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Complaint management and the role of the chief executive


  • Melissa Cunliffe
  • Robert Johnston



The aim of this paper is to encourage a new stream of research into complaints and the role of the chief executive officer (CEO). The objectives of this paper were firstly to assess the intensity of dissatisfaction driving customers to complain directly to the CEO and secondly to ascertain if the reasons for complaining to the CEO were different to those of complainants using ‘normal’ channels. A leading financial services company in the UK provided access to its complaint letters and its CEO. Based on analysis of a sample of 100 letters sent to the CEO and 100 standard complaint letters, it was found that customers complaining directly to the CEO have a significantly greater intensity of dissatisfaction. However, unexpectedly, despite the greater positional power of the CEO, the reasons for complaining to the CEO were little different to the reasons for using the ‘normal’ channels. Interestingly most of the complainants to the CEO had multiple reasons for complaint suggesting that complaints to the CEO are motivated by multiple underlying service failures. Copyright Springer-Verlag 2008

Suggested Citation

  • Melissa Cunliffe & Robert Johnston, 2008. "Complaint management and the role of the chief executive," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 2(1), pages 47-63, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:svcbiz:v:2:y:2008:i:1:p:47-63
    DOI: 10.1007/s11628-006-0020-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maute, Manfred F. & Forrester, William Jr., 1993. "The structure and determinants of consumer complaint intentions and behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 219-247, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jesús Cambra-Fierro & Iguácel Melero-Polo & Javier Sese, 2015. "Does the nature of the relationship really matter? An analysis of the roles of loyalty and involvement in service recovery processes," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 9(2), pages 297-320, June.
    2. Sang-Man Kim & Jae-Young Oh, 2012. "Employee emotional response toward healthcare organization’s service recovery efforts and its influences on service recovery performance," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 6(3), pages 297-321, September.
    3. repec:spr:svcbiz:v:11:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11628-016-0311-8 is not listed on IDEAS


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