Exploring customer engagement valences in the social services

Kay Naumann*, Jana Lay-Hwa Bowden, Mark Gabbott

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: Minimal attention is given to the negative valences of customer engagement and how they manifest in ways that detract from service value. The purpose of this paper is to uncover the meaning and conceptual dimensions of disengagement and negative engagement in conjunction with positive engagement. It explores how three valences of engagement manifest towards dual objects: the service community and the focal service organisation. This exploration is based within a new and novel social service context.

    Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative approach using (four) focus groups is used.

    Findings: A conceptual model of customer engagement is derived from the groups that include strongly held and positive customer engagement; passive, yet negatively orientated customer disengagement; and active and destructive negative customer engagement. Positive customer engagement is found to be directed at the service community object, whereas customer disengagement and negative engagement are directed at the focal service organisation object. A spillover effect is also revealed whereby negative engagement with the focal service organisation detracts from customers’ positive engagement within their service community. This suggests that engagement within a social service is multifaceted: several engagement valences may exist within one service relationship. It also suggests that these engagement valences are interrelated. 

    Originality/value: This is the first paper to apply three valences of engagement within the one focal relationship and examine how they manifest towards two objects, providing a unique perspective of how different interactions within the service ecosystem can influence engagement.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)890-912
    Number of pages23
    JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


    • Customer engagement
    • Disengagement
    • Engagement objects
    • Engagement valences
    • Social services


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