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Managing Customer-voiced Data Vulnerability in Service Interactions

Organizations are facing growing challenges due to customer data vulnerability. This study delves into a relatively under-explored area: customer-voiced data vulnerability in service interactions. We aim to understand which response tactics employed by frontline employees (FLEs) are most successful in retaining customers. Our research uncovers a prevalent occurrence of customer-voiced data vulnerability, where customers express apprehensions about the security of their data. Additionally, we identify a distinct scenario—manifest vulnerability—where customers have already suffered negative consequences from data misuse. Furthermore, we identify three primary FLE response tactics in use: relating (expressing empathy and building rapport), educating (providing customers with information), and commitment to improvement. Through a hazard model, we discover that FLE commitment to improvement significantly enhances customer retention. However, FLEs' efforts in relating work are counterproductive to customer retention in cases of manifest vulnerability, although they do not negatively impact retention in other instances of customer-voiced data vulnerability.