WSU Marketing Research Cited as ‘Central Hub of Knowledge’ on the Dark Side of Customer Behavior

By Eric Hollenbeck

Jeff Joireman

We’ve all heard the age-old saying “the customer is always right.” However, in recent years, an emerging field of research has delved into the rise of customer incivility and misbehavior, commonly referred to as the “dark side of customer behavior.”

This term encompasses a range of negative behaviors, including customers who act inconsiderately, seek revenge or retaliate, and more. In 2013, a research paper by Carson College of Business professors Jeff Joireman and Tom Tripp shed new light on the topic.

The paper “When Do Customers Offer Firms a ‘Second Chance’ Following a Double Deviation? The Impact of Inferred Firm Motives on Customer Revenge and Reconciliation,” was recently recognized for its key analysis, insights, and impact in research on customer revenge and rage, according to a recent review article published in the Journal of Business Research. Joireman and Tripp’s paper ranked first in the category “Customer Revenge and Rage” and second overall in the “Dark Side of Customer Behavior” based on normalized citations—a top indicator of overall research impact and influence.

According to Joireman, the lead author, “Research on customer incivility has grown exponentially over the past decade. It’s an honor to have our work recognized as influential in this field.”

Tom Tripp

The team identified factors that lead customers to seek revenge or reconciliation after experiencing a service failure followed by a failed recovery, often known as a “double deviation.” One key factor tilting customers toward revenge was a perception that a firm had negative motives or was trying to take advantage of the customer.

The research, coauthored by Yany Grégoire, marketing professor at HEC Montréal, and Berna Devezer, associate professor of marketing at the University of Idaho, has contributed to a better understanding of customer behavior and incivility and provided valuable insights for businesses looking to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.