AMA Servsig international service research conference location:Porto, Portugal date:17-19 June 2010
Past research on attributions following service failures has been investigating (i) the impact of controllability (to what extent the failure could have been prevented by the organization?) and stability (how likely is it that the same failure will recur in the future?) attributions on customers’ satisfaction and loyalty or (ii) how attributions shape expectations concerning service recovery. Unlike previous research, we focus on two different service recovery activities – i.e., customer recovery (which are efforts undertaken by an organization to restore the customers’ satisfaction such as providing an apology, compensation,…) and process recovery communication (which is the notification to a complainer that the organization has improved its processes in such a way that the same failure cannot reoccur in future service encounters) – and explore how both activities influence controllability and stability attributions. We thereby address calls for research by Wirtz and Mattila (2004) and Grewal et al (2008). We executed a 2 (unsatisfactory - satisfactory customer recovery x2 (no process recovery communication – process recovery communication) between-subjects experiments in two different settings (Telecom operator & Food retailer). Our results reveal that a satisfactory customer recovery decreases controllability attributions, whereas stability attributions did not significantly decrease. On the contrary, a process recovery communication significantly decreased stability attributions, where no effect was found on controllability attributions. Our results clearly indicate that organizations could benefit from both customer recovery and process recovery communications in order to optimize controllability and stability attributions.