an option to submit to the journal through the Scholar 1 submission system. Please ensure you select this special issue from the drop down menu provided during the submission procedure. The guidelines indicate the required length of manuscripts and the format in which they should be submitted. These are the standard requirements for the journal.