Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Marketing and Analysis

First Advisor

Barry Babin


"You only get one chance to make a good first impression." The dissertation focuses on marketing agents; among the most visible is the "service provider." Previous research establishes the important role of cognitive social schemata in determining the way consumers react to different types of marketing agents, including service providers. In the literature review, a classification schema is developed for service provider stereotypes derived from theory using social stereotypes. The development of the Service Provider Perception Framework (SPPF) creates a classification for the individual service provider along two main dimensions: competence and affect.

In services design (particularly situations involving a first impression or service encounter that has yet to develop into a committed relationship) consumers commonly possess and maintain stereotypes for service providers based on accumulated knowledge about people in a provider category. Prior to entering a service encounter, consumers use available information to form judgments based on descriptions of the selected service provider. Due to unfamiliarity with the specific provider, consumers are apt to focus on tangible cues (stereotypical attributes) of the service provider to evaluate the level of perceived quality and satisfaction associated with the service.

This research furthers our understanding of how consumers evaluate service providers and, subsequently, the service experience. Following the development of the SPPF, this research uses two empirical studies to examine stereotypes, the use of innuendos, and various service outcomes on service encounters.

The innuendo study confirms placement of four service provider types in the SPPF and examines how consumers' perceptions of service providers change when subjects are provided incomplete information regarding only one dimension of the SPPF. The main study examines how consumers perceive service providers and the subsequent service encounter when the service provider is not what the consumer had expected to come into contact with.

This research integrates cognitive social psychology with services marketing to advance the marketing discipline. Key findings increase knowledge of service provider perceptions as viewed by consumers and recommends methods to create prosperous relationships and improve existing relationships between the provider and the consumer utilizing characteristics associated to the "type " of service provider.