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Conflict with customers: the limits of social support and job autonomy in preventing burnout among customer service workers

Alyssa T. Klingbyle (Department of Psychology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada)
Greg A. Chung-Yan (Department of Psychology, University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 29 September 2022

Issue publication date: 6 January 2023

132

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine the burnout of workers in customer service roles as a result of conflict with customers; and the role that coworker support, non-work-related social support and job autonomy play in buffering customer service workers from conflict with customers.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 191 young customer service workers completed an online self-report questionnaire.

Findings

Although it was found that coworker support, non-work-related social support and job autonomy moderated the relationship between customer conflict and burnout, the form of the interactions was not as expected. Rather than buffering customer service workers specifically against customer conflict, it was found that as customer conflict intensifies, it gradually erodes the positive benefits that coworker support, general social support and job autonomy have in preventing burnout as a result of general work stress.

Originality/value

This study is one of few to empirically investigate the unique stressors experienced by customer service workers. It also expands understanding of social support and job autonomy in the context of work stress, demonstrating that there are limits to the effectiveness of these personal and organizational resources in preserving worker well-being.

Keywords

Citation

Klingbyle, A.T. and Chung-Yan, G.A. (2023), "Conflict with customers: the limits of social support and job autonomy in preventing burnout among customer service workers", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 150-166. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-04-2022-0074

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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