Being told that “the customer is always right” can be maddening for an employee dealing with dysfunctional customers. Relationships between managers and employees can become strained and job satisfaction can drop as a result. How can managers work with their employees to help prevent this from happening? Taeshik Gong, Youjae Yi, and Jin Nam Choi discussed this in their article “Helping Employees Deal With Dysfunctional Customers: The Underlying Employee Perceived Justice Mechanism” in the February edition of Journal of Service Research.
While considerable research explores job stress interventions for employees dealing with legitimate customer complaint behavior, managerial interventions relating to illegitimate, unreasonably dysfunctional customer behavior have been largely overlooked. Drawing on justice theory and using survey and experimental data, this study investigates perceived justice as the underlying mechanism through which managerial interventions affect satisfaction and loyalty among employees exposed to dysfunctional customer behavior. In addition, this study explores the contingency factors that affect this relationship. The findings offer managerial insights into how to protect employees from detrimental consequences of highly negative interactions with dysfunctional customers. This research suggests that managers should continually reinforce employees’ perceptions of fairness through interventions such as social support, participation, empowerment, and reward. Results also indicate that managers particularly need to direct intervention efforts to employees who are exposed to frequent and seriously negative interactions with dysfunctional customers.