The “SERVSIG Best Service Article Award” is presented annually by SERVSIG to the author(s) of the best article in the service literature published during the previous calendar year.
SERVSIG thanks the following selection committee members for their commitment and their work: Dominik Mahr (chair), Janet Davey, Rodula Tsiotsou, Jamie Burton, and Mike Giebelhausen.

The results are usually announced at the Frontiers in Service conference. This year, the following winners and finalists of the 2020 Best Service Article Award were celebrated with a digital ceremony (see at the end of this post).


Dotzel, T. & Shankar, V. (2019). The Relative Effects of Business-to-Business (vs. Business-to-Consumer) Service Innovations on Firm Value and Firm Risk: An Empirical AnalysisJournal of Marketing, 83(5), 133–152. doi: 10.1177/0022242919847221.

Many firms introduce both business-to-business service innovations (B2B-SIs) and business-to-consumer service innovations (B2C-SIs) and need to better allocate their resources. However, they are unsure about B2B-SIs’ effects on firm value or risk, especially relative to those of B2C-SIs. The authors address this problem by developing hypotheses that relate the number of B2B-SIs and B2C-SIs to firm value and firm risk together with the moderators (the number of product innovations and customer-focus innovations). To test the hypotheses, the authors develop and estimate a model using unique panel data of 2,263 SIs across 15 industries over eight years assembled from multiple data sources and controlling for firm- and market-specific factors, heterogeneity, and endogeneity. They analyze innovation announcements using natural language processing. The results show that B2B-SIs have a positive effect on firm value and an insignificant influence on firm risk. Importantly, the effect of a B2B-SI on firm value is significantly greater than that of a B2C-SI. Unlike B2C-SIs, the effect of B2B-SIs on firm value is greater when the firm has more product innovations. Surprisingly, unlike B2C-SIs, the effect of B2B-SIs on firm value is less positive when the SIs emphasize customers. These findings offer important insights about the relative value of B2B-SIs.


Bove, L.L. (2019). Empathy for service: benefits, unintended consequences, and future research agendaJournal of Services Marketing, 33(1), 31-43. doi: 10.1108/JSM-10-2018-0289

Empathy is a core characteristic of helping and caring interactions and thus is fundamental to service. Yet, to date, service marketing literature has focused on a restricted view of the value of empathy as it leads to improved service quality perceptions and successful sales outcomes. The aim of this paper is to provide a review of the empathy literature and the dispositional and situational factors affecting it, so as to further explore its potential benefits and limitations for service. A summative review of the empathy literature uncovers cause–effect relationships and their potential boundary conditions. Theoretical propositions set an agenda for future research on empathy for service that breaks new ground. Empathy can reduce anti-social, revenge, discrimination and unethical behaviors in service settings. It can also improve value-in-context experiences for users of service innovations. Notwithstanding its potential benefits, empathy can diminish the objectivity and performance of service providers when experienced at extreme levels. Empathy can also serve as an ingratiation influence tactic and can be detrimental to the target in embarrassing service contexts. This paper suggests propositions for future research to advance theory and managerial practice on the use of empathy to improve service outcomes for interacting actors. It also alludes to the potential dark side of empathy when experienced at excessive levels or when used to manipulate.

McColl-Kennedy, J. R., Zaki, M., Lemon, K. N., Urmetzer, F., & Neely, A. (2019). Gaining Customer Experience Insights That MatterJournal of Service Research, 22(1), 8–26. doi: 10.1177/1094670518812182

Contextualized in postpurchase consumption in business-to-business settings, the authors contribute to customer experience (CX) management theory and practice in three important ways. First, by offering a novel CX conceptual framework that integrates prior CX research to better understand, manage, and improve CXs—comprised of value creation elements (resources, activities, context, interactions, and customer role), cognitive responses, and discrete emotions at touchpoints across the customer journey. Second, by demonstrating the usefulness of a longitudinal CX analytic based on the conceptual framework that combines quantitative and qualitative measures. Third, by providing a step-by-step guide for implementing the text mining approach in practice, thereby showing that CX analytics that apply big data techniques to the CX can offer significant insights that matter. The authors highlight six key insights practitioners need in order to manage their customers’ journey, through (1) taking a customer perspective, (2) identifying root causes, (3) uncovering at-risk segments, (4) capturing customers’ emotional and cognitive responses, (5) spotting and preventing decreasing sales, and (6) prioritizing actions to improve CX. The article concludes with directions for future research.

Mende, M., Scott, M. L., van Doorn, J., Grewal, D., & Shanks, I. (2019). Service Robots Rising: How Humanoid Robots Influence Service Experiences and Elicit Compensatory Consumer ResponsesJournal of Marketing Research, 56(4), 535–556. doi: 10.1177/0022243718822827.

Interactions between consumers and humanoid service robots (HSRs; i.e., robots with a human-like morphology such as a face, arms, and legs) will soon be part of routine marketplace experiences. It is unclear, however, whether these humanoid robots (compared with human employees) will trigger positive or negative consequences for consumers and companies. Seven experimental studies reveal that consumers display compensatory responses when they interact with an HSR rather than a human employee (e.g., they favor purchasing status goods, seek social affiliation, and order and eat more food). The authors investigate the underlying process driving these effects, and they find that HSRs elicit greater consumer discomfort (i.e., eeriness and a threat to human identity), which in turn results in the enhancement of compensatory consumption. Moreover, this research identifies boundary conditions of the effects such that the compensatory responses that HSRs elicit are (1) mitigated when consumer-perceived social belongingness is high, (2) attenuated when food is perceived as more healthful, and (3) buffered when the robot is machinized (rather than anthropomorphized).

Digital Ceremony

Watch the video ceremony here (from 7:08):

About the award and the procedure.
The SERVSIG Board invites new volunteers to serve on the various awards committees. In the true SERVSIG spirit of inclusion, the SERVSIG Board members invite SERVSIG community members to serve and follow the defined award procedures (making sure to have representatives from various universities, continents, expertise, etc.). Based on the received proposals from the community and a defined procedure the award committee members chose the recipient. They subsequently inform the SERVSIG board and the results are shared at the Frontiers in Service Conference. The past year’s winners and the followed procedures can be checked out here.