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Effects of Customer Entitlement on Service Workers' Physical and Psychological Well-Being: A Study of Waitstaff Employees



This exploratory study examines the nature of customer entitlement and its impact on front-line service employees. In an open-ended qualitative inquiry, 56 individuals with waitstaff experience described the types of behaviors entitled customers engage in and the kinds of service-related "perks" these individuals feel deserving of. Participants explained how they responded to entitled customers, how and when managers became involved, and how their dealings with these patrons influenced their subjective physical and psychological well-being. We found that the behaviors of entitled customers negatively impacted waitstaff employees. Participants reported physiological arousal, negative affect, burnout, and feelings of dehumanization as a result of dealing with these patrons. While respondents drew on a variety of strategies to manage their encounters with entitled customers, they indicated workplace support was often informal and described feeling abandoned by management in dealing with this workplace stressor. Approaching customer entitlement as a form of microaggression, we offer recommendations for practice and suggest new directions for future research.
Effects of Customer Entitlement on Service Workers’ Physical and
Psychological Well-Being: A Study of Waitstaff Employees
Glenda M. Fisk and Lukas B. Neville
Queen’s University
This exploratory study examines the nature of customer entitlement and its impact on front-line
service employees. In an open-ended qualitative inquiry, 56 individuals with waitstaff experience
described the types of behaviors entitled customers engage in and the kinds of service-related
“perks” these individuals feel deserving of. Participants explained how they responded to entitled
customers, how and when managers became involved, and how their dealings with these patrons
influenced their subjective physical and psychological well-being. We found that the behaviors of
entitled customers negatively impacted waitstaff employees. Participants reported physiological
arousal, negative affect, burnout, and feelings of dehumanization as a result of dealing with these
patrons. While respondents drew on a variety of strategies to manage their encounters with
entitled customers, they indicated workplace support was often informal and described feeling
abandoned by management in dealing with this workplace stressor. Approaching customer
entitlement as a form of microaggression, we offer recommendations for practice and suggest new
directions for future research.
Keywords: entitlement, aggression, stress, emotion regulation, service employees
Over the past several decades, the ethos of service
industries, including customer orientation (Brady &
Cronin, 2001) and a focus on service quality
(Zeithaml, Berry, & Parasuraman, 1996), has crept
into an expanding number of domains. Where acqui-
escent employees and high-touch customer service
were once the hallmark of exclusive retailers and
restaurants, these characteristics are now found and
expected in a wide range of industries and institu-
tions. Service slogans promoting the status of cus-
tomers and their wants are ubiquitous, and employees
are frequently encouraged to meet patrons’ demands,
regardless of their legitimacy. While organizations
may profit from establishing and enforcing customer-
centric service policies (e.g., when adhered to, such
guidelines may boost customer satisfaction and repa-
tronage), elevating customers’ status may serve to
fuel perceived entitlement, making it difficult for
employees to manage patrons’ service-related expec-
Entitlement attitudes, when based on an illegiti-
mate sense of personal superiority and inflated self-
worth, make people particularly prone to demanding
preferential rewards, special treatment, and extra
consideration (Lessard, Greenberger, Chen, & Far-
ruggia, in press). Although individuals are rightfully
entitled to (i.e., deserving of) outcomes that are pro-
portional to their inputs (Feather, 1999; Major,
1994), popular usage of the term “entitlement” tends
to emphasize those situations where expected out-
comes exceed contributions (cf. Boyd & Helms,
2005; Huseman, Hatfield, & Miles, 1987). Empirical
research on this excessive type of entitlement sug-
gests it has risen precipitously in the past decade
(Twenge, Konrath, Foster, Campbell & Bushman,
2008) and shapes behavior in a variety of environ-
ments. For instance, individuals high in entitlement
behave competitively, misappropriate resources more
often, are self-interested in romantic relationships,
and allocate themselves disproportionate levels and
types of rewards (Campbell, Bonacci, Shelton, Ex-
line, & Bushman, 2004). The expectation of special
treatment, absent any felt responsibility to earn such
treatment, is found in a range of contexts including
employee relations (Naumann, Minsky, & Sturman,
2002; Penney & Spector, 2002), student expectations
This article was published Online First June 20, 2011.
Glenda M. Fisk, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s Uni-
versity, Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Lukas B. Neville,
School of Business, Queen’s University.
We gratefully acknowledge financial support from the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Can-
ada, awarded to Glenda M. Fisk. The authors would also
like to thank Susan Brodt, Bill Cooper, Jacoba Lilius, Anna
Mattila, and Christopher Miners for their constructive feed-
back on earlier versions of this article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed
to Glenda M. Fisk, 317 Robert Sutherland Hall, Queen’s
University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6 Canada. E-mail:
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
2011, Vol. 16, No. 4, 391–405
© 2011 American Psychological Association
1076-8998/11/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0023802
of university instructors (Greenberger, Lessard,
Chen, & Farruggia, 2008), and customers’ expecta-
tions of frontline employees (Boyd & Helms, 2005).
While existing research provides a comprehensive
psychological profile of entitled individuals (i.e., how
they think and feel), it has not yet adequately exam-
ined the impact of entitlement on those who must
interact with these individuals, nor how targets re-
spond to entitled demands. The interpersonal conse-
quences of entitlement are particularly relevant for
those working on the front-lines of service organiza-
tions where employees are chronically exposed to
customer entitlement (e.g., Butori, 2010). Interest-
ingly, however, relatively little work has examined
the implications of customer entitlement for em-
ployee well-being. Thus, the current research ad-
dresses four overarching research questions. First, we
aim to gain some insight into the domain of entitled
customer behavior: How is entitlement expressed by
patrons in the service environment? What demands
do they make, and what actions do they take? Next,
we ask how service staff respond to these customers.
What tactics or practices are used to handle entitled
patrons and their demands? Third, we seek to better
understand the role and nature of organizational pol-
icies aimed at helping employees manage entitled
customers. How are front-line staff supported or con-
strained in their responses by organizational policies,
norms, and procedures? Finally, and most centrally,
we seek to understand how the experience of man-
aging entitled patrons influences service workers’
subjective well-being. Drawing on existing research,
we link entitlement to interpersonal aggression and
incorporate contemporary theories of work stress to
explain why service employees may find managing
customer entitlement to be a source of job-related
Consumer Entitlement and Aggression
The consumer entitlement construct describes
those customers who believe they deserve special
treatment but need not do anything to earn such
treatment (Boyd & Helms, 2005). Such beliefs are
driven by entitled individuals’ inflated sense of self-
worth and grandiose self-image which in turn, lead
them to make favorable self-serving attributions for
their actions (Campbell et al., 2004; Harvey & Mar-
tinko, 2009; Huseman et al., 1987). Together, these
tendencies promote idealized expectations about how
service encounters ought to unfold and the role cus-
tomers and employees should play in promoting a
smooth exchange relationship (Boyd & Helms,
2005). Overall, entitlement reduces an individual’s
propensity to engage in equitable social exchanges
(e.g., Huseman, Hatfiels, & Miles, 1985, 1987) and in
service environments, reshapes usual expectations
for reciprocity in the customer-employee relation-
When their elevated sense of self is not affirmed or
their inflated expectations are not met, entitled indi-
viduals often respond with contention and hostility
(Moeller, Crocker, & Bushman, 2009; Reidy, Zeich-
ner, Foster, & Martinez, 2008) and are quick to seek
vengeance (Exline et al., 2004). Aggressive behav-
iors (i.e., verbal or physical acts that violate social
norms and are intended to cause harm; Glomb &
Liao, 2003; Grandey, Dickter, & Sin, 2004) are en-
acted by entitled individuals in an effort to redress
what they view as inequity in the distribution of
valued outcomes or rewards (e.g., Baumeister, Smart,
& Boden, 1996; Penney & Spector, 2002). By exten-
sion, we expect that in the consumer context, behav-
ioral expressions of entitlement may encompass
active (e.g., verbal and physical assaults) or covert
(e.g., withholding positive emotions, sulking, feign-
ing victimhood) forms of aggression toward service
staff (Bitner, Booms, & Mohr, 1994; Lovelock, 1994;
Zemke & Anderson, 1990). Ultimately, entitled cus-
tomers may resemble what service marketers call
“jaycustomers”–patrons who act in thoughtless or
abusive ways and as a result, negatively influence the
experiences of others in the service environment
(Lovelock, 1994).
