Handling the Customer Employee Relationship, According to Northwestern – Chicago News

Customer Employee Relationship

Let’s explore some of the most interesting stories that have emerged from Chicago business schools this week.

Customers Can Be Jerks. Here’s Why Some Employees RetaliateKellogg Insight

Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management Clinical Professor of Management and Organizations Cynthia Wang co-authored new research that seeks to understand the broader implications of employee reactions to unpleasant customers. Do they respond in turn with hostility and try to sabotage the customer or do they turn the other cheek?

Among the extensive psychological research in this area, Wang and her co-authors were drawn to a model known as the social intuitionist model, which argues that moral-decision making is the result of snap judgement and heightened emotion.

“In that heightened emotional state,” Wang explains, “we begin to view problem customers as not worthy of fair treatment—a phenomenon psychologists call ‘devaluation of targets’—which leads employees to see those customers as subhuman.” The reverse, where customers also treat employees poorly, also rang true.

Wang adds:

“These decisions are very quick and implicit. We don’t necessarily notice them going on.” 

You can read more about the research here.

Brexit Clouded by Uncertainty, Says Gies ProfessorGies School of Business News

United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May canceled the House of Commons Brexit vote that was scheduled for December 11, putting a Brexit solution on hold for now, leaving the future of UK’s relationship with the European Union up in the air.

The UK is still scheduled to leave the EU on March 29, 2019 and parliament needs to strike a deal to make the departure as smooth as possible. Major challenges include finding a solution for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, along with dealing with the consequences of leaving the European Union for businesses and jobs in both the United States and the UK.

Candace Martinez, University of Illinois Gies College of Business Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Administration, remarks, “If the UK cannot arrive at a solution to the Irish border quandary, a ‘backstop’ approach is a last resort,” noting that Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU on the June 2016 referendum.

Martinez adds, “Uncertainties are everywhere. This is uncharted waters, to be sure.”

You can read more from the interview with Martinez here.

Sales Class Challenges Students to Provide Creative Solutions for NonprofitsDePaul Business News & Events

As part of the Marketing 386: Social Impact Sales course at the DePaul University Driehaus College of Business Center for Sales Leadership, students are partnered with a local nonprofit, providing marketing and sales advice. “After working in teams, students present their business plans to the nonprofit toward the end of the quarter. A winning team is then selected by Drehmer and the non-profit to present their creative solutions in front of executives at 3M in St. Paul, Minn.,” according to DePaul University’s Jaclyn Lansbery.

Charlie Drehmer, Isaly Varela, Mark McLellan (3M), Dominique DiVito, Gavin Hultgren, Ava Kilborn, and Mike Nowak.

(Left to right) Center for Sales Leadership Executive-in-Residence Charlie Drehmer; Isaly Varela; Mark McLellan, national channel operations manager at 3M; Dominique DiVito; Gavin Hultgren; Ava Kilborn and Mike Nowak / Photo via

Charles Drehmer (BS `03, MBA `04, MA `16, Ph.D. `17), who teaches the course, says: “The Social Impact Sales class is extremely rewarding for both me and the students in that we truly make difference in people’s lives. The class is as real as it gets, where students meet with the client to discover their needs and wants, design and execute a market research study and then present their recommendations to the client. Not only does the project provide students a hands-on real-world experience, they also get to make a positive impact on underserved communities.”

Last fall, students worked with Chicago Community ToolBank, providing a marketing and sales strategy. “The project focused on a new program, Corporate Days of Service, which offers private companies a unique team-bonding experience where they use the ToolBank’s tools and facilities to build furniture that is donated to a nonprofit organization of their choice. Students also worked together to build bookshelves that were donated so they better understood what new service would entail,” Lansbery writes.

Isaly Varela, an undergraduate business student in the program, adds, “The class has given us the skills to think critically about marketing and sales along with being comfortable with ourselves.

To read more about the program, head on over to the official DePaul Univesity website.


About the Author

Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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