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Contagious Effects of Customer Misbehavior in Access-Based Services

Social Sciences Conference May 11, 2016 Madrid

Conference series "Customer experience in the 21st century"

Información general

Venue: Fundación Ramón Areces Vitruvio, 5 28006 Madrid

Organized by:

Fundación Ramón Areces and IE Business School

  • Description
  • Programme

The global economy has experienced profound transformations in the last decade. One of the worst economic and financial crisis has left lasting effects on the way how markets work. The old receipts struggle to foster a much desired recovery. However, at the heart of the market we still find the final customers as key actors. An important part of the economic activity depends on their needs, their preferences and the way that companies design to satisfy them. If clients buy, companies grow and, as a consequence, the economy should grow. It is fair to say that customer experience and its management in the 21st century are profoundly different. So we need to develop new ways to understand the customer and serve it. What is the best way to deliver high value added services to the final clients? How can we prevent customer misbehavior in the sharing economy? How can we organize data on customers in order to understand them better? Why are we growing so little after the big recession?

These are some of the questions that our invited experts will try to answer in these series of conferences.

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 authors extend existing theory of customer misbehavior by studying its contagious effect. The investigation focuses on access-based services, defined as transactions in which multiple consumers successively gain temporal, short-term access to a good, while legal ownership remains with the service provider (e.g., car sharing, fashion rentals). Due to the nature of these services, they are especially prone to indirect customer misbehavior, which is directed at the accessed product and occurs in the absence of others.

 Two online experiments provide the first empirical evidence for a contagiousness of misbehavior and reveal that this effect is driven by customers' perceptions of the social norms among the customer group. Moreover, they indicate that greater strength of the accessed product's brand as well as lower anonymity of the accessed product's owner attenuate contagion. A field experiment shows that an increase in the communal identification among access-based service customers reverses the contagious effect, with customers more likely to remove signs of previous users' misbehavior. The results suggest that access-based service providers should address customer misbehavior by:

  • Investing in the products they offer access to
  • Establishing more personal relationships with customers, and, foremost
  • Increasing communal identification among customers

Wednesday, 11


Rosellina Ferraro
Robert H. Smith School of Business. University of Maryland.

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