Cécile Delcourt, University of Liege, Belgium
Dwayne D. Gremler, Bowling Green State University
Allard C. R. van Riel, Radboud University, The Netherlands
Marcel van Birgelen, Radboud University, The Netherlands

Service encounters can be emotionally charged for customers, such as when employees deliver bad news to them. Yet current research provides little insight into which employee competencies customers value, or the extent of their value, in emotionally charged circumstances. This study examines the effects of two influential employee competencies—employee emotional competence (EEC) and employee technical competence (ETC)—on negative customer emotions, rapport, and encounter satisfaction in emotionally charged service encounters. The results of the experiment suggest that EEC moderates the effect of ETC on customer outcomes, such as negative emotions, rapport, and encounter satisfaction. The findings encourage managers to provide employees with training to improve their emotional competence, which strengthens the impact of ETC on customer experiences in emotionally charged service encounters, and to screen potential employees on these competencies when hiring new staff.


This paper is currently under review at a journal.