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What goes on between customers? A cross-industry study of customer-to-customer interaction (CCI)

Richard Nicholls (Department of Marketing and Enterprise, Worcester Business School, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 16 March 2020

Issue publication date: 22 May 2020




This study aims to provide service managers and researchers with a deeper understanding of the direct on-site interactions taking place between customers.


Using the Critical Incident Technique (CIT), 284 incidents are analysed to develop a typology of how service customers experience direct on-site CCI.


The research reveals a wide range of CCI. A typology consisting of nine distinct categories of CCI emerged: (1) shared use space, (2) assigned space and possessions, (3) information provision, (4) assistance, (5) social conversations, (6) disrespectful attitude, (7) queuing discipline, (8) transaction efficiency and (9) undesired customers and ‘camouflaged customers’. These categories can accommodate a multitude of customer behaviours that impact, negatively or positively, on the service experience of other customers.

Research limitations/implications

Future studies could be conducted following a more inclusive research design capable of gaining CCI insights from employees and managers.

Practical implications

Practitioners can use the typology to systematically identify the full range of specific CCI behaviours affecting their businesses. It also assists them in the analysis and understanding of individual C2C (customer-to-customer) interactions. For academics the typology makes available a comprehensive framework to guide future research into CCI.


The study constitutes the first systematic attempt to classify direct on-site CCI across a wide range of services. The typology, unrestricted by any single-industry bias, is robust and conceptually broad, and therefore highly portable across service industries.



Nicholls, R. (2020), "What goes on between customers? A cross-industry study of customer-to-customer interaction (CCI)", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 123-147.



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