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Customer Interactions Research Group

Literally billions of customer interactions occur each day. They are of different types, including: interactions between employees and customers (E2C); interactions between customers (C2C); and interactions between customers and technology (C2T or C2SST). Many of these interactions are quite complex – especially when they do not go as expected. The Customer Interactions Research Group (CIRGroup) focuses on trying to identify, explore and explain these complexities.  

The CIRG comprises a team of academic experts representing the specialist knowledge within Worcester Business School in customer behaviour and complex customer interactions. They have both theoretical and applied skills in this momentous field of marketing. CIRG members have a wide-ranging scope of research interests including all areas concerned with the Global Consumer within the commercial and retail private-sector environment of product and service exchange, and also within non-profit public sector services and social marketing contexts.

CIRG members work with a variety of research perspectives and undertake studies using a spectrum of philosophical perspectives, methodological approaches and innovative methods. In their exploration of complex customer interaction, the group members draw upon a wide range of disciplines ranging from marketing, economics, business management, through to psychology, sociology, anthropology and even ergonomics.


The CIRG aims to advance understandings of complex customer behaviours and interactions in the marketplace through conceptual and applied research driven by marketing and management problems and challenges. The research group’s activities are directed at providing excellent research that contributes to the wider community of consumers, customers, businesses, government bodies and the public. Impact is of critical importance in motivating research projects and intelligence studies with the objective of advancing knowledge, contributing to societal change and advancement, training the next generation of junior researchers and extending bridges with industry and the wider community. Our research focus extends beyond the regional and national level into global markets, and involves international collaborations and implications.

The CIRG is currently working on research projects on:

• Customer age-differences and C2C interactions
• Establishing sustainable practices through Technology Driven Behaviour Change
• Customer-technology Interactions and Implications
• Food Portions: The How and Why of Eating under different Conditions
• Luxury Fashion Consumption and Cultural Differences
• Fashion Sustainability and Disposal Behaviours: the Attitude-Behaviour Gap
• Impulse Buying and Habitual Control
• Diffusion of Self-service Technologies and implications for an ageing population
• Customer retention in services marketing
• Sustainable Practices and Strategies in Managing Customers
• Co-located shared interactions with multi-touch interactive displays
• Dialogue interaction habits with mobile devices

PhD Students and Post-Doctoral Researchers

Research Group members are interested to consider applications from potential doctoral candidates that relate to their varied research interests.

CIRG Members

The Research Group is led by Dr Richard Nicholls.

Dr Richard Nicholls

Main area of research focuses on Customer-to-Customer Interaction (CCI), including its conceptualisation, classification and management. Richard is also interested in ageing trends in society and their implications for service consumption. He has a broad and long term interest in services marketing and managing service encounters.

Other CIRG members are:

Dr Chris Bowers

Research is focussed around Interactive Intelligent Systems. His work bridges the two domains of Human-Computer Interaction and Computational Intelligence. Chris is interested in how users interact with systems that incorporate some measure of intelligence and computational intelligence.  

Mahinaz Hafez 

Main area of interest is researching consumers’ buying behaviours, specifically extreme buying behaviours such as excessive buying and compulsive buying. Mahinaz is interested in exploring the motives behind the excessive buying of food during festive occasions in Arab cultures, also combining this with the study of waste as a possible outcome. 

Dr Laila Kasem

Research expertise is in International Business, International Marketing, Strategy and Organisational Learning. In addition to these areas of expertise, Laila is interested in consumer behaviour in general and food consumption and cross-cultural consumer behaviour in particular. 

Dr Paulo Mora-Avila 

Research focused in consumer psychology, corporate reputation and branding. Paulo is also interested in cross-cultural and cross-generational consumer behavior and consumer generated communications in social media.   

Dr Helen Watts

Research areas are connected to consumer loyalty and retention as well as service quality and customer value. Helen also looks at brand association, personality, identification and the social identification as well as services marketing and management. 

Dr Ria Wiid 

Research is focussed on contemporary marketing communications, authenticity and inside-out branding. Ria is also interested in contemporary advertising, social media marketing, content marketing and meaning-making in visual communication. 

Guest Members: 

Dr Marwa Gad Mohsen 

Research focuses on time attitudes and temporality in consumer research in relation to adoption decision making and the attitude-behaviour gap; time influences in service scheduling/marketing is also among her areas of expertise. She studies sustainability and disposability motivations in fashion consumption as well as food consumption decision making dynamics (e.g. Food portions; the Foodie Trend). Marwa is also interested in a systematic understanding of self-service technology (SST) and its influence in shaping the future in a global context. 

Dr Jenny Ma 

Areas of interest connected to impulse buying/impulsivity and consumption. Jenny also researches cross-cultural consumer research and consumer behaviour linked to sexual/gender differences as well as looking at behavioural research and evolutionary psychology. 

Dr Pooja Trivedi 

Primary research fields include sustainable marketing, consumer behaviour, mindful consumption and electronic marketing. She is also interested in understanding how sustainable marketing practices add value for business. In addition, Pooja has worked on exploring the effectiveness of social media marketing for consumers and business corporations.  

Recent Publications

Cowan, B. R. Bowers, C. P., Beale, R. and Pinder, C. (2013) The stroppy kettle: an intervention to break energy consumption habits. In CHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '13). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 1485-1490

Gad Mohsen, M. and Dacko, S. (2013) A Temporal Perspective on Benefit Segmentation in Organic Food Consumption: Consume It Now, But Benefit When? Journal of Marketing Management, 29(15-16), 1701-1728

Gad Mohsen, M. and Marciniak, R. (2014). ‘Homogeneity in Luxury Fashion Consumption: An Exploration of Arab Women’, IMRA-ABRM International Conference, Cambridge, June 2014.

Golz, P., Bowers, C. & Price, M. (2016) A Practical Approach to Using Motion Capture in Performance Dance. Procs. Electronic Visualisation of the Arts (EVA 2016), London UK, 12-14 July, pp 284-286 

Ibeh, K. and Kasem, L. (2014) Internationalization's effect on marketing learning: A study of Syrian firms” Journal of Business Research. 67 (5), 680-685.

Nicholls, R. (2011) Customer-to-customer interaction (CCI): a cross-cultural perspective, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 23 (2): 209-223. 

Nicholls, R. (2010) New directions for customer-to-customer interaction research, Journal of Services Marketing, 24 (1): 87-97.

Nicholls, R. (2013) Services and service marketing in Central and Eastern Europe. In: Fisk, R.P., Russell-Bennett, R. and Harris, L.C. (eds.), Serving Customers: Global Services Marketing Perspectives, Prahran, Australia, Tilde University Press, pp. 327-329.  

Nicholls, R. (2016), Responding to Fluctuating Demand for Healthcare Services. Medical Maestro Magazine, 14: 1946-1951.  

Vasalou, A., Oostveen, A., Bowers, C. and Beale, R. (2014) Understanding engagement with privacy through design. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. 

Watts, H. (2016), It’s Cheaper than Acquiring New Ones: Retaining members to your service.  

Wiid, R., Grant, P. S., Mills, A. J., and Pitt, L. F. (2016), No joke: Understanding public sentiment toward selling and salespeople through cartoon analysis. Marketing Theory, 16(2), 171–193.