Advertisement

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 827–847 | Cite as

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

  • Arne K. Albrecht
  • Gianfranco WalshEmail author
  • Simon Brach
  • Dwayne D. Gremler
  • Erica van Herpen
Original Empirical Research

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors thank Kate Daunt and Thorsten Gruber for constructive comments on an earlier version of the paper.

References

  1. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Argo, J. J., Dahl, D. W., & Manchanda, R. V. (2005). The influence of a mere social presence in a retail context. Journal of Consumer Research, 32(2), 207–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armitage, C. J., & Conner, M. (2001). Efficacy of the theory of planned behaviour: a meta analytic review. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40(4), 471–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aubert-Gamet, V., & Cova, B. (1999). Servicescapes from modern non-places to postmodern common places. Journal of Business Research, 44(1), 37–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bagozzi, R. P., & Dholakia, U. M. (2006). Antecedents and purchase consequences of customer participation in small group brand communities. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 23(1), 45–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bagozzi, R. P., & Yi, Y. (2012). Specification, evaluation, and interpretation of structural equation models. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 40(1), 8–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barger, P. B., & Grandey, A. A. (2006). Service with a smile and encounter satisfaction: emotional contagion and appraisal mechanisms. Academy of Management Journal, 49(6), 1229–1238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bauer, D. J., & Curran, P. J. (2005). Probing interactions in fixed and multilevel regression: inferential and graphical techniques. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 40(3), 373–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bodimeade, H., Anderson, E., La Macchia, S., Smith, J. R., Terry, D. J., & Louis, W. R. (2014). Testing the direct, indirect, and interactive roles of referent group injunctive and descriptive norms for sun protection in relation to the theory of planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(11), 739–750.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Braunsberger, K., Buckler, R. B., & Ortinau, D. J. (2005). Categorizing cognitive responses: an empirical investigation of the cognitive intent congruency between independent raters and original subject raters. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 33(4), 620–632.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brocato, E. D., Voorhees, C. M., & Baker, J. (2012). Understanding the influence of cues from other customers in the service experience: a scale development and validation. Journal of Retailing, 88(3), 384–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brown, C. S., & Sulzer-Azaroff, B. (1994). An assessment of the relationship between customer satisfaction and service friendliness. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 14(2), 55–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  14. Cialdini, R. B., & Trost, M. R. (1998). Social influence: social norm, conformity, and compliance. In D. T. Gilbert, S. T. Fiske, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 151–192). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. Cialdini, R. B., Reno, R. R., & Kallgren, C. A. (1990). A focus theory of normative conduct: recycling the concept of norms to reduce littering in public places. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58(6), 1015–1026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Curtis, R. (2012). Cinema Ninjas’ to silence naughty film-goers. BBC. Retrieved 24 July 2015 from http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-19622445.
  17. Du, J., Fan, X., & Feng, T. (2014). Group emotional contagion and complaint intentions in group service failure: the role of group size and group familiarity. Journal of Service Research, 17(3), 326–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dudenhöffer, S., & Dormann, C. (2013). Customer-related social stressors and service providers’ affective reactions. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(4), 520–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Elsbach, K. D., & Bhattacharya, C. B. (2001). Defining who you are by what You’re not: organizational disidentification and the National Rifle Association. Organization Science, 12(4), 393–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attitude, intention and behavior: an introduction to theory and research reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  21. Fisk, R., Grove, S., Harris, L. C., Keeffe, D. A., Reynolds, K. L. D., Russell-Bennett, R., & Wirtz, J. (2010). Customers behaving badly: a state of the art review, research agenda and implications for practitioners. Journal of Services Marketing, 24(6), 417–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fugas, C. S., Melia, J. L., & Silva, S. A. (2011). The “is” and the “ought”: how do perceived social norms influence safety behaviors at work? