Two key elements of service satisfaction for customers are the perception that they have at least some control or choice and that the service provider is being fair. That notion was tested in a video-based experiment in which 50 subjects watched either a restaurant-based or hotel-based scenario that depicted an employee's response to the subject's request for a change in the original order or reservation. In half the scenarios the guest's wish was granted and in half; it was not. Whether the request was granted or not, in half the scenarios the employee behaved in a fair fashion (by being considerate, knowledgeable, impartial, and consistent) and in half the employee did not behave fairly. Respondents in the hotel scenarios confirmed the experimental hypothesis by indicating that they would be more satisfied in the scenarios where they had control (that is, ability to make a choice) and even if they did not have a choice, when the employee was fair. In the restaurant scenarios, having some control led to satisfaction, but employee fairness did not counteract a lack of control.
Namasivayam, K. & Hinkin, T. R. (2003). The customer's role in the service encounter: The effects of control and fairness [Electronic version]. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 44(3), 26-36. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Hospitality Administration site: http://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/articles/448/