DOI: 10.1177/10946705231190872 ISSN: 1094-6705

A Lagged Experience Sampling Methodology Study on Spillover Effects of Customer Mistreatment

Fu Yang, Zihan Zhou, Xiaoyu Huang
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Information Systems

As a normative and ubiquitous nuisance in the service industry, customer mistreatment has received extensive attention for its profound impacts on front-line employees’ (FLEs) lagged reactions. Drawing upon the Conservation of Resources theory, our results of multilevel path analysis reveal that FLEs encountering daily customer mistreatment experience poor nightly sleep quality, which in turn drives them away from next-day customer-oriented prosocial behavior. These predictions are further contingent upon the levels of service rule commitment, defined as FLEs’ commitment to organizational service rules. In Study 2 and Study 3, we replicate the findings of Study 1 and expand the range of outcomes to cast FLEs’ turnover intention as another consequence triggered by customer mistreatment on the previous day. Furthermore, we incorporate optimal rule control and empathetic leadership into our analyses to propose the three-way interactions. The results unpack that the aggravating effect of high service rule commitment on the relationship between customer mistreatment and nightly sleep quality is buffered when rule control is optimal or when empathetic leadership is high. Taken together, our findings uncover the spillover-depleting effects of daily customer mistreatment and how the strength of such process is bound by personal and contextual factors.

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