Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type

Professional Project

Degree Name

Masters in Leadership Studies


College of Professional Studies


The relevance of competitive differentiation for any business that strives to achieve success is undeniable. An awareness of how to best satisfy the customer is instrumental in helping a company to distinguish itself from the competition. Service firms in particular realize that the customer’s perception of service quality can prove to be a valuable asset in the quest for customer satisfaction and retention. In the customer’s eyes, evaluation of the service experience as satisfying or less than satisfying is largely dependent upon the treatment extended by frontline employees during the face-to-face service encounter. The aim of this qualitative study was to investigate the important factors that may potentially impact delivery of a high-quality customer experience by the contact personnel who are charged with representing the company’s services. This research employs instrumental case study methodology. Subjects were recruited via nonprobability, purposive expert sampling and included managers or supervisors of front-line customer-contact employees representing hotel properties as well as a private, four-year university. All organizations are located within the metropolitan Milwaukee area. Data were collected from nine informants using semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. The gathered information was then transcribed and analyzed to identify significant themes. Recurring themes that surfaced in the scholarly literature review aligned closely with the current study’s findings. Findings suggest that attention directed at workplace climate, hiring qualifications, service training, job satisfaction, and reward/recognition programs on the part of management can likely produce employees that are better prepared and more motivated to carry out the responsibilities of their critical front-line service role, thus leading to customer satisfaction.