Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine how customers with different relational bonds respond to the same service failure. In particular, the framework to service failure and recovery devised by Fournier and Mick is applied. Design/methodology/approach – To uncover rich emotional and cognitive responses to service failure, in-depth interviews with eight former and current patrons of an Australian opera were used. Findings – Three types of relationship were identified: satisfaction-as-love (SaL), satisfaction-as-trust (SaT) and satisfaction-as-control (SaC). Each responded to the same failure in different ways. SaL customers had emotional bonds with the product category and thus reaffiremed their loyalty following the failure. SaT customers saw the service failure and inadequate recovery as a breach of the brand's implied promise and thus excited the relationship. SaC customers took charge of the situation, using their status to improve their situation and then defended the brand. Practical implications – The findings indicate the importance of customizing service recovery strategies, in this case to those customers with the strongest emotional bonds to the brand, not the product class. Originality/value – This is the first paper to examine how relational customers respond to service failure and identify how different customer-brand relationships result in different post-failure reactions and expectations of service recovery.
Field of Research
150305 Human Resources Management
Socio Economic Objective
970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
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