Customers who feel ‘powerless’ will disengage with that company

By our News Team | 2023

Study emphasises that people who feel a business is unresponsive to them will complain, disengage and create negative word-of-mouth.

Customers who feel powerless in their relationship with a company are likely to disengage from the company and experience negative effects on their overall wellbeing, suggests new research from the University of Surrey in the UK.

Researchers found that customers may remain engaged to businesses if they feel that their voices are being heard and they receive customer-centric service actions.

Customer Service

Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The study recommends that firms consider monitoring and engaging in ‘power management’ to better balance their relationship with customers and improve customers’ quality of life.

“We explored customer views and opinions about firms in the retail, hospitality and financial sectors – and our interviews showed that there are clear drivers of low customer power. Unsurprisingly, slow and impersonal customer service interactions [with] companies that are dominant within an industry – such as [UK private] train operators that control a particular route – were top of the list of low power drivers,” says Dr Liliane Abboud, lead author of the study and Lecturer in Marketing at Surrey Business School.

She adds: “Ignoring customer power would be a risky strategy for companies to employ, as we found that perceptions of low power led to customer complaints, disengagement and negative word-of-mouth.”

The researchers have therefore proposed a framework to help companies quickly identify low-power drivers and behaviours that could lead to customers disengaging directly or indirectly from a company.

Abboud and her team’s research, entitled ‘I can’t always get what I want: low power, service customer (dis)engagement and wellbeing’ has been published in the peer-reviewed European Journal of Marketing.

You can find out more about the study here.