International Journal of Service Industry Management
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate how and why other-customer misbehavior has a negative influence on customer satisfaction with the service firm.Design methodology approach - Data for this study were gathered by retrospective experience sampling.Findings - There are several important findings that can be obtained from the results. First, people consider another customer's failure to be the firm's responsibility when they perceive that the failure is under the firm's volitional control (i.e. controllability attribution). This controllability attribution leads to customer expectations of compensation for recovery from dissatisfaction. Second, stability attributions about other-customer failures were not found to be significantly related to the firm's responsibility. Third, the severity of the other-customer failure experience bears no relation to the customer's service recovery expectation, but it is negatively related to satisfaction. Finally, the customer's evaluation of service is not only affected by the other-customer misbehavior, but also by how employees react to situations when other customers are unruly or potentially disruptive.Practical implications - Providing employees with the appropriate coping and problem-solving skills for working with problem customers is a key issue for service providers. More importantly, employees should be trained to help the affected customers, to alleviate any bad feelings caused by the other-customer's misbehavior.Originality value - The paper suggests that employees in a service-providing firm may need to act as "police officers" to ensure that all their customers behave appropriately.