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16(1), 67–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Garma, R., & Bove, L. L. (2011). Contributing to well-being: customer citizenship behaviors directed to service personnel. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 19(7), 633–649.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gino, F., Ayal, S., & Ariely, D. (2009). Contagion and differentiation in unethical behavior: the effect of one bad apple on the barrel. Psychological Science, 20(3), 393–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Göckeritz, S., Schultz, P. W., Rendon, T., Cialdini, R. B., Goldstein, N. J., & Griskevicius, V. (2010). Descriptive normative beliefs and conservation behavior: the moderating roles of personal involvement and injunctive normative beliefs. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(3), 514–523.Google Scholar
  26. Goldstein, N. J., Cialdini, R. B., & Griskevicius, V. (2008). A room with a viewpoint: using social norms to motivate environmental conservation in hotels. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(3), 472–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Grandey, A. A., Kern, J. H., & Frone, M. R. (2007). Verbal abuse from outsiders versus insiders: comparing frequency, impact on emotional exhaustion, and the role of emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 12(1), 63–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gross, G. (2015). Pantomimes against party noise in Berlin. Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 24 July 2015 from http://www.dw.de/pantomimes-against-party-noise-in-berlin/a-18444458.
  29. Hansen, D. E., & Danaher, P. J. (1999). Inconsistent performance during the service encounter: What's a good start worth? Journal of Service Research, 1(3), 227–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Harris, L. C., & Reynolds, K. L. (2003). The consequences of dysfunctional customer behavior. Journal of Service Research, 6(2), 144–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: a regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  32. Hennig-Thurau, T., Groth, M., Paul, M., & Gremler, D. D. (2006). Are all smiles created equal? How emotional contagion and emotional labor affect service relationships. Journal of Marketing, 70(3), 58–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hogg, M. (1987). Social identity and group cohesiveness. In J. C. Turner, M. A. Hogg, P. J. Oakes, S. D. Reicher, & M. S. Wetherell (Eds.), Rediscovering the social group. A self-categorization theory (pp. 89–116). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  34. Homburg, C., Grozdanovic, M., & Klarmann, M. (2007). Responsiveness to customers and competitors. The role of affective and cognitive organizational systems. Journal of Marketing, 71(3), 18–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hornsey, M. J., Majkut, L., Terry, D. J., & McKimmie, B. M. (2003). On being loud and proud: nonconformity and counter-conformity to group norms. British Journal of Social Psychology, 42(3), 319–335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Jacobson, R. P., Mortensen, C. R., & Cialdini, R. B. (2011). Bodies obliged and unbound: differentiated response tendencies for injunctive and descriptive social norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 433–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. James, L. R., Demaree, R. G., & Wolf, G. (1984). Estimating within-group interrater reliability with and without response bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69(1), 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jung, M. H., Perfecto, H., & Nelson, L. D. (2016). Anchoring in payment. Evaluating a judgmental heuristic in field experimental settings. Journal of Marketing Research, 53(3), 354–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jüttner, U., Schaffner, D., Windler, K., & Maklan, S. (2013). Customer service experiences. European Journal of Marketing, 47(5/6), 738–769.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kern, J. H., & Grandey, A. A. (2009). Customer incivility as a social stressor: the role of race and racial identity for service employees. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 14(1), 46–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lapinski, M. K., & Rimal, R. N. (2005). An explication of social norms. Communication Theory, 15(2), 127–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lewin, J. E. (2001). The effects of downsizing on organizational buying behavior. An empirical investigation. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 29(2), 151–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lynn, M., & Brewster, Z. W. (2015). Racial and ethnic differences in tipping: the role of perceived descriptive and injunctive tipping norms. