Relational Damage and Relationship Repair

Tim Jones, Peter A. Dacin and Shirley F. Taylor published “Relational Damage and Relationship Repair : A New Look at Transgressions in Service Relationships” in the August 2011 issue of Journal of Service Research. Dr. Jones kindly provided the following reflection on the article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

Service firms that tend to have repeat customers (i.e., relational services) – especially those in which service employees and customers also have social relationships – perhaps even friendships outside of the service relationship

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

The idea of multiple relationship roles – the fact that I have moved frequently in the past ten years coupled with my interest in sports (curling, softball) led to this idea.  For each new city, I would find service providers amongst my social ties (e.g., I found my lawyer at the curling club – he was also a member).  This led to the question of – what happens when the interpersonal relationship sours? How does this affect the relationship between the customer and the firm.

Were There Findings That Were Surprising To You?

Yes – Even relatively minor transgressions damaged relationships. This damage is not easily repaired through traditional service recovery efforts.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

I think there is more work to be done on the effects of service transgressions beyond customer complaining behaviours (e.g., exit and voice) -we conceptualized damage as a loss in commitment – I think there is a corresponding loss in trust/firm credibility that can be explored as well. The notion of customer forgiveness (we provided some evidence of it here) is a new area of research.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

Our previous work has been on the construct of commitment in service relationships and highlighted the importance of relationship roles in service exchanges.  This research extends this line of inquiry.

How did your paper change during the review process?

Our initial submission was only about damage and we were encouraged to also explore the idea of repair.

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