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People of color get so used to discrimination in stores they don’t always notice bad customer service

Posted May 12, 2023

People from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups tend to rate poor customer service less negatively than white people do, according to new peer-reviewed research co-authored by Iowa State University Associate Professor of Marketing Samantha Cross.

Many companies in the service sector, such as banks and airlines, use customer satisfaction surveys so they can figure out how to improve their operations. There’s an implicit assumption that the feedback given will accurately reflect the actual quality of the service provided.

Companies may also assume that customers, regardless of their socioeconomic background, will give similar evaluations for good service – and that people will recognize poor or discriminatory service when they experience it.

Cross’ research team wanted to see if that’s really the case.

Read Cross’ full co-authored article in The Conversation here.