Friend, L.A., Costley, C. & Brown, C. (2010). Spirals of distrust vs spirals of trust in retail customer service: consumers as victims or allies. Journal of Services Marketing, 24(6), 458-467.
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4714
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine “nasty” retail shopping experiences. The paper aims to consider implications of distrust related to theft control measures in retail customer service. Design/methodology/approach – Storytelling as a “memory-work” method draws on phenomenology, hermeneutics, and the narrative. Researchers and participants worked together as co-researchers to analyze and interpret “lived” experiences contained in their written personal stories. The authors extend this understanding in the context of existing literature. Findings – Distrust pervaded the stories, which focused on shoplifting accusations (real and imagined). As a violation of implicit trust, distrust provoked intense moral emotions, damaged identities, and fuelled retaliation. Findings illustrate a pervasive downward “spiral of distrust” in the retail context. Practical implications – Results suggest that retailers use store personnel rather than technological surveillance to control theft. Interacting with customers and displaying cooperation builds respect, trust, and relationships and may deter theft. Retailers should add signs of trust and remove signs of distrust from retail environments. They cannot rely on service recovery to appease customers disgruntled by distrust. Social implications – When retailers act as if they care, customers reciprocate, creating upward trust spirals and stronger communities. Originality/value – A dark side to retail loss-prevention tactics is demonstrated in the paper. Surveillance signals distrust, which repels customers and resists service recovery. Concepts of spirals of distrust and trust to the services marketing literature are introduced. The spirals illustrate how distrust destroys and trust builds relationships and communities. Furthermore, ideas are offered about ways to start upward trust spirals.
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