Understanding culture on the effectiveness of restaurant servers’ check-back style

Hye Eun Lee, Joyce Hyunjoo Hwang, Keri Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose – This study aims to, first, identify how service perception can differ depending on the customers’ cultural background during intercultural encounters and, second, provide useful and specific directions of more culturally competent service interaction to restaurant managers and servers in US restaurants. Effective exchanges between service providers and international customers are important to ensure the success of restaurants. While frequently and explicitly checking in on customers is common in the USA, this may not be preferable to people from different cultures. Design/methodology/approach – Study 1 (n = 975) utilized a survey, and Study 2 (n = 145) used an experimental design to, first, examine cultural differences between American and Japanese participants in their preferences about restaurant servers’ check-back style and, second, examined the moderating effect of culture (i.e. American and Japanese culture) on the relationship between the servers’ check-back behavior and the evaluations of service effectiveness, emotional response and the intention to return to a restaurant. Findings – The results showed that the frequency of a server’s visits had a positive effect on evaluations of service effectiveness, emotional response and intent to revisit for the Americans, but not for the Japanese. Practical implications – This research has practical implications for restaurant managers and servers who are expected to interact with international customers. They can apply the findings of this research to examine culturally appropriate check-back styles, which are an important attribute of effectiveness in intercultural service encounters in US restaurants. Originality/value – The current study indicates that providing standardized service to all customers, regardless of cultural differences, might not be ideal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1905-1926
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - 9 Nov 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Check-back
  • Consumer behavior
  • Cross-cultural studies
  • Customer services quality
  • Emotional response
  • Intent to revisit
  • Intercultural service encounter
  • Restaurants
  • Service effectiveness


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