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Scholars have proposed that the negative effects of service failures can be countered by developing and maintaining high quality customer-company relationships or by providing excellent service recovery to customers. While both strategies have been proposed as ways to overcome the negative effects of service failures, there are only a limited number of studies that have examined their joint effects. The purpose of this paper is to fill this gap by investigating the impact of these two strategies jointly on rumination (brooding and reflection), anger and customer forgiveness (revenge, avoidance and benevolence).Design/methodology/approachThe experimental design used in this study is an adaptation of Mattila’s (2001) research design, which manipulated both the level of service recovery and relationship. A total of 677 respondents were assigned randomly to one of the six experimental conditions. Multi-group structural equation modeling was employed to estimate the proposed model across three relational conditions.FindingsThis study suggests that the buffering effects are directly triggered by the impact of relationships, whereas, the magnifying effects are primarily related to the customer’s cognitive processes. This study reveals multiple forms of concurrent buffering and magnifying effects in service failures.Originality/valueThe findings of the study led to a classification system of the various forms of buffering and magnifying effects of relationships in the event of service failures. The four active roles of relationships are identified as damage control, benefit catalyst, benefit attenuator and damage catalyst. This proposed typology breaks new ground for theorizing about relationship utilization in negative incidents.
Journal of Service Theory and Practice – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 6, 2018
Keywords: Service recovery; Relationship; Rumination; Buffering effect; Customer forgiveness; Magnifying effect
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