A qualitative and quantitative examination of the antecedents of customer incivility.J Occup Health Psychol. 2016 Apr; 21(2):208-19.JO
Customer incivility is known to have a negative impact on employees working in service jobs. Despite an understanding of the negative outcomes of customer incivility (e.g., burnout, disengagement, absenteeism), little research has investigated antecedents of this low-intensity deviant behavior. This is a clear oversight, given that understanding antecedents of customer incivility is essential for determining methods for reducing this stressor. As such, we conducted 2 studies examining these antecedents. For Study 1, we used a qualitative approach, assessing customer incivility from the perspective of the customer. Three overall themes (with 13 subthemes) emerged that could potentially lead to customer incivility: characteristics of the customer, characteristics of the organization/environment, and characteristics of the service employee. In Study 2, we conducted a quantitative study to investigate-from the perspective of the service employee-customer incivility antecedents that could be potentially controlled by the organization, either through changing the work environment or the employee (through training and selection). The results of a 2 time-point survey study showed that the service environment, service rep incivility, service orientation, agreeableness, and neuroticism served as antecedents to customer incivility. Practical implications are discussed, identifying options for organizational leaders interested in reducing customer incivility, and advice is provided for researchers seeking to further examine the antecedents of customer incivility.