Knowledge transfer when dealing with dysfunctional behavior : A study focused on the situation where customers misbehave against each other on social media
There is a current debate in Swedish media regarding the negative aspects of Internet and social media, a debate which is also virtual in blogs and forums. This started with a post on the clothing company H&M’s Facebook page where a user was virtually attacked in an aggressive manner by other users. This kind of online behavior between customers can be seen as a new challenge for organizations, especially as social media is continuously growing.
We have investigated the area of misbehaving customers, also known as dysfunctional customer behavior, by looking into the theoretical area of knowledge transfer. Within knowledge transfer we have focused on the strategies codification, which concerns transferring knowledge from people-to-documents, and personalization, meaning transferring knowledge from people-to-people.
Previous studies within knowledge transfer has investigated this in relation to different contexts, including how different context affects the transfer, how knowledge is transferred between organizations or within specific industries or businesses. However, there is a lack of research regarding knowledge transfer in relation to customers misbehaving. Hence, the purpose of this study was to understand if and how organizations work with a codification and/or personalization strategy for transferring knowledge when handling dysfunctional customer behavior on social media. By comparing the organizations we investigated reasons and underlying factors for their way of transferring knowledge.
In order to fulfill the purpose we made a qualitative research with four companies that are active on social media. We conducted semi-structured interviews with respondents holding both managerial positions as well as with employees working practically with social media.
Our study showed that both codification and personalization are used as knowledge transfer strategies when dealing with customers that misbehave on social media. The codification strategy is pursued by the use of databases, information-systems, guidelines and documentation. These methods were used to make knowledge available for all employees and to make work more effective. The personalization strategy is followed by talking to each other in person, via telephone, email or chat. This knowledge transfer strategy was pursued to exchange ideas in order to receive input and advice from one another.
We also found that when dealing with customers behaving badly towards other customers on social media, personalization holds a higher usage than codification. Further our study showed that three underlying factors affect the usage of the codification and personalization strategy, namely, closeness, previous experience and available knowledge transfer sources.
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