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 56(1), 68–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Manning, M. (2009). The effects of subjective norms on behaviour in the theory of planned behaviour: a meta-analysis. British Journal of Social Psychology, 48(4), 649–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Martin, C. L., & Pranter, C. A. (1989). Compatibility management: customer-to-customer relationships in service environments. Journal of Services Marketing, 3(3), 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McFerran, B., Dahl, D. W., Fitzsimons, G. J., & Morales, A. C. (2010). I’ll have what She’s having: effects of social influence and body type on the food choices of others. Journal of Consumer Research, 36(6), 915–929.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McGarty, C., Turner, J. C., Oakes, P. J., & Haslam, S. A. (1993). The creation of uncertainty in the influence process: the roles of stimulus information and disagreement with similar others. European Journal of Social Psychology, 23(1), 17–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Melnyk, V., van Herpen, E., & van Trijp, H. (2010). The influence of social norms in consumer decision making: a meta-analysis. Advances in Consumer Research, 37, 463–465.Google Scholar
  49. Minton, A. P., & Rose, R. L. (1997). The effects of environmental concern on environmentally friendly consumer behavior an exploratory study. Journal of Business Research, 40(1), 37–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Neighbors, C., Larimer, M. E., & Lewis, M. A. (2004). Targeting misperceptions of descriptive drinking norms: efficacy of a computer-delivered personalized normative feedback intervention. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(3), 434–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Nguyen, H., Groth, M., Walsh, G., & Hennig-Thurau, T. (2014). The impact of service scripts on customer citizenship behavior and the moderating role of employee customer orientation. Psychology and Marketing, 31(12), 1096–1109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nolan, J. M., Schultz, P. W., Cialdini, R. B., Goldstein, N. J., & Griskevicius, V. (2008). Normative social influence is Underdetected. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 913–923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879–903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Porath, C., MacInnis, D., & Folkes, V. (2010). Witnessing incivility among employees effects on consumer anger and negative inferences about companies. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(2), 292–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Postmes, T., Haslam, S. A., & Jans, L. (2013). A single-item measure of social identification: reliability, validity, and utility. British Journal of Social Psychology, 52(4), 597–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Prinsen, S., de Ridder, D. T., & de Vet, E. (2013). Eating by example. Effects of Environmental Cues on Dietary Decisions. Appetite, 70, 1–5.Google Scholar
  57. Rafaeli, A., & Sutton, R. I. (1990). Busy stores and demanding customers: how do they affect the display of positive emotion? Academy of Management Journal, 33(3), 623–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Reno, R. R., Cialdini, R. B., & Kallgren, C. A. (1993). The transsituational influence of social norms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64(1), 104–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rimal, R. N. (2008). Modeling the relationship between descriptive norms and behaviors: a test and extension of the theory of normative social behavior (TNSB). Health Communication, 23(2), 103–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rimal, R. N., & Real, K. (2005). How behaviors are influenced by perceived norms: a test of the theory of normative social behavior. Communication Research, 32(3), 389–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Rivis, A., & Sheeran, P. (2003). Descriptive norms as an additional predictor in the theory of planned behaviour: a meta-analysis. Current Psychology: A Journal for Diverse Perspectives on Diverse Psychological Issues, 22(3), 218–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Salmon, S. J., De Vet, E., Adriaanse, M. A., Fennis, B. M., Veltkamp, M., & De Ridder, D. T. (2015). Social proof in the supermarket: promoting healthy choices under low self-control conditions. Food Quality and Preference, 45, 113–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schaefers, T., Wittkowski, K., Benoit, S., & Ferraro, R. (2015). Contagious effects of customer misbehavior in access-based services. Journal of Service Research, 19(1), 3–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schultz, P. W., Nolan, J. M., Cialdini, R. B., Goldstein, N. J., & Griskevicius, V. (2007). The constructive, destructive, and reconstructive power of social norms. Psychological Science, 18(5), 429–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schultz, P. W., Khazian, A. M., & Zaleski, A. C. (2008). Using normative social influence to promote conservation among hotel guests. Social Influence, 3(1), 4–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schwepker Jr., C. H., & Hartline, M. D. (2005). Managing the ethical climate of customer-contact service employees. Journal of Service Research, 7(4), 377–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. ScotRail (2004). First ScotRail to launch ‘Hands Off Our Staff’ assaults campaign. Retrieved 25 Mar 2015 from http://www.scotrail.co.uk/content/first-scotrail-launch-quothands-our-staffquot-assaults-campaign.
