Purpose: Applying social capital and the social exchange theories to customer-to-customer (C2C) interactions, this study aims to propose that interaction quality perceptions affect the customer-to-service provider’s interaction quality perceptions in a prolonged, close-proximity service setting. Examining this exogenous dimension, the study also tests socio-emotional support perception’s mediating effect and customer proactiveness’ moderating effect. Design/methodology/approach: This study adopts and modifies existing general services of C2C interaction dimensions to fit the health-care context. An in-person survey of 192 neurosurgery inpatients and their care-giving companions (both considered health-care customers) provides data to validate the dimensions and test the model. Structural equation modeling and moderated regression test the hypotheses. Findings: Results show that affirmative C2C interactions positively affect the customer’s perceived socio-emotional support, whereas negative C2C interactions show no significant impact. Greater socio-emotional support acuity improves customers’ assurance and empathy quality perceptions about the provider’s service. Customer proactiveness moderates C2C interaction dimensions. Research limitations/implications: This study extends the research of the C2C interaction to include their effect on service quality perceptions in a prolonged close-proximity service setting. Study results validate C2C interaction’s dimensions specific to an inpatient setting. Finally, this study extends the application of social capital theory and social exchange theory to C2C settings. Practical implications: Findings emphasize the importance of managing C2C interactions during prolonged, close-proximity service delivery processes to improve customer perceptions of service quality. Results suggest that managers should monitor customer proactiveness to maximize positive C2C interactions’ positive effects while minimizing negative C2C interactions. Originality/value: Prior service quality studies tend to focus on managing internal resources (staff, processes or physical environment); however, this study examines how the interactions among external resources create a halo effect and impact customers’ service quality perceptions. Results inform methods to improve their quality perceptions by better managing exogenous factors. The study also responds to calls for research on how C2C interactions affect functional service contexts (vs hedonic service contexts).
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