Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between customer mistreatment and employee retaliation. The moderating effect of employee psychological strain on the relationship between customer mistreatment and employee retaliation is also examined. Design/methodology/approach – A sample of 107 contact centre customer service representatives completed a survey. Moderated multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between customer mistreatment and psychological strain on employee retaliation. Findings – Customer mistreatment emerged as a significant predictor of employee retaliation against the customer (customer mistreatment: β =0.252, p <0.01), providing support for hypothesis 1. Psychological strain was found to significantly moderate the effects of customer mistreatment on employee retaliation against the customer, ( β =0.197, p <0.01) supporting hypothesis 2. Originality/value – The results provide a greater understanding of individuals’ responses to customer incivility. Previous research has demonstrated that uncivil customer behavior leads to emotional exhaustion and absences from work within the call centre industry. Our results suggest that call centre customer service employees may also engage in retaliatory behavior when they perceive that they have been treated unjustly by customers. The positive relationship between customer mistreatment and employee retaliation against customers was stronger when employees reported high (versus low) psychological strain.
International Journal of Workplace Health Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 21, 2013
Keywords: Call centres; Employees behaviour; Customer service management; Stress; Violence; Workplace wellness