The influence of service employees and other customers on customer unfriendliness: a social norms perspective

Arne K. Albrecht, Gianfranco Walsh*, Simon Brach, Dwayne D. Gremler, Erica van Herpen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This research investigates the influence that social sources in the service environment exert on customer unfriendliness. Drawing on social norms theory, the authors demonstrate that descriptive norms (i.e., what most people are perceived to be doing in a certain situation), in the form of unfriendliness by service employees and fellow customers, predicts customers’ unfriendliness toward employees. Injunctive norms (i.e., beliefs about which behaviors are approved by important others) and identification with fellow customers exert moderating effects. Specifically, strong injunctive norms can buffer the effect of descriptive norms. Furthermore, fellow customers influence a customer’s unfriendliness only if he or she identifies either very strongly or very weakly with them. By clarifying the role of norms in service encounters, this study provides insights on when unfriendly customer behavior is likely to occur. Managerial implications for companies who want to diminish customer unfriendliness are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-847
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Volume45
Issue number6
Early online date25 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

Keywords

  • Customer to customer influence
  • Descriptive norm
  • Identification
  • Injunctive norm
  • Social influence
  • Unfriendliness

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