This purpose of this study was to investigate the negative impact of service failures on customer loyalty. More specifically, we examined the moderating role of affective commitment on post-failure attitudes and loyalty intentions under two service failure conditions: a successful and poor service recovery. Our findings indicate that emotionally-bonded customers might feel “betrayed” when a service failure occurs, thus resulting in sharp decrease in post-recovery attitudes. Conversely, this negativity effect was limited to poor service recovery among consumers with low affective commitment. Customers with lower levels of emotional bonding with the service provider were more “forgiving” when the service recovery was effectively handled. Poor service recovery led to more ambivalent post-failure attitudes irrespective of the degree of affective commitment between the customer and the service provider. Finally, the results suggest that affective commitment might reduce the spill-over effects of service failures to future loyalty behaviors. The implications for retention management strategies are briefly discussed.
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