  68. Sliter, M., Jex, S., Wolford, K., & McInnerney, J. (2010). How rude! Emotional labor as a mediator between customer incivility and employee outcomes. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(4), 468–481.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Smith, J. R., Hogg, M. A., Martin, R., & Terry, D. J. (2007). Uncertainty and the influence of group norms in the attitude-behaviour relationship. British Journal of Social Psychology, 46(4), 769–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Spiller, S. A., Fitzsimons, G. J., Lynch, J. G., & McClelland, G. H. (2013). Spotlights, floodlights, and the magic number zero simple effects tests in moderated regression. Journal of Marketing Research, 50(2), 277–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Staunton, M., Louis, W. R., Smith, J. R., Terry, D. J., & McDonald, R. I. (2014). How negative descriptive norms for healthy eating undermine the effects of positive injunctive norms. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 44(4), 319–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Taylor, B. (2011). Hire for attitude, train for skill, Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 7 Sept 2016 from https://hbr.org/2011/02/hire-for-attitude-train-for-sk.
  73. Thøgersen, J. (2008). Social norms and cooperation in real-life social dilemmas. Journal of Economic Psychology, 29(4), 458–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tombs, A., & McColl-Kennedy, J. R. (2010). Social and spatial influence of customers on other customers in the social-Servicescape. Australasian Marketing Journal, 18(3), 120–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Tsai, W. C., & Huang, Y. M. (2002). Mechanisms linking employee affective delivery and customer behavioral intentions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(5), 1001–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Turner, J. C. (1987a). A self-categorization theory. In J. C. Turner, M. A. Hogg, P. J. Oakes, S. D. Reicher, & M. S. Wetherell (Eds.), Rediscovering the social group: a self-categorization theory (pp. 42–67). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  77. Turner, J. C. (1987b). The analysis of social influence. In J. C. Turner, M. A. Hogg, P. J. Oakes, S. D. Reicher, & M. S. Wetherell (Eds.), Rediscovering the social group: a self-categorization theory (pp. 68–88). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  78. Van Dolen, W., Lemmink, J., de Ruyter, K., & de Jong, A. (2002). Customer-sales employee encounters: a dyadic perspective. Journal of Retailing, 78(4), 265–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Vargo, S. L., & Lusch, R. F. (2008). Why ‘service’? Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36(1), 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Verhoef, P. C., Antonides, G., & De Hoog, A. N. (2004). Service encounters as a sequence of events: the importance of peak experiences. Journal of Service Research, 7(1), 53–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Walsh, G. (2011). Unfriendly customers as a social stressor – an indirect antecedent of service Employees' quitting intention. European Management Journal, 29(1), 67–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Walsh, G., & Beatty, S. E. (2007). Customer-based corporate reputation of a service firm scale development and validation. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 35(1), 127–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. White, K., & Dahl, D. W. (2006). To Be or not Be? The influence of dissociative reference groups on consumer preferences. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 16(4), 404–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. White, K., & Simpson, B. (2013). When do (and Don’t) normative appeals influence sustainable consumer behaviors? Journal of Marketing, 77(2), 78–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wooten, D. B., & Reed II, A. (1998). Informational influence and the ambiguity of product experience: order effects on the weighting of evidence. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 7(1), 79–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Yi, Y., & Gong, T. (2008). If employees ‘Go the extra mile,’ do customers reciprocate with similar behavior? Psychology and Marketing, 25(10), 961–986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Yi, Y., Gong, T., & Lee, H. (2013). The impact of other customers on customer citizenship behavior. Psychology and Marketing, 30(4), 341–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Zhao, X., Lynch Jr., J. G., & Chen, Q. (2010). Reconsidering baron and Kenny: myths and truths about mediation analysis. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(2), 197–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arne K. Albrecht
    • 1
  • Gianfranco Walsh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Simon Brach
    • 1
  • Dwayne D. Gremler
    • 2
  • Erica van Herpen
    • 3
  1. 1.Friedrich-Schiller University of JenaJenaGermany
  2. 2.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  3. 3.Wageningen UniversityWageningenNetherlands

Personalised recommendations