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Investigating Customer-Oriented Deviance (COD) from a frontline employee's perspective

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While frontline employees (FLEs) are known to bend the rules or act in non-conforming ways for customers, the phenomenon of FLEs over-servicing customers is not well understood. This paper proposes a behavioural concept termed customer-oriented deviance (COD) and a conceptual model of its key drivers. Using a qualitative study involving 22 in-depth interviews with FLEs, the analysis reveals three categories of COD behaviours: deviant service adaptation (DSA), deviant service communication (DSC), and deviant use of resources (DUR). The drivers of COD are categorised as individual (risk-taking, service aptitude, and pro-social moral values), situational (resource availability, social capita with customers, legitimacy of customer problems, and avoidance of hassles), and organisational (unconducive service climate and anticipated rewards). This paper contributes to understanding how and why FLEs over-service customers and extends current research by exploring multiple categories of behaviours within a services marketing context.

Keywords: frontline employees; interviews; positive deviance; pro-customer

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Griffith University, Australia 2: Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2012

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