Emotional intelligence in transcendent customer experiences

Academic Article


  • Purpose This services marketing research provides a theoretical framework for experiential and relationship marketing and extends the theory of transcendent customer experience (TCE). Specifically, this paper aims to identify how the drivers (emotional intelligence [EI]), outcomes (customer loyalty, willingness to pay and word of mouth [WOM] intentions) and influences (openness to experience) of TCE are integrated. The research contributes to the theoretical debate regarding ability-based and self-reported EI measures by examining their influence on TCE. Design/methodology/approach Students and general consumers provided data through structured online surveys in three survey-based experiments. Linear and multiple regressions, mediation analyses and simple effects tests were used for data analysis. Findings Findings suggest that self-reported and ability-based measures of EI influence TCE differently. Participants who had high self-reported EI evaluated positive service encounters as more transcendent than they evaluated negative service encounters. Participants who had high ability-based EI evaluated positive service encounters as less transcendent than they evaluated negative service encounters. TCE experiences evoked higher loyalty, willingness to pay (WTP) and WOM recommendations. Furthermore, dispositional factors were significant in forming TCE: participants who were highly open to experience and had high ability-based EI interpreted their service encounter as less transcendent than did participants who were more closed to experience and had low ability-based EI. Research limitations/implications TCE, a relatively new concept, offers theoretical advancement in context and constructs. The student-provided data gave high internal validity; the general consumer-provided data gave external validity. Ideally, a future field study in an actual consumption setting should replicate the findings. A self-reported questionnaire used to measure constructs may have introduced common method variance that biased the results. Practical implications By understanding that EI affects perceptions of transcendence in positive/negative service encounters, marketers can better implement consumer-oriented marketing strategies that will enhance TCE, customer loyalty, WTP and WOM. Originality/value Despite considerable research in experiential and relationship marketing, room remains for theoretical and practical enhancement in the under-researched concept of TCE. This research is the first attempt to extend TCE theory to marketing by identifying the drivers, outcomes and moderators of TCE in service encounters. The research also provides theoretical advancement in EI research. The results contradict previous research claiming that ability-based and self-reported measures are equally valid. Instead, using the two EI scales interchangeably leads to potentially different outcomes.
  • Authors

  • Sukhu, Anupama
  • Seo, Soobin
  • Scharff, Robert
  • Kidwell, Blair
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • 2018
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In


  • Customer loyalty
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Service encounter
  • Transcendent customer experience
  • Willingness to pay
  • Word of mouth recommendations
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 709
  • End Page

  • 720
  • Volume

  • 35
  • Issue

  • 7