Is customer misbehavior contagious?

Is customer misbehavior contagious?

Summary of my research

This research investigates the question whether customer misbehavior is contagious and thus might spill over to other customers. This is relevant since customer misbehavior in service settings is problematic for two reasons: (1) because of the direct damage it causes and (2) because of additional negative effects that arise from the contagion of such misbehavior.

The research shows in three experiments in a access based service setting (car sharing) that misbehavior is contagiousness, but only in settings in which the actors do not identify with the community around them. Moreover, the results indicate that brand strength of the product and low anonymity of the accessed product’s owner attenuate contagion. The results suggest that access-based service providers should address customer misbehavior by (a) investing in the products they offer access to, (b) establishing more personal relationships with customers, and, foremost, (c) increasing communal identification among customers.

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