When heroes and villains are victims: How different withdrawal strategies moderate the depleting effects of customer incivility on frontline employees

Yumeng Yue, Helena Nguyen, Markus Groth, Anya Johnson, Stephen Frenkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Interaction with customers represents the cornerstone for a service employee’s job content, and plays an important role in determining customer satisfaction. However, previous research has treated employee’s different episodes of service interactions as isolated from each other and ignored their interconnection. In this paper, we explore such interconnection by examining how interacting with misbehaving customers (i.e. customer mistreatment) can influence service employees’ subsequent interactions with other customers. More specifically, we view service interaction from a resource perspective and conduct two studies testing the spillover effect of customer mistreatment on employees’ subsequent service quality. In Study 1, we conducted an experiment whereby we manipulated the level of mistreatment. We found that customer mistreatment predicted lower service quality towards the next customer and that the effect was mediated by the loss of regulatory self-control capacity. In Study 2, we conducted a field study and examined the role of display rule commitment as a personal resource that acts as a substitute for lost self-control resources. We found that high display rule commitment acted as a buffer to the negative relationship between customer mistreatment and subsequent service quality. Together, our findings highlight how episodes of customer mistreatment can trigger subsequent declines in service delivery, thereby having implications for the development of service performance and well-being, and the role of different kinds of resources in buffering its associated effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalJournal of Service Research
VolumeN/A
Early online date27 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2020

Keywords

  • withdrawal
  • customer incivility
  • emotional exhaustion
  • experience-sampling method

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