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J Appl Behav Anal. 1988 Spring; 21(1): 65–71.
PMCID: PMC1286094

Task clarification, performance feedback, and social praise: Procedures for improving the customer service of bank tellers


Customer service for bank tellers was defined in terms of 11 verbal behavior categories. An audio-recording system was used to track the occurrence of behaviors in these categories for six retail banking tellers. Three behavior management interventions (task clarification, performance feedback, and social praise), applied in sequence, were designed to improve overall teller performance with regard to the behavioral categories targeted. Clarification was accomplished by providing clear delineation of the various target categories, with specific examples of the behaviors in each. Feedback entailed presentation of ongoing verbal and visual information regarding teller performance. Praise consisted of verbal recognition of teller performance by branch managers. Results showed that clarification effects emerged quickly, producing an overall increase in desired behaviors of 12% over baseline. Feedback and praise effects occurred more gradually, resulting in overall increases of 6% and 7%, respectively. A suspension of all procedures led to a decline in overall performance, whereas reinstatement of feedback and praise was again accompanied by performance improvement. These findings extend the generality of behavior management applications and help to distinguish between possible antecedent and consequent effects of performance feedback.

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