Double jeopardy: