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NextGen Magazine


Study: Temperature Affects Customer Service Quality

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 31, 2017

A study says that when temperatures soar, customer service plummets, as uncomfortably hot days drain people's willingness to be helpful, according to Kellogg Insight. The study examined customer service data from a Russian leather and travel goods retailer before and after the country experienced a record-setting heatwave. Even after controlling for number of sales staff on duty, the researchers found that customer service during the heat wave was worse than when temperatures were normal. Specifically, it found that sales staff were half as likely to help customers during the heatwave than they were at the same time the following summer, which was relatively cool. 

To test their hypothesis further, they also divided a class into two rooms, only one of which had air conditioning. The researchers asked both groups for volunteers to take a 150-question survey, saying they could stop at any time. Those in the air conditioned room filled out an average of 35 questions, while those in the hot room answered only an average of six. 

They also conducted another study where they asked some online participants to think about the last time they were uncomfortably hot, and others to think about just what they did the previous day. They were then asked to describe how tired they were and how their overall mood was, as well as whether they would volunteer to take a short survey. Those who had been thinking about being hot reported being tired and in a worse mood, and were less likely to take the additional survey. 

The researchers believe that when people are uncomfortable (they used heat for the study but suggested any sort of discomfort can trigger this effect), they are more preoccupied with their own needs and their self-control isn't as strong, which makes people less likely to think about helping others.