Consumer Entitlement, Aggression, and
Employee Strain
To the extent behavioral expressions of customer
entitlement are experienced by frontline service
workers as a form of aggression, employees should
report the same attendant psychosocial and physical
impacts (cf. Kaukiainen et al., 2001). Customer ag-
gression toward service employees often involves
verbal aggression (e.g., yelling, swearing; Barling et
al., 2009; Glomb, 2002; Richins, 1983). Verbal ag-
gression from customers is quite common in service
work— one study of call center employees estimated
such behavior occurs, on average, 10 times per day,
per employee (Grandey et al., 2004). Although vent-
ing negative emotions (e.g., anger, frustration) may
have a cathartic effect for customers (e.g., Bennett,
1997), the consequences of such behavior for em-
ployees is more pernicious. Interview data reveals
that in addition to impacting employee motivation
and morale, customer aggression can result in short
(e.g., mood) and long (e.g., posttraumatic stress) term
psychological trauma (Harris & Reynolds, 2003).
Across time, these experiences may contribute to
withdrawal. Indeed, the frequency and subjective ap-
praisal of customer aggression is predictive of em-
ployee absenteeism (Ben-Zur & Yagil, 2005) and
potentially, turnover.
The evidence presented above suggests it is likely
that waitstaff employees will experience entitled cus-
tomers’ demands as a source of chronic stress. Nev-
ertheless, we expect that characteristics of the work
environment will shape how service employees are
affected by these patrons. The demand-control-
support model of work stress (Karasek, 1979; also
Johnson & Hall, 1988) posits that employee health
will be adversely affected when the psychological
demands posed by work are high, decision latitude is
low, and social support is minimal (de Jonge &
Kompier, 1997). Many low-wage and low-skill front-
line service jobs fit these criteria. First, organizational
policies often require that service workers concede to
customer demands (e.g., “the customer is always
right”), a practice that may trigger employee percep-
tions of injustice and negative emotion, especially
when demands are considered objectively unde-
served (i.e., entitled). Display rules (i.e., norms re-
garding how and when emotions are to be expressed)
requiring employees to maintain a positive demeanor
in the face of felt negative emotions (especially fak-
ing or amplifying “service with a smile”) have been
shown to further deplete personal resources, hasten-
ing employee burnout (Grandey, 2000). Such inter-
personal demands, when coupled with the high de-
gree of routinization (e.g., Leidner, 1993) and low
levels of social support (e.g., Walsh & Deery, 2006)
found in many service jobs, may leave employees
feeling as though they have few constructive options
for managing strain.
Overall, the management of customer expectations
and dysfunctional customer relationships are key
sources of job stress and burnout for service employ-
ees (Dormann & Zapf, 2004). Given that “entitleds”
tend to respond aggressively when denied what they
believe to be their due (Campbell et al., 2004; Kon-
rath, Bushman, & Campbell, 2006; Reidy et al.,
2008), serving these individuals presents what may
be a particularly difficult challenge for front-line
workers. In this paper, an exploratory approach is
taken to better understand employees’ subjective ex-
periences with entitled patrons and to identify the
consequences associated with such encounters.
Participants and Procedure
Flyers advertising a “research study on customer
behaviors” were posted at various locations on the
campus of a midsized Canadian university. Fifty-nine
students with current or recent (within the past year)
waitstaff experience responded to the ad and were
financially remunerated ($10) to describe their en-
counters with entitled patrons. Three respondents
who worked in nonrestaurant service environments
were omitted from our analysis (N56). The ma-
jority of respondents were female (73%), consistent
with evidence that women tend to be overrepresented
in low-wage, front-line service work (Hochschild,
1983; Kim, 2000; Phillips & Phillips, 2000). Partic-
ipants ranged in age from 18 to 63 years (M23
years, SD 7.10), and 67% of participants were
White. Participants reported having an average of 3.4
years of waitstaff experience (range: 5 months to 18
years), and earned $179.00/week in tips (range: $0
to $900).
The majority (53%) of individuals indi-
cated working in casual independent family run res-
taurants, though there was variation in the types of
restaurants represented in this sample (e.g., fast food,
casual chain, fine dining, pub/bar).
Consistent with our exploratory aim, participants
were provided with an open-ended questionnaire,
allowing us to gather richly detailed descriptions of
their experiences. Respondents were asked to bring to
mind interactions with entitled patrons and to ensure
that we were eliciting incidents that corresponded to
our definition of the focal construct, we provided
participants with the following description of cus-
tomer entitlement:
Some customers believe they are better than others,
even when they are not. Sometimes, these customers
expect special treatment, and want service employees
to meet their demands without questioning or com-
Participants were subsequently asked to think of
three customers who fit the definition provided and
with those individuals in mind, to recall up to five
acts or behaviors that “showcased their feelings of
being special.” After identifying entitled acts and
expectations, participants were asked (1) how they
All dollar figures are reported in Canadian funds.
In the area where data were collected, the minimum
wage for waitstaff employees who serve liquor in licensed
establishments was $8.90/hour. Servers’ hourly wages do
not include tips, which are left to the customer’s discretion.
responded to the customer, (2) whether they contem-
plated or got revenge, and (3) how the restaurant’s
management reacted to the incident. Finally, we
asked participants to reflect on how they were af-
fected physically and psychologically by the encoun-
Coding of Participant Responses
Participant responses were coded by the authors
using inductive and deductive thematic analysis (i.e.,
a hybrid process; Fereday & Muir-Cochrane, 2006).
First, an initial examination of the data was under-
taken in which responses were classified according to
predetermined categories based on the extant cus-
tomer aggression research (e.g., emotion regulation,
burnout, etc.). After this initial pass, a second round
of coding helped to identify emergent themes not
well-captured by our theoretically derived a priori
categories. In the final phase, participants’ long-form
responses were broken into individual thought units
and subsequently coded into one of the categories/
themes named in previous stages. The 29 final themes
used in coding were comprised of 19 a priori themes,
and 10 emergent themes. Responses were analyzed
both at the thought-unit level, and at the respondent
level. That is, we considered both the degree to which
our themes were represented overall in our tran-
scripts, and the proportion of participants whose re-
sponses included those themes. At the thought-unit
level, we assessed the reliability of our coding using
Cohen’s kappa, a chance-corrected measure of inter-
rater agreement. We found very good levels of agree-
ment in our coding of the 532 total statements (Co-
hen’s ␬⫽.83, p.001, 95% CIs .79 to .86). Final
consensus was achieved on the discrepant items
through discussion between the coders. Coding cat-
egories and counts are presented in Table 1.
Entitled Customer Behavior
Servers reported interacting with an average of two
entitled customers per typical shift. According to
respondents, patrons’ entitlement manifested itself in
a number of ways. Commonly, participants related
experiences with customers who demanded free up-
grades, items that were not on the menu, unusual
discounts, larger portions than others and free drinks.
In one extreme case, a server described a patron who
bypassed the server entirely to “. . . casually help
himself” to food. Entitled patrons made unreasonable
demands related to the preparation of food, sending
meals back multiple times (or refusing them alto-
gether) often for trivial reasons. Customers’ entitled
demands were also directed at the servers them-
selves: Entitled patrons insisted on being seated and
served before others, wanted more of their server’s
time and attention, demanded that servers not as-
signed to their table also focus on them, and seated
themselves at reserved tables without asking. Some
customer demands bordered on the extreme: “They
expected me to babysit their child while they ate,”
described one server. “He demanded to be served by
a younger, female server,” related another.
