When customers want to become frontline employees: an exploratory study of decision factors and motivation types
Labor shortages have long been an issue in the service industry. One pool of potential dedicated and skilled employees that has remained untapped is customers. This study explores the customer to frontline employee (CtFE) phenomenon: customers becoming frontline employees after consumption experience. Through one-on-one, in-depth interviews, we identify factors related to job choice and service experience influencing customers’ CtFE decisions. We also develop propositions and a conceptual framework to describe CtFE choices. Finally, we categorize potential CtFEs as idealist, dream-catcher, approval-seeker, and pragmatist. Our findings suggest that CtFEs can be a critical labor source in the service sector.