The production of most services depends heavily on human involvement which, by definition, implies variability. The difficulty of standardising human behaviour during service delivery at a level expected by customers is exacerbated by the simultaneity of production and consumption. When service failures occur, the presence of customers leaves little scope for corrective action without the customer being aware of the mishap. The difficulty in avoiding visible service failures does not have to result in dissatisfied customers, however. Service firms can go a long way towards turning dissatisfied customers who have had a negative service experience into ones who are likely to remain loyal to the firm. That, however, requires an effective service recovery programme. This study pursued two objectives. The empirical results show that attribution (the firm accepting blame) is, relatively speaking, the dimension most important to customers in their assessment of the service recovery effort, followed by empowerment and apology. Once a service failure has occurred, customers prefer to deal with staff who are empowered to solve their problem quickly and they do not want to hear that someone else is to blame. An apology in person or, alternatively, by telephone is preferable. Surprisingly, pre‐service failure perceptions do not influence the customer’s satisfaction with the recovery effort, suggesting that service recovery is situation‐specific.
International Journal of Service Industry Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 1, 1998
Keywords: Consumer attitudes; Customer care; Empowerment; Service quality