The Effect of FLE Burnout on Customer Satisfaction and the Moderating Role of FLE Empathy in the Restaurant Industry A focus on the customer-related implications of employees’ emotional state

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To increase awareness for the customer-related implications of employees’ emotional state, this research aims to better understand the effect of perceived FLE burnout symptoms on customer satisfaction and the moderating role of perceived FLE empathy. First, a systematic literature review has been conducted in order to acquire and aggregate existing knowledge about the key concepts’ empathy and customer experience. Second, a scenario-based role-playing experiment has been performed where perceived FLE burnout symptoms (absent vs. present) and perceived FLE empathy (low vs. high) were the manipulated variables (e.g., Bitner, 1990; Karande et al., 2007; Söderlund and Rosengren, 2008). The results indicate that perceived FLE burnout symptoms have a negative effect on customer satisfaction, but perceived FLE empathy has a much stronger, positive effect on customer satisfaction, and no statistical interaction effect is present. For further research, it is suggested to focus on the real life, dyadic interactions between FLEs and customers. It is recommended to managers to focus on improving the empathic ability of FLEs in order to enhance customer satisfaction and simultaneously reduce burnout symptoms, improve business performances and increase future revenues.
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