Purpose: This study aims to investigate and explain the influence of cultural differences on foreign customers' perceptions of the local service marketplace through their consumption experience. Design/methodology/approach: Exploratory research was conducted by conducting semi-structured interviews and using critical incidents technique to identify foreign customers' perception of each service. A purposive sampling method was used to collect 70 participants to recall their experience in the five most used services, including transportation, convenience stores, restaurants, healthcare, and banking. Findings: The results found 286 critical incidents in four main categories of the physical environment, employee behavior, value, and functionality. The participants were likely to mention positive arguments. The results also provide evidence that Western customers were more likely than their Asian counterparts to have a negative perception of local services. Research limitations/implications: The study combines all the participants' perceptions of all the most used services together for measurement; therefore, it may imply some various results for individual services. This paper has several limitations that need to be recognized in interpreting its findings. Practical implications: These results have cross-cultural implications, especially that foreign consumers really see services in a very simplistic manner. International service providers can take advantage of economies of scale and experience curve effects, while local service providers can also make efforts to attract foreign customers. Originality/value: The findings provide an initial step towards developing a comprehensive understanding of foreign consumers' perceptions of local services and make a theoretical contribution to the applicability of cross-cultural marketing.
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