Overall, the behaviors of entitled customers seem
to reinforce the notion that these individuals perceive
themselves as superior to others. Entitled customers
threw food and money, snapped their fingers, haggled
over the price of menu items, and refused to tip. Most
frequently, participants noted that entitled customers
were verbally aggressive, asking to speak with res-
taurant management or yelling and cursing at service
staff when they did not get their way (cf. Grandey et
al., 2004). Building on instrumental and relational
models of fairness (e.g., Cropanzano & Ambrose,
2001; Lind & Tyler, 1988), the variety of behaviors
recalled by servers suggest entitled customers feel
both economic and socioemotional rewards are their
due. Such a perspective is consistent with the notion
that entitled individuals are driven to get a better deal
than others across a variety of domains, a goal that
when achieved, serves to reinforce their inflated ego
needs (cf. Huseman et al., 1987).
Server Responses to Entitled Patrons
An examination of server accounts indicated that
interactions with entitled customers can take a heavy
toll on waitstaff; all but six participants reported
some degree of attitudinal or behavioral shift as a
result of their dealings with entitled patrons. Seven
primary categories emerged to describe these chang-
es: (1) emotion regulation, (2) concessions and extra
effort, (3) revenge and retaliation, (4) escalation and
support-seeking, (5) attempts to change or influence
the patron, (6) withdrawal, and (7) “protective” attri-
butional responses. We describe each of the catego-
ries below.
Emotion regulation. Emotion regulation re-
flects “the processes by which individuals influence
which emotions they have, when they have them, and
how they experience and express thoseemotions”
(Gross, 1998, p. 275). In service work, employees are
often required to be happy and friendly, even under
Table 1
The Nature and Consequences of Customer Entitlement: Categories and Themes
Category Theme Theme description
Number of respondents
mentioning theme once
or more
Total statements
Revenge and
No action No action in response to the entitled patron’s demands 25 (45%) 34 (6%)
Revenge cognitions Thoughts about retaliation or revenge 7 (13%) 8 (1.5%)
Passive retaliation Subtle, covert, passive or ‘work-to-rule’ responses to
entitled patrons
20 (36%) 43 (8%)
Active retaliation Overt, public responses (revenge, retaliation) to entitled
11 (20%) 18 (3.4%)
Protective attributional
Statements or (in)action framed in terms of concerns about
other patrons or the desire to provide equal service
12 (21%) 17 (3.2%)
Statements or (in)action framed in terms of enhancing or
defending self-worth
10 (18%) 13 (2.4%)
Rule adherence
Statements or (in)action framed in terms of adhering to
organizational rules or policies.
3 (5%) 3 (0.6%)
Emotion regulation Emotional labor Surface or deep acting, masking emotions, conforming to
display rules
36 (64%) 48 (9%)
Laughing at the situation, or finding humor in the situation
or the customer’s behavior.
6 (11%) 6 (1.1%)
Escalation and
Escalation Seeking assistance from, or deferring to, a supervisor or
30 (54%) 36 (6.7%)
Abandonment No organizational involvement, support, or policies;
employees are left to respond to entitled patrons on their
10 (18%) 13 (2.4%)
“The customer is always right” The server’s statements or (in)action are guided by an
explicit endorsement of a customer-centric, ‘customer is
always right’ ideology
6 (11%) 6 (1.1%)
Peer support
Solidarity, social support, advice, or encouragement from
peers, colleagues or other non-managerial sources.
9 (16%) 10 (1.9%)
Management support Solidarity, social support, advice, or encouragement from
managers or supervisors.
11 (20%) 12 (2.9%)
Concessions and extra
Concession Accepting or conceding to customer demands. 20 (36%) 27 (5%)
Extra effort
Providing additional effort or extra services beyond that
which is specifically requested.
13 (23%) 19 (3.5%)
Management concessions Concessions made to the customer directly by managers or
6 (11%) 7 (1.3%)
(table continues)
Table 1 (continued)
Category Theme Theme description
Number of respondents
mentioning theme once
or more
Total statements
Trying to educate, influence, or negotiate with customers
in order to change their demands.
15 (27%) 20 (3.7%)
Withdrawal Physical withdrawal Physically withdrawing from the patron and service
environment. (E.g., hiding, going on break, leaving the
7 (13%) 7 (1.3%)
Psychological withdrawal from
and negativity toward the
Detachment or distancing from the job, negative thoughts
toward the job, tuning out or not attending to work,
turnover cognitions.
5 (9%) 5 (0.9%)
Burnout Depersonalization/cynicism Treating customers and others like objects, detaching from
others, or treating others impersonally.
5 (9%) 8 (1.5%)
Diminished personal
Doubting one’s own abilities or capacities, feeling
worthless, incompetent or incapable
12 (21%) 16 (3%)
Emotional exhaustion Feeling spent, depleted, tired, or emotionally worn down
by the encounter; lacking emotional reserves.
14 (25%) 17 (3.2%)
Injustice Injustice
Thoughts about the unfairness, injustice, inequity of the
situation and/or the patron’s behavior.
7 (13%) 7 (1.3%)
Feeling dehumanized, objectified, diminished or treated as
an object.
9 (16%) 10 (1.9%)
Negative well-being Negative affect Negative emotions or mood. 34 (61%) 54 (10.1%)
Physiological arousal Stress and physiological responses including sweating,
flushing, increased heart rate, tension, anxiety or
increased temperature.
27 (48%) 43 (8%)
Physical ill health Somatic complaints and physical symptoms (aches, pains
or illness)
3 (5%) 3 (0.6%)
No physical effect
Server specifically states that they felt no physical ill
effects of the encounter.
12 (21%) 12 (2.2%)
Unclassified Off-topic, unrelated, or unclassifiable comments 14 (25%) 16 (3%)
emergent category/theme.
demanding job conditions. In situations where felt
and expressed emotions diverge, acting to reduce that
dissonance can be exhausting. Regulatory strategies
in which individuals manage only the expression of
emotion (e.g., response-focused regulation or surface
acting) have, in particular, been noted to predict
negative job attitudes and burnout (e.g., Brotheridge
& Grandey, 2002; Gross & Levenson, 1997).
In the current study, entitled patrons were fre-
quently described as behaving in interpersonally un-
just ways (respondents recalled feeling offended and
hurt by their excessive demands) and over half of our
participants (n36) reported trying to regulate their
own emotions in an effort to avoid showing custom-
ers how they actually felt. Regulation most often
involved surface acting such that servers managed
their outward displays to show positive emotions
while simultaneously masking or suppressing nega-
tive feelings (e.g., “faking a grin” or “masking irri-
tation”; Grandey, 2000; Hochschild, 1983). As one
server described it:
[It’s of] absolute importance not to allow them to get
you to ‘lose your cool.’ You need to remain calm and
act as though their behavior is not irritating you.
Other respondents described the importance of
maintaining a positive— even if false—fac¸ade during
interactions with customers:
[I] always try to maintain composure and smile it off,
the only difference is that the smile may be forced and
then the incident is discussed in the kitchen;
I probably had an obviously fake grin when I served
him for the rest of the night.
Less frequently, emotion regulation involved deep
acting, as servers struggled to modify their feelings
and change their cognitions about entitled patrons.
One individual, for example, described “thinkingof
a wonderful past customer,” while another tried to
recast such customers and the service situation in an
effort to genuinely feel role congruent emotions.
An emergent category of responses related to emo-
tion regulation was that of amusement and humor.
Six servers reported laughing about the customer
with other staff, while the others described general
feelings of amusement. As two respondents ex-
I tend to feel surprised . . . almost amused that someone
feels they can get away with being so manipulating;
I found it humorous that this person thought she was so
different than all the other customers.
Though the evidence for a stress-moderating effect
of humor is limited (Martin, 2001), it may be one tool
in an employee’s arsenal of coping strategies. Pogre-
bin and Poole (1988) describe the use of humor
among police officers, who also frequently manage
their emotions. They found that humor was used to
“. . . maintain [the officers’] composure and distance
themselves from . . . intense emotional reactions” (p.
199). In the context of the current study, we might
(similarly) interpret the laughter and amusement of
our participants to a form of emotion regulation.
Concessions and additional effort. In addition
to regulating their emotions, many servers conceded
to customer requests (n20), whereas others (n
13) exerted discretionary effort above and beyond
patrons’ demands. Trying harder, they described,
seemed an effective way to not only appease entitled
customers, but to also avoid subsequent outbursts or
aggression. Some of this discretionary effort was
self-preservational, but more than one server men-
tioned controlling entitled customers so as to not
disturb other patrons: “My service style would be to
respond sooner to the more demanding customers. I
do so to minimize complaints and disturbances to
other clients.”
Revenge and retaliation. When asked whether
they had ever tried to “get even” with entitled cus-
tomers, a significant portion (n25) of participants
specifically reported that they chose not to seek re-
taliation or revenge. When retribution was sought,
individuals either limited themselves to thinking
about revenge (n7), or confessed to what could be
classified as relatively mild forms of backlash (n
20), intended to disadvantage but not harm customers
(cf. Robinson & Bennett, 1995); for example, refill-
ing water less often or withholding customary cour-
tesies like friendly greetings. Even the more creative
forms of backlash described were relatively subtle:
“I’ve deliberately faked ignorance to their requests or
failed to mention any promotions currently ongoing,”
described one server. “I’ve also recommended less
popular items on the menu or the most caloric ones.”
Consistent with these relatively minor and passive
forms of retaliation, some servers described taking
what might be called a ‘work-to-rule’ approach—
while they complied with the basic requirements of
their job (e.g., served customers with courtesy and
respect), they indicated not going above and beyond
to provide service-related extras. “Appeasing this
type of person just seems to encourage them,” wrote
one server. “If they’re a normal customer, I do ev-
erything I can for them, but if they’re rude, then they
get minimal service.” However, in some cases, serv-
ers’ unwillingness to concede stemmed from egali-
tarian concerns about other patrons. For instance, one
server said she had to “. . . be nice and friendly as
usual because other guests will notice and may feel
underprivileged orunfairly treated.”
Although the majority of retributive acts were clas-
sified as relatively mild, 11 respondents did report
retaliating in an active or overt way against a cus-
tomer. Nevertheless, such action was typically re-
served as a response to what might be considered the
more extreme entitled demands (one individual, for
example, reported “throwing out” a patron who had
repeatedly demanded servers’ personal information).
Admissions of more active retaliation suggest that
despite occupational norms emphasizing that custom-
ers be treated with polite deference, waitstaff can be
pushed beyond a ‘tipping point,’ where the accumu-
lation of many low-level, relatively minor injustices
(e.g., entitled demands) eventually triggers aggres-
sion (Cortina, Magley, Williams, & Langhout, 2001).
Attempts to change customer behavior.
Rather than conceding or resisting, 15 servers en-
gaged in concerted attempts to influence, change,
educate, or negotiate with entitled patrons. These
servers listened to complaints, proposed compro-
mises, suggested alternatives, offered minor conces-
sions when faced with major demands, tried
reasoning, and gave explanations. One server de-
scribed “. . . tactfully directingtheir attention to
something else, [like] the menu, the specials.” Instead
of imposing social sanctions, these servers engaged
in a form of tacit negotiation with entitled patrons,
trying to redirect or reshape their behavior.
Escalation. The most frequent approach to deal-
ing with untenable customer demands was to involve
management (n30). However, this strategy was
often described as a roundabout way of conceding—
six participants described management’s role as ulti-
mately authorizing additional concessions and extras.
Management’s responses seemed to reflect an ideo-
logical view of the customer being ‘always right.’
Asked about company policy for dealing with enti-
tled patrons, one server replied: “Generally, give
them what they want. The customer’s always right,
even when they are not.” Another described their
restaurant as “sucking up” to such customers: “It
seems like the more demanding and rude you are, the
more things you get.” One participant was even pro-
vided by management with a list of products that
could be given for free or provided at a discount to
demanding patrons.
Overall, the role of management was described as
primarily involving concession to, and accommoda-
tion of, entitled patrons. One server described an
interesting balance struck between resistance and
concession by the management of the small family
restaurant where she worked: “My boss was always
on hand in the cafe´ and he wouldn’t let any of the
staff be spoken to like that, so he would step in and
talk to the customer” she related. However, talking to
the customer often meant concession: “He normally
gave the customer what they wanted,” she acknowl-
For some, management was described as being
uninvolved in even a limited way. Ten participants
responded that their organization had no policies for
dealing with entitled customers, and that the manage-
ment of these patrons fell entirely on the servers’
shoulders. “I feel abandoned by the managers,” one
server said. “Managers just tell us to suck it up”
another related. Management in these cases expected
servers to deal with customers on their own, and
often encouraged emotion regulation: “There’s no
strict policy,” wrote one participant. “Just to try and
be on your best behavior, not make mistakes, and be
more polite.” Another described being told to “just
smile and not let it get to us.”
Seeking support. While social support (i.e.,
demonstrating empathy and offering valuable ideas;
Bacharach, Bamberger, & Biron, 2010) can help
some to overcome difficult work challenges, only 11
participants (20%) in the current study perceived any
level of formal assistance from management. Mana-
gerial support, when provided, tended to be mobi-
lized only when patrons’ behaviors had crossed from
excessive demands into overt aggression, violence, or
sexual hostility:
We are supposed to tell managers but even they don’t
want their time wasted . . . unless, of course, someone
touches you. Someone grabbed a girl’s leg once and in
situations like that the managers help right away! But
for rude and demanding customers, you just have to
figure it out for yourself.
Rather than rely on managers, some servers (n
9) indicated turning to coworkers for informal social
support, often occurring off the service ‘stage.’ One
described the solidarity provided by peers:
All staff members complain to their peers after work.
That’s when the stories come out. It’s very informal
group therapy. Talking and complaining with other
staff helps. Never managers.
Withdrawal: Physical and psychological. Re-
moving oneself from unpleasant work environ-
ments—whether on a temporary or permanent ba-
sis—is a well documented response to work stress
(see Dwyer & Ganster, 1991). In the current study,
seven participants mentioned taking a break or oth-
erwise physically distancing themselves from the en-
titled patron. “I tried to go and wash my face,” one
recounted; “I went and got a drink of water before
returning to my duties,” explained another. Even
when servers did not physically exit, we found
themes of negativity and psychological withdrawal,
as indicated by “tuning out” or not attending to work,
pessimism, and general detachment from the job (n
5). “I dread serving [entitled patrons],” one admitted,
“and I dread going to work.” Although some partic-
ipants described feeling dissatisfied and “trapped” in
their jobs, it should be noted that these behaviors and
cognitions were expressed by a minority of partici-
pants. The relative rarity of server negativity and
withdrawal is striking, given the ubiquity of emo-
tional labor, concession, and extra effort exhibited by
these servers.
Protective attributional responses. In some
cases, we found that servers engaged in a variety of
attributional exercises aimed at justifying their
inactions. Statements in this emergent set of cate-
gories included expressions of concerns for other
patrons (n12): “I wouldn’t change . . . I treat all
customers the same.” A small number (n3) cast
their resistance in terms of adherence to organiza-
tional rules: “I would not break the restaurant’s pol-
icies by allowing the customer to get something we
cannot or should not provide” one participant replied.
Finally, some servers described their response to
entitled customers in terms that enhanced or de-
fended their self-worth (n10). For instance, when
asked whether they ever got even with entitled pa-
trons, one server responded:
No. [I] felt it was childish, and [I] am unwilling to
make such actions which reflect on my character, per-
sonality, and reputation.
Effects of Entitled Patrons on
Server Well-Being
In addition to influencing the way in which servers
behaved toward customers, dealing with entitled pa-
trons exerted significant physical and psychological
effects. Stories suggestive of burnout, injustice, and
ill-health were consistently recounted by participants,
as described in more detail below.
Burnout. Masking frustration and trying to ap-
pear warm and friendly can be emotionally taxing for
employees. Long-term emotion regulation may ulti-
mately contribute to employee burnout, a syndrome
characterized by exhaustion, cynicism, and lack of
confidence (Maslach, 2003). Burnout is a common
problem for service workers and there was ample
evidence of this condition among participants in our
study. A considerable number of individuals reported
experiencing at least one of the components of burn-
out. Fourteen people described feeling “emotionally
drained,” weary, tired, and devoid of energy as a
result of their encounters with entitled customers.
One participant described her breaking point: “when
they finally left, I cried and needed a break in the
back room to compose myself.” Such experiences
created considerable distress for employees, both im-
mediately and in the longer term. One server de-
scribed the enduring impact of dealing with entitled
customers: “I usually remember them, even after my
shift, and it ruins my day because I can’t stop think-
ing about how unnecessarily rude and disrespectful
they were.”
In total, 12 servers reported feelings of inefficacy
or diminished personal accomplishment. These par-
ticipants reported feeling helpless, flustered, disorga-
nized, and incompetent in the wake of their encoun-
ters with entitled customers. Servers described
feeling like “a failure” and as being “undeserving”—
they doubted their own abilities and relayed a lack of
confidence. In one case, a server came to blame
herself for elements of the encounter outside of her
control: “I felt like I failed a bit personally,” she
wrote, “and felt bad not just for my service, but for
the food as well.” In many cases, negative feelings
associated with burnout overrode a sense of accom-
plishment from other sources, including previous
positive work experience (“She made me feel very
incompetent,” wrote one server, “like I didn’t know
how to do my job despite having worked there for
three years”) and interactions with others (another
server reported feeling “undeserving, even if I’ve
done well at all my other tables”). Among our par-
ticipants, the effect of interacting with an entitled
patron seemed to swamp other sources of self-
When faced with a stressor like serving challeng-
ing customers, cynicism can be self-protective, pro-
viding an “emotional buffer of detached concern”
(Maslach, 2006, p. 38). Therefore, we were surprised
to find that only five servers described what could be
classified as examples of cynicism, the dimension of
burnout characterized by negativity, callousness, or
detachment from the job (Maslach, Schaufeli, &
Leiter, 2001). This small group of participants re-
ported expectations of rudeness and general disillu-
sionment about people. “At first, I was bothered by
these kinds of people,” one server wrote, “. . . now I
usually expect it, and it bothers me less.” However,
only one server hinted at providing impersonal treat-
ment. According to this individual, maintaining pro-
fessional boundaries when serving entitled customers
is paramount, as treating entitled customers as “val-
ued people” (i.e., showing familiarity by being more
casual with them) “sets them off.” Familiar treatment
would presumably mitigate status differences, anger-
ing entitled customers who perceive themselves to be
better than others— especially “low status” others
(Campbell et al., 2004). Despite the comments of this
one respondent, many servers (as described earlier)
exerted additional effort, a higher standard of care,
and greater friendliness and warmth toward exces-
sively demanding customers.
Injustice and dehumanization. Waitstaff work
is highly stigmatized, suffering from what some have
called a “servitude perception”—a stereotype that
may encourage customers’ dehumanization of ser-
vice employees (Wildes, 2005). Dehumanization oc-
curs when one person represents another as an object
rather than unique individual (Haslam, 2006, p. 252),
and is often a consequence of felt injustice (Bell &
Khoury, 2010). Seven individuals expressed thoughts
about the unfairness, injustice, or inequity of the
patron’s demands and behavior while nine described
feeling objectified, diminished, or treated as an ob-
ject. For instance, participants described feeling
small, little, or “shrinking” in response to their en-
counters with entitled customers. In short, these serv-
ers felt demeaned, degraded, disrespected and infe-
rior. “He made me feel useless and like he was better
and more important than I was,” one server reported.
Others felt denigrated “. . . like I was a slave,” “. . . a
maid,” or “. . . a toy.” Ultimately, these servers de-
scribed feeling objectified and treated as an instru-
ment used primarily for fulfilling the patron’s needs.
Negative well-being. Chronic exposure to work
stress has been reliably linked to physical (e.g.,
chronic heart disease) and mental (e.g., depression,
anxiety) illness (see Ganster & Murphy, 2000). Con-
sistent with a demands-control framework, objec-
tively high job demands, coupled with low employee
control, has been linked to heightened blood pressure
and cortisol production, physiological responses that
can remain elevated even when one is off-the-job
(Fox, Dwyer, & Ganster, 1993). In the current study,
only three participants reported experiencing physi-
cal ill-health as a result of their interaction with an
entitled patron (e.g., muscle tension, aching neck and
shoulders, headache, shortness of breath, and stom-
ach cramps).
A majority of participants did, however, specifi-
cally report experiencing some form of negative af-
fect, emotional arousal, or physiological strain. High-
arousal negative emotions like anger, annoyance, and
irritation were particularly common (n34). The
additional demands made by entitled customers (of-
ten coupled with discretionary extra effort, as de-
scribed earlier) led servers to feel anxious, panicked,
nervous, and “high-strung.” Servers reported symp-
toms of emotion-related physiological arousal (n
27), including turning red, sweating, feeling jittery,
shaky and tense, and elevated blood pressure. These
results suggest customer entitlement may be a
chronic source of physiological arousal and strain, as
well as psychological negative well-being.
The primary goal of this exploratory research was
to examine the construct of customer entitlement and
document its effects on front-line restaurant employ-
ees (i.e., waitstaff). Further, we sought to gain some
understanding of how these employees manage their
interactions with entitled customers, and whether em-
ployee efforts were supported by the presence of
formal organizational policies. Entitlement has been
linked to hostile behavior and therefore, it is perhaps
not surprising that when expressed by customers in
service settings, entitlement was described as encom-
passing a range of interpersonally aggressive acts. In
accordance with research on customer aggression
more generally, we found evidence that serving en-
titled customers is stressful and associated with a
variety of negative employee outcomes including
physiological strain and burnout. Looking across
servers’ responses, we suggest the effects of dealing
with entitled patrons can be understood by applying a
demand-control-support model of work stress. Re-
sponses draw attention to a need for organizations to
provide support to employees who manage excessive
customer demands.
Entitlement as a Source of Job-Related
Stress and Burnout
Previous research indicates a correspondence be-
tween entitlement and aggression (Baumeister, Bush-
man, & Campbell, 2000; Reidy et al., 2008), and that
aggression is precipitated by a target rejecting an
entitled person’s demands (Twenge & Campbell,
2003). In service settings, perceived entitlement can
lead some customers to believe they have a right to
expect “more” and that they do not have to behave in
a civil manner during service consumption (Fisk et
al., 2010). Findings from the current study corrobo-
rate past claims—the demands made by entitled cus-
tomers of front-line waitstaff employees were com-
monly paired with acts of interpersonal aggression,
behavior that left participants feeling dehumanized
and subservient.
Even when not overtly aggressive, our findings
indicate the demands made by entitled customers can
take an exhaustive toll on employees. Sixty-four per-
cent of participants regulated their emotions at some
point during their encounters with entitled customers.
Of those individuals, all reported experiencing some
type of negative emotional or cognitive reaction. In
terms of physical consequences, a significant propor-
tion of those servers also reported physiological
arousal, exhaustion, or ill-health. These findings
build upon—and corroborate— existing quantitative
research (e.g., Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Rich-
ards & Gross, 1999).
The lopsided nature of the customer-employee
exchange relationship— especially when that rela-
tionship involves entitled patrons—may also help to
explain why servers felt like nonentities. The failure
of the patron to reciprocate the “favor” of special
treatment should lead servers to withdraw from the
relationship, engage in negative reciprocity, or pro-
vide fewer inputs into the exchange (Cook & Rice,
2006). Ultimately, feeling unable to restore balance
in an inequitable exchange relationship because of
dependence (e.g., being reliant on tips) or powerless-
ness (e.g., being required by management diktat to
concede to customer demands) can exacerbate stress
and create a sense of being treated as an instrument
for fulfilling patrons’ wants (e.g., Grandey & Fisk,
The Social Support Gap
A growing body of evidence suggests that cus-
tomer entitlement is becoming commonplace and
therefore, it would seem imperative that organiza-
tions recognize that exposure to entitled attitudes can
negatively impact the health and well-being of their
employees. Our participants described being left to
deal with entitled guests at their own discretion and
indicated that help—when offered—was typically in-
formal and provided after the fact. Extrapolating
from servers’ experiences, we suggest that providing
support to employees who interact with entitled cus-
tomers may provide a first-line of defense against the
stress-related toll encounters with these customers
can take. Extant research suggests that even the per-
ception of support can help to fulfill employees’
socioemotional needs, ultimately enhancing perfor-
mance and reducing turnover (Armeli et al., 1998;
Eisenberger et al., 2002). Indeed, there is consider-
able evidence that social support has an attenuating
effect on workplace stressors, both in the case of
aggression (Schat & Kelloway, 2003) and injustice
(Ferrie et al., 2006). Social support from manage-
ment, in particular, may be critical in keeping em-
ployees from feeling that their strain is somehow
indicative of incompetence.
One way in which management could support their
front-line staff is by giving employees the authority
to engage in a select repertoire of behaviors (e.g.,
offer a complimentary meal, distribute coupons).
Such practice may provide employees with a sense of
greater control, indirectly reducing the negative im-
pact entitled customers have on service providers.
The Ritz-Carleton, for example, permits hotel em-
ployees to spend up to $2,000 dollars a day per guest
to resolve service-related problems, a policy that
conveys trust and allows for greater discretion in
work roles (Schwartz, 2010). Existing research indi-
cates that empowering employees to manage stressful
situations triggers effective problem-solving, reduces
perceived threat, and boosts self-efficacy (e.g.,
Grandey et al., 2004; Spreitzer, 1995). Power be-
stowed by the organization provides service employ-
ees with a sense of “organizational backup” and
consequently, the confidence to defend their dignity
in the face of customer aggression (Ben-Zur & Yagil,
2005, p. 85).
Moving beyond managerial assistance, servers
indicated that peers were perhaps the most critical
source of work-related support. Additional work is
needed to uncover the specific strategies that com-
prise coworker support, particularly those in which
colleagues intervene to actively structure encoun-
ters with entitled customers (e.g., not seating cus-
tomers in the section of a server who has men-
tioned having a stressful shift, voluntarily helping
to serve a particularly difficult patron). The job
crafting literature maintains that even in highly
routinized and low-autonomy jobs, people can act
(alone or with others) to modify how they think
about and engage in work, positively shaping their
self- and work identities (Wrzesniewski & Dutton,
Finally, the current research suggests customer
entitlement can yield comments or conduct that “is
known or ought reasonably to be known to be un-
welcome” and therefore, in some jurisdictions, meets
definitions of workplace harassment (Occupational
Health and Safety Act [OHSA], 2010). At a macro
level, organizations would be well-served to consider
customer entitlement when designing workplace ha-
rassment policies and programs, providing mecha-
nisms for reporting and addressing entitled demands
in a way that both deters customer aggression and
buffers the impact of entitled claims on employees.
Conflict management training for instance, may teach
employees to cope effectively regardless of resolu-
tion, helping them live with conflict while being
immersed in it (Warehime, 1980).
Entitlement as a Vicious Cycle
In the current study, waitstaff employees reported
a range of coping strategies used to deal with entitled
customers. Many dealt with negative feelings toward
entitled customers by managing their own emotions,
particularly through response-focused regulation
(i.e., surface acting). While some servers minimized
their service-related efforts, such actions were often
somewhat trivial (like the server who reported choos-
ing to be “courteous” instead of “friendly”). In many
cases, servers actually exerted additional effort, a
higher standard of care, and greater friendliness and
warmth toward these excessively demanding custom-
ers. While these approaches may intuitively seem like
a way of coping with entitled customers (and avoid-
ing the aggressive responses associated with denied
requests), they may ultimately contribute to burnout
and ill-health. Indeed, in some situations, the coping
mechanisms adopted by servers seemed to exacerbate
their stress and strain, perhaps even reinforcing and
escalating customer entitlement (cf. Fisk, 2010).
Finally, participants’ experiences suggest that a
customer is always right philosophy continues to
loom large in the service industry. Many respondents
reported that their organizations frequently—if not
always— conceded to customer demands. Servers
and managers alike responded to entitlement with
concessions, additional resources, extra effort and
emotion regulation aimed at meeting the entitled pa-
tron’s needs. It is possible that such efforts may feed
into customers’ excessive sense of deservingness—
and perhaps even engender inflated expectations in
others who observe the favorable treatment received
by these individuals. Ultimately, conceding to cus-
tomer demands is a risky service strategy as the
“infinite variety of customer wants and needs can
quickly turn abusiness into an incoherent mess . . .”
(Stewart, 2010). However, whether customer entitle-
ment can be constrained by organizational policies
remains to be seen; in a highly competitive industry,
entitled customers may simply vote with their feet
and take their patronage to organizations that do not
resist their demands.
Limitations and Future Directions
The current study provides an exploratory glimpse
into what customer entitlement looks like in the field
and its effects on front-line employees in a single
context. If we are correct that entitlement is a source
of injustice as well as aggression, the negative con-
sequences on well-being are likely to hold across a
range of settings where front-line employees must
manage excessive demands stemming from customer
entitlement. Future research should consider the ex-
periences of individuals working in a wider variety of
service environments (e.g., where employees have
higher status, more autonomy, and are not dependent
on tips).
This study was concerned exclusively with the
subjective experience of restaurant waitstaff: How
they perceived their interactions with entitled pa-
trons, and how they felt they were affected. As such,
we feel the self-report strategy employed here is
appropriate and in line with calls for more research
focusing on understanding the phenomenological ex-
periences of workers (Weiss & Rupp, 2011). Al-
though our qualitative design allowed participants to
describe their experiences in their own words, we are
nevertheless unable to fully account for the various
biases associated with retrospection and self-
perception. Perhaps most obvious is the fact that the
study relies on employees’ judgments of what cus-
tomer entitlement in the restaurant context is comprised
of. Moreover, servers experienced multiple entitlement
events during each shift and therefore, many seemingly
benign acts may have been forgotten, leaving the more
extreme incidents to be recalled. A final issue is that
servers’ accounts cannot conclusively establish the re-
lationship between, nor the causal order of the variables
described. Are the effects felt by servers, for instance,
due to patrons’ demands, the servers own responses, or
some interaction between them? Additional empirical
work—particularly multisource, large-scale research—
would serve to extend and compliment our findings.
We asked participants to focus on their feelings
and perceptions as experienced in the immediate
wake of an interaction with an entitled patron. These
responses may have been quite different if we had
been able to trace reactions over time. For example,
there were some respondents who denied being phys-
ically affected by their interactions with entitled pa-
trons. Although this finding may signal that there are
factors (whether dispositional or situational) that can
attenuate the toll taken by dealing with entitled cus-
tomers, a less optimistic interpretation is that the
impact is not immediate nor acute, but rather, chronic
and cumulative. Given that exposure to entitled cus-
tomers is a regular and recurring feature of service
work, further research is warranted regarding the
long-term consequences of customer entitlement on
service employees.
A final issue pertains to the fact that we chose to
focus on a particular type of customer entitlement—
excessive or narcissistic entitlement. Previous re-
search indicates that entitlement can be “excessive,”
“normal,” or “depressed” (e.g., Feather, 1999; Fisk,
2010; Nauman et al., 2002). Future research should
consider the effects associated with assisting custom-
ers who have different entitlement profiles. Service
encounters are exchange relationships and therefore,
customers are entitled to receive certain goods and
services in return for payment, civil behavior, and so
forth. Some might argue that excessive customer
entitlement and its’ manifestations are an outcome,
not antecedent, of poor-quality customer service.
Therefore, more work is needed to test the dynamic
relationship between customer attitudes and service
Contemporary service organizations face a unique
challenge in that the upper-boundary of what custom-
ers can expect from front-line employees is continu-
ally being redefined. Complicating matters further,
features of the service context (e.g., relatively low
power of front-line employees, customer investment
of financial resources into exchanges) make entitle-
ment particularly likely to flourish. Many organiza-
tions fear the consequences of not meeting customer
expectations (e.g., complaints, loss of business) and
as such, there is very little to deter customers from
demanding more. Nevertheless, conceding to cus-
tomer demands does not come without cost. The
current research indicates serving entitled patrons
exerts negative effects on employee health and well-
being, suggesting organizations play a more active
role in helping their workers manage this construct.
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Received November 3, 2010
Revision received March 25, 2011
Accepted March 28, 2011 y
... However, in the customer service context, OCB-Cs are not always appreciated, especially as customers increasingly feel entitled to extraordinary service at a minimum (Fisk & Neville, 2011). Some employees may have learned from experience to expect a lack of appreciation from customers for their extra efforts; we expected these employees to be especially likely to withhold OCB-Cs in response to diminished self-verification. ...
... Thus, the prosocial outcomes of low self-verification are less applicable to the customer-employee context. Moreover, OCB-Cs are less likely to elicit appreciation as customers increasingly feel entitled to these extra services as a default (Fisk & Neville, 2011). Hence, employees are likely to disengage from OCB-Cs which may not elicit much appreciation. ...
Full-text available
Customer mistreatment events play a major role in employees’ subsequent customer service behaviors. We extend this line of research by developing a self‐verification account of the relationship between customer mistreatment and customer‐directed OCBs (OCB‐Cs) by examining theoretically prescribed novel mechanisms (i.e., self‐verification) and boundary conditions (i.e., self‐esteem, entity customer appreciation) for this relationship. We conducted a programmatic series of studies using daily diary (Study 1), audio vignette (Study 2), and behavioral experiment (Study 3) designs to test the proposed model. The overall pattern of results showed that customer mistreatment led employees to feel less self‐verified, especially among those with higher trait self‐esteem. These employees in turn were more likely to withhold OCB‐Cs, especially among those perceiving lower levels of entity customer appreciation. Overall, these results extend our understanding of the role of the self‐concept in how employees experience and react to customer mistreatment.
... Although prior research found that the power imbalance promotes customer aggression toward service employees (e.g. Fisk & Neville, 2011), it has rarely examined factors affecting customers' perceptions of the power imbalance. In addition, although previous research found antecedents of customer aggression directly linked to service contexts such as characteristics of customers and employees, and environmental factors (e.g. ...
... In addition, prior research on customer aggression found various antecedents such as perceived service quality, power differentials, job-related characteristics, and physical conditions (for review, Yagil, 2021). Previous studies also provided converging evidence that power imbalance induces customers' beliefs that they deserve special treatment, and customers reveal hostility and retaliation when their inflated expectations are not met (Fisk & Neville, 2011). However, to the best of our knowledge, prior research rarely examined which factors affect perceptions of the power gap and thus influence customer behavior. ...
The current research proposed boundary conditions for the inhibiting effect of perspective-taking on customer aggression toward service employees. In Study 1, we recruited participants (N = 241) from Prolific and conducted an online survey. The results showed that the inhibiting role of perspective-taking appeared among people with low perceived economic mobility (PEM) but disappeared among those with high PEM. In Study 2, we recruited people (N = 241) from MTurk and tested whether self-other referent priming influences the aforementioned effect by conducting an online experiment randomly assigning participants to either a self- or other-referent priming condition. The results revealed that perspective-taking inhibited customer aggression more among people with low (vs. high) PEM in the self-referent priming condition, but in the other-referent priming condition, the inhibiting effect appeared more among people with high (vs. low) PEM. The current research provides practical implications to help service firms to inhibit customer aggression.
... By questioning the philosophy of customer sovereignty and identifying the configurations of dark triad traits, firms' power, and demographics, firms can predict customers' misbehavior and, especially, know how to act to reduce it. In line with previous studies (Fisk and Neville, 2011), firms can diminish customers' dark triad traits by designing service rules, policies, and programs to alleviate their misbehavior. First, as a proactive strategy, they should explicitly make customers aware of instances of unwelcome behaviors (Habel et al., 2017). ...
Full-text available
This study uncovers the impact of combined dark triad personality traits, firm's power, and customer demographic characteristics. It uses a sample of 263 restaurant customers. The findings include customer configurations indicating misbehavior and non-misbehavior cases. From a theoretical perspective, the study questions the philosophy of customer sovereignty and applies asymmetric case-based modeling to identify configurations indicating misbehavior customers and non-misbehavior customers. Strategy implications: from a managerial perspective and to tackle misbehavior, firms should use coercive power (e.g., suing customers who misbehave), reward power (e.g., recognition and flattery when customers behave properly), and referent power (e.g., enforcing customers' affective attachment).
... By questioning the philosophy of customer sovereignty and identifying the configurations of dark triad traits, firms' power, and demographics, firms can predict customers' misbehavior and, especially, know how to act to reduce it. In line with previous studies (Fisk and Neville, 2011), firms can diminish customers' dark triad traits by designing service rules, policies, and programs to alleviate their misbehavior. First, as a proactive strategy, they should explicitly make customers aware of instances of unwelcome behaviors (Habel et al., 2017). ...
Full-text available
This study uncovers the impact of combined dark triad personality traits, firm's power, and customer demographic characteristics. It uses a sample of 263 restaurant customers. The findings include customer configurations indicating misbehavior and non-misbehavior cases. From a theoretical perspective, the study questions the philosophy of customer sovereignty and applies asymmetric case-based modeling to identify configurations indicating misbehavior customers and non-misbehavior customers. Strategy implications: from a managerial perspective and to tackle misbehavior, firms should use coercive power (e.g., suing customers who misbehave), reward power (e.g., recognition and flattery when customers behave properly), and referent power (e.g., enforcing customers' affective attachment).
... We extend the concept of entitlement to the context of the buyer-seller relationship and introduce willingness to boycott as an important outcome of entitlement. These findings also enrich the research streams on the negative effects of customer entitlement (Fisk & Neville, 2011;Xia & Kukar-Kin-ney, 2013;Wetzel et al., 2014). ...
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The consumer entitlement (CE) construct is a key variable in the exchange process in retail environments. The original Consumer Entitlement Inventory (CEI) was developed and applied within Western cultural boundaries. The main contribution of this study is the extension of the original CEI to better fit the Vietnamese context and to demonstrate its applicability in the context of an emerging economy with a Confucian culture. The study also contributes to expanding the range of identified boycott motives in the literature and clarifying their mechanism via social exchange theory. The extended CEI scale was tested using exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis, using a sample of 603 respondents. Qualitative and quantitative research results show that the extended CEI has two dimensions, namely intransigence, and demand and distinction, with adequate content, reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity. This study also aimed to apply the extended CEI to an exploration of the relationship between CE and willingness to boycott. Research results from another independent study with 450 respondents using a structural equation model confirmed the positive relationship between CE and willingness to boycott. In addition, theoretical implications are discussed.
... Tourists misbehave in a variety of settings such as after service failure in hotels (Daskin and Kasim 2016) and airports (Taheri et al. 2020); after negative customer-tocustomer interactions (Go and Kim 2018) and exchanges in the sharing economy; while visiting amusement parks (Chapman and Light 2017); and during flights (Hunter 2016). However, previous research has typically focused on major or felonious forms of travel misbehavior, including abusive language, physical violence, sexual assault, theft, and vandalism, where tourists' misconduct is viewed as the exception, illegal, or a significant deviation from the norm (Fisk and Neville 2011). This position neglects a multitude of less prominent, but more commonplace, behaviors in the gray area between unethical and illegal actions, where tourist misbehavior is highly subjective. ...
Full-text available
Tourist misbehavior is well documented in the literature and has predominantly focused on the visible, major, or felonious forms of deviance, such as vandalism, violence, or theft. We argue for the importance of considering a more subtle side of tourist misbehavior often tolerated, ignored, or even enabled by host communities and hospitality employees. Exploring the more subtle side of tourist misbehavior is important, because it is more clandestine and less extreme than obvious misbehaviors, yet its prevalence suggests important business and environmental implications. We undertook in-depth interviews with 47 frequent travelers and employed a criminological lens, that of deviant leisure, to uncover a range of deviant tourist behaviors by focusing on the accumulation of traveling mementos (items that tourists bring back from their travels). Two dimensions of memento accumulation emerged with eight forms of tourist misbehavior, each with unique motives, practices, and implications. Findings point to the importance and mass appeal of these more subtle and elusive deviant practices. Suggestions for practitioners, policy makers, and academics are then discussed.
... Chowning and Campbell 2009). To illustrate, academic entitlement involves expectations of high grades without actually studying and is associated with academic cheating (Chowning and Campbell 2009), employee entitlement involves expectations of special treatment such as financial bonuses without high performance and is linked to falsifying hours on a timesheet (Fisk 2010; see also Huseman et al. 1987), and consumer entitlement involves expectations of special treatment in the retail environment and predicts aggressive and degrading responses to customer service personnel (Fisk and Neville 2011). This existing research on contextualized entitlement reveals that the domain in which entitlement is embedded dictates to what exactly individuals feel entitled (e.g. ...
Entitlement has been identified as a potentially valuable employee characteristic in the prediction of computer abuse but has not been studied systematically in the IS domain. We introduce the construct of technological entitlement as the persistent sense of being more deserving of technological resources, uses, and privileges compared to other employees. Adapting a model of general entitlement to the work technology context, we theorize that technological entitlement predicts computer abuse and that this relationship is amplified by perceptions of technology restriction. After developing and validating a scale to measure technological entitlement, we conduct three studies with working adult samples to test our hypotheses. In Study 1 (n = 187), using a behavioral design, we find that technological entitlement predicts computer abuse behavior (beyond general entitlement) and that this relationship is stronger when employees perceive organizational restrictions on technology usage. We replicate these findings in Study 2 (n = 339) with an experiment. In Study 3 (n = 156), we manipulate the context of restrictiveness within our experimental vignette to establish the generalizability of our moderator. We discuss how technological entitlement helps explain existing inconsistencies in the effectiveness of deterrence measures as well as other theoretical and practical implications of our work.
... The lack of the application of the defeat-entrapment model in the work psychology literature does not imply that people at work do not experience feelings of entrapment. Prior research indicated that employees could feel "defeated" and "trapped" in work situations or in their job roles (Fernet et al., 2013;Fisk & Neville, 2011), whereas limited frameworks are able to specifically capture and explain how feelings of entrapment influence well-being in the workplace. We found that the mediating effect of leader entrapment linking unclear follower demands to leader outcomes remains significant when leader negative affect is controlled. ...
Although effective leaders are important for reducing employee stress during the COVID‐19, limited studies have examined how follower behaviors can influence leader stress and wellbeing during the COVID‐19. This study draws on defeat‐entrapment theory to examine how followers’ unclear demands during the COVID‐19 consequently impact leaders’ psychological states and wellbeing. We conducted a three‐wave time‐lagged investigation with a sample of 281 leaders in the United Kingdom and found that followers’ unclear demands could generate feelings of entrapment in leaders, leading to decreased levels of wellbeing outcomes in leaders. Importantly, we found that leaders who have higher levels of leadership responsibility during the COVID‐19 are likely to feel trapped by followers’ unclear demands. They are also likely to face higher levels of feelings of entrapment and impaired wellbeing compared with leaders who have lower levels of leadership responsibility. We discuss the implications for theories and practices, as well as directions for future research.
Full-text available
The fundamental objective of this paper is to contribute to the strain of research for understanding the customer pain points experienced in the food and logistics industry and come up with possible. Artificial Intelligence based solutions. Primarily, we have focused on three crucial aspects to improve the entire process of the online food delivery and logistics industry, i.e., uncovering customer pain points, comprehending business obstacles, and achieving an overall synchronization of the end-to-end process. This paper addresses such concerns by using state-of-the-art advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Block chain, and more. Every potential method mentioned in this paper also describes the features used to build this technology with a detailed understanding of every feature proposed. The article also discusses the future challenges faced after incorporating state-of-the-art techniques to improve processes and systems further.
Purpose The purpose of this study is to explore the antecedents of consumer entitlement among loyal consumers in response to a perceived brand failure, as well as the effect of consumer entitlement on satisfaction and behavioral intentions. Design/methodology/approach An online questionnaire asked 226 Game of Thrones viewers about their reactions to the final season of the series. Partial least squares structural equation modeling was the analysis method for testing the hypotheses. Findings Investment, perceived justice and collective fairness are all predictors of entitlement. Fan identification increases feelings of investment. Entitlement has a negative relationship with satisfaction, and satisfaction is positively related to relational behaviors. Practical implications Loyal, highly entitled consumers can make life difficult for a brand in customer service encounters, on social media and financially. The manuscript offers managers an understanding of which consumers and situations may elicit entitlement and how to mitigate entitlement. Originality/value This is one of the first studies to attempt to model antecedents of consumer entitlement and to study entitlement among highly loyal consumers in response to a perceived brand failure. The study furthers existing research by pointing out the effect of entitlement on the relationship with the brand and consequences for the brand, as opposed to past studies, which have largely explored the effects of working with entitled consumers on front-line employees.
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If service quality relates to retention of customers at the aggregate level, as other research has indicated, then evidence of its impact on customers’ behavioral responses should be detectable. The authors offer a conceptual model of the impact of service quality on particular behaviors that signal whether customers remain with or defect from a company. Results from a multicompany empirical study examining relationships from the model concerning customers’ behavioral intentions show strong evidence of their being influenced by service quality. The findings also reveal differences in the nature of the quality-intentions link across different dimensions of behavioral intentions. The authors’ discussion centers on ways the results and research approach of their study can be helpful to researchers and managers.
All published research examining effects of humor and laughter on physical health is reviewed. Potential causal mechanisms and methodological issues are discussed. Laboratory experiments have shown some effects of exposure to comedy on several components of immunity, although the findings are inconsistent and most of the studies have methodological problems. There is also some evidence of analgesic effects of exposure to comedy, although similar findings are obtained with negative emotions. Few significant correlations have been found between trait measures of humor and immunity, pain tolerance, or self-reported illness symptoms. There is also little evidence of stress-moderating effects of humor on physical health variables and no evidence of increased longevity with greater humor. More rigorous and theoretically informed research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn about possible health benefits of humor and laughter.
Attending Hamburger University, Robin Leidner observes how McDonald's trains the managers of its fast-food restaurants to standardize every aspect of service and product. Learning how to sell life insurance at a large midwestern firm, she is coached on exactly what to say, how to stand, when to make eye contact, and how to build up Positive Mental Attitude by chanting 'I feel happy! I feel terrific!' Leidner's fascinating report from the frontlines of two major American corporations uncovers the methods and consequences of regulating workers' language, looks, attitudes, ideas, and demeanor. Her study reveals the complex and often unexpected results that come with the routinization of service work. Some McDonald's workers resent the constraints of prescribed uniforms and rigid scripts, while others appreciate how routines simplify their jobs and give them psychological protection against unpleasant customers. Combined Insurance goes further than McDonald's in attempting to standardize the workers' very selves, instilling in them adroit maneuvers to overcome customer resistance. The routinization of service work has both poignant and preposterous consequences. It tends to undermine shared understandings about individuality and social obligations, sharpening the tension between the belief in personal autonomy and the domination of a powerful corporate culture. Richly anecdotal and accessibly written, Leidner's book charts new territory in the sociology of work. With service sector work becoming increasingly important in American business, her timely study is particularly welcome.