Generic analysis of bakery service encounters in Malaysia
The study aimed to describe the staging of service encounters in a bakery in Sarawak, Malaysia. The specific aspects studied were
categories of transactions, staging of transactions, and nonverbal enactment of stages of transactions. A total of 100
interactions between Chinese vendors and Chinese, Malay, and Indigenous customers at a bakery operated by Chinese vendors in Sibu,
Sarawak were observed and recorded. The analysis revealed five categories: Instant Buying, where customers bought the cakes on the
spot; transactions where customers waited for the cakes to be baked; transactions where customers placed an order for the cakes;
transactions where the customers picked up the cakes they had ordered; and unsuccessful sales. The four obligatory stages were
Sale Request, Sale Compliance, Purchase, and Goods Handover. While all four stages could be realized nonverbally, the Purchase and
Goods Handover stages in the service encounters were always performed nonverbally. The results suggest no difference in the role
of nonverbal communication in service encounters with Chinese and non-Chinese customers but there are cultural differences in the
staging. The Chinese vendors were more likely to omit the opening (Sale Initiation and Greeting) and closing (Purchase Closure) in
their interactions with non-Chinese customers than with Chinese customers. The results suggest that service encounters in
high-context cultures involving customers from other ethnic groups are more likely to be instrumental exchanges with an omission
of the politeness rituals that characterize interpersonal relationships.
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