Customers behaving badly: A state of the art review, research agenda and implications for practitioners

Ray Fisk, Stephen Grove, Lloyd C. Harris, Dominique A. Keeffe, Rebekah Russell/Bennett, Kate L. Daunt, Jochen Wirtz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to highlight important issues in the study of dysfunctional customer behavior and to provide a research agenda to inspire, guide, and enthuse. Through a critical evaluation of existing research, the aim is to highlight key issues and to present potentially worthy avenues for future study. Design/methodology/approach – In reviewing recent and past advances in the study of customers behaving badly, an overview of existing research into customers behaving badly and addressing issues of terminology and definition is provided. Thereafter, three perspectives that provide the most opportunity and insight in studying the darker side of service dynamics are outlined. This leads to a review of some of the research design and methodological problems and issues that are faced when rigorously studying these issues. Subsequently, the paper devotes a section to the provocative idea that while dysfunctional customer behavior has many negative influences on customers, employees, and service firms, there are actually some positive functions of customers behaving badly. Findings – A research agenda is provided that is believed to identify and discuss a range of projects that comprises not only insightful theoretical contributions but is also practically relevant. Originality/value – The paper identifies a range of issues about which managers should be aware and proactively manage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-429
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2010


  • Consumer behaviour
  • Consumers
  • Customers
  • Employee attitudes
  • Research
  • Service levels


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