Light Takes

Accents Have Impact on Customer Experience: Study

March 20th 2015 - Friday

University of Adelaide marketing researcher Dr Sally Rao Hill says new research shows the accent of a service employee can have an impact on the customer’s experience.

Rao Hill, from the University’s Business School, conducted the first research of its kind into foreign accents and customer service, with the findings published in the European Journal of Marketing. Rao Hill says the study found that encountering service employees with an accent different from a customer’s home country is becoming increasingly common, and this can have a negative impact if the service employee is incompetent or the customer is already in a negative state.

“Communication between service employees and customers is critical in all exchanges, and while there has been a lot of research into various aspect of customer service, until now there was very little on the impact of a foreign accent,” Rao Hill said. “When a customer is confronted with an incompetent service employee with a foreign accent, negative emotions like fear and sadness are increased, while when the service employee has an Australian accent, there is no significant effect on the customer’s emotions.”