Deakin University

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Self-service technology complaint channel choice : exploring consumers' motives

journal contribution
posted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by Nichola RobertsonNichola Robertson
Purpose – This study aims to explore consumers' motives for their choice of complaint channel in the context of self-service technology (SST) failure. Traditional and evolving communication channels are considered.

Design/methodology/approach – Qualitative self-report data from consumers who had recently experienced dissatisfaction with SSTs were collected via an open-ended survey question. Three independent coders used a deductive and inductive iterative process to code the data.

Findings – The findings suggest that both consumer complaint behaviour (CCB) theory and media richness theory (MRT) help to explain consumers' motivation for channel choice. However, consumers' choice appears to be motivated to a greater degree by convenience rather than task-medium fit.

Research limitations/implications – This study was set solely in the SST context and explored consumers' hypothetical complaint channel choice, not actual channel use. Future research could examine the actual performance of complaint channels as perceived by consumers. Consumers' motivation to choose other emerging electronic complaint channels, such as complaint blogs and forums, could also be explored.

Practical implications – Understanding consumers' complaint channel choice is important for organisations to enable them to provide effective and efficient ways for consumers to complain. As complaint channels proliferate, it is difficult for organisations to know which channels to offer.

Originality/value – Choosing an appropriate channel for resolving a complaint is an important consumer decision, which the study of CCB needs to be broadened to include. The current study addresses this gap by, for the first time, integrating CCB theory and MRT. This is valuable because it is common for consumers not to voice their complaints to organisations. To facilitate voiced complaints, organisations need to determine which complaint channels will be most effective and efficient and in which situations.



Managing service quality






145 - 164


Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Bingley, England





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited