Customer mistreatment is a daily experience of service employees, with a considerable accumulating adverse impact reflected in distress, reduced performance and withdrawal. This paper builds on research addressing the universality of customer aggression and the I3 model which is used to explain aggression, to describe how the combined impact of norms of perfectionism and intensified customer–employee power differentials engender prevalent customer aggression. It is suggested that constant violation of unrealistic expectations threatens customers’ inflated sense of worth. Additionally, because service employees are prevented from both the ‘fight’ and the ‘fight’ reactions to customer aggression, social exchange in the service context does not involve any sanctions for customers. It is recommended that, similar to sexual harassment and organisational bullying, customer aggression should be addressed through legislation requiring organisations to protect their employees.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2017 Westburn Publishers Ltd.
- Customer aggression
- customer expectations
- power differentials
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management