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Timing of apology after service failure: the moderating role of future interaction expectation on customer satisfaction

Author

Listed:
  • Kyeong Sam Min

    () (University of New Orleans)

  • Jae Min Jung

    () (California State Polytechnic University-Pomona)

  • Kisang Ryu

    () (Sejong University)

  • Curtis Haugtvedt

    () (The Ohio State University)

  • Sathiadev Mahesh

    () (University of New Orleans)

  • John Overton

    () (University of New Orleans)

Abstract

When there is a service failure, it is often believed that employees should immediately apologize to customers before hearing their complaints. However, we argue that in certain situations, an employee can recover from a service failure more effectively if the employee apologizes after hearing customer complaints. A simple change in the sequential order of apologizing and listening to complaints can significantly impact customer satisfaction. We propose that customer satisfaction increases if an employee’s apology timing is matched with customers’ expectation to interact with the employee in the future. Across two studies, we consistently report that a responsive apology (i.e., listen-and-then-apologize) outperforms a preemptive apology (i.e., apologize-and-then-listen) when customers’ interaction expectation is high. In contrast, the effectiveness of the responsive apology is weaker and even reversed when their interaction expectation is low. We also examine a boundary condition and a potential process likely responsible for this apology time sequence effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Kyeong Sam Min & Jae Min Jung & Kisang Ryu & Curtis Haugtvedt & Sathiadev Mahesh & John Overton, 2020. "Timing of apology after service failure: the moderating role of future interaction expectation on customer satisfaction," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 217-230, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:mktlet:v:31:y:2020:i:2:d:10.1007_s11002-020-09522-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s11002-020-09522-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Holger Roschk & Susanne Kaiser, 2013. "The nature of an apology: An experimental study on how to apologize after a service failure," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 293-309, September.
    2. Xinshu Zhao & John G. Lynch & Qimei Chen, 2010. "Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and Truths about Mediation Analysis," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(2), pages 197-206, August.
    3. Moon, Youngme, 2000. "Intimate Exchanges: Using Computers to Elicit Self-Disclosure from Consumers," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 323-339, March.
    4. Basil Halperin & Benjamin Ho & John List & Ian Muir, 2018. "Toward an understanding of the economics of apologies: evidence from a large-scale natural field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00644, The Field Experiments Website.
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