Unhappy Customers? Here’s How To Deal

Zach Klein (cc)

With the advent of social media, dissatisfied customers can easily vent their frustrations in a very public way. But a study published in the latest Journal of Service Research issue, and highlighted this week on BusinessNewsDaily, shows that companies can turn social media to their advantage in such situations. From BusinessNewsDaily:

“When customers can vent their frustrations directly to employees of the firm, the channel of communication between the service provider and consumer becomes much stronger, allowing for a more open conversation where both parties can create and mutually agree upon possible solutions,” said Yuliya Strizhakova of Rutgers University, who conducted the research with fellow Rutgers professor Julie A. Ruth and Yelena Tsarenko, of Australia’s Monash University. “This direct relationship also allows service personnel to provide the empathy and emotional support that customers are looking for.”

Read the article, “‘I’m Mad and I Can’t Get That Service Failure Off My Mind’: Coping and Rumination as Mediators of Anger Effects on Customer Intentions,” in the November issue of the Journal of Service Research. The abstract:

Although anger elicited in service failures harms providers, little is known about the ways customers deal with anger. Building upon stress-and-coping theory, we propose a theoretical framework that examines customer coping strategies—expressive, active, and denial—and rumination about the incident as mediators of anger on customer intentions. Across two studies and in more and less conventional service channels, rumination decreases positive behavioral intentions and increases negative word-of-mouth intentions. Customer coping strategies mediate effects of anger on rumination. Specifically, while expressive coping mediates effects of anger on rumination, active coping mediates these effects in more conventional service channels, whereas denial mediates these effects in less conventional channels. Customer tendency to ruminate moderates effects in less conventional channels. Because customers have and use a repertoire of coping strategies that differentially affect rumination and customer intentions, strategies designed to guide customers toward active coping and mitigate rumination should be the cornerstone of service recovery. If and when service failures occur, managers should encourage customers’ active coping to resolve the problem; otherwise, customers may cope by expressing their negative emotions to others or deny the episode, both of which increase customer rumination and detrimental outcomes for the firm.

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