Betrayal? Relationship quality implications in service recovery
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine whether high quality relationships buffer or magnify the negative impact of a failed service recovery on subsequent consumer attitudes and behaviors. Design/methodology/approach - A total of 264 online shoppers were surveyed using a structured questionnaire. Respondents were asked to imagine themselves in a hypothetical failed service recovery scenario involving a multi-channel retailer with whom they shop. Findings - Results from a MANCOVA analysis and SEM modeling indicate that, following a failed service recovery incident, high quality relationships present a challenge for the service provider. In accordance with the hypotheses, consumers with a high level of relationship quality will decrease their repurchase intentions to a greater extent; more strongly and negatively adjust their overall relationship quality; and react to the service recovery effort less favorably than those with lower levels of relationship quality. Research limitations/implications - The findings suggest that high quality relationships may "raise the bar" of service recovery management, rather than "buffering" firms from service failure. Practical implications - Service providers should consider the potential implications of customer relationship quality in their service recovery management efforts. Originality/value - The study provides empirical evidence of the "double-edge" issue of relationship quality in service recovery management, illustrating the need to incorporate this variable in future service failure/recovery research.