Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify the practices used by service providers to manage the customer service experience (CSE) across multiple phases of the customer journey in a business-to-business (B2B) setting. Design/methodology/approach: This study comprises an ethnography that investigates in real time, from a dyadic perspective, and the CSE management practices at two service providers operating in knowledge-intensive service industries over a period of eight months. Analytically, the study concentrates on critical events that occurred in phases of the customer journey that in some way alter CSE, thus making it necessary for service providers to act to keep their customers satisfied. Findings: The study uncovers four types of service provider practices that vary based on the mode of organization (ad hoc or regular) and the mode of engagement (reactive or proactive) and based on whether they restore or bolster CSE, including the recurrence of these practices in the customer journey. These practices are conveniently presented in a circumplex typology of CSE management across five phases in the customer journey. Research limitations/implications: This paper advances the research in CSE management throughout the customer journey in the B2B context by showing that CSE management is dynamic, recurrent and multifaceted in the sense that it requires different modes of organization and engagement, notably during interaction with customers, in different phases of the customer journey. Practical implications: The circumplex typology acts as a tool for service providers, helping them to redesign their CSE management practices in ongoing service and dialogical processes to keep their customers more engaged and satisfied. Originality/value: This paper is the first to infuse a dyadic stance into the ongoing discussion of CSE management practices in B2B, in which studies to date have deployed only provider or customer perspectives. In proposing a microlevel view, the study identifies service providers' CSE management practices in multiple customer journey phases, especially when the situation becomes critical.
- B2B knowledge-intensive services
- Critical events
- Customer journey
- Customer service experience management
- Dyadic perspective
- Ethnographic study