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Customer’s Perceptions of Authenticity in a Service Encounter
Southeast Marketing Symposium (SEMS) (2011)
  • Hyunju Shin, Georgia Southern University
  • Kyoungmi Kim, The University of Alabama
  • Sharon E. Beatty, The University of Alabama
As customers have gained more persuasion knowledge about marketing gimmicks (Friestad and Wright 1994; Kirmani and Campbell 2004), their desire for authenticity has increased. Previous research on authenticity in service settings primarily focused on the employee’s emotional display (e.g., smiling) as part of a firm’s impression management strategy (e.g., Hennig-Thurau et al. 2006). It is surprising that relatively little attention has been paid to the customer’s perspective of employee authenticity as a recipient in service encounters. To this end, we explore authenticity cues in the employee’s attitude or behaviors that signal authenticity to the customer.

Three main categories of customers’ perceived authenticity cues from service employees emerged from our interpretation of the data from eighteen in-depth interviews: (1) core service delivery cues (i.e., perceived authenticity cues based on the frontline employee’s core service delivery), (2) interactional/relational cues (i.e., authenticity cues relative to the employee’s effort to build a relationship with the customer), and (3) employee presentation cues (i.e., authenticity cues given off by the frontline employee him/herself). In essence, we found that the customer’s perception of authenticity comes from not only the employee’s self-presentation (e.g., smiling) but also a global appreciation of an employee’s attitude or behaviors in his/her core service delivery processes and relationship-building efforts.
  • Authenticity,
  • Emotional display,
  • Impression management,
  • Service encounters
Publication Date
February, 2011
Oxford, MS
Citation Information
Hyunju Shin, Kyoungmi Kim and Sharon E. Beatty. "Customer’s Perceptions of Authenticity in a Service Encounter" Southeast Marketing Symposium (SEMS) (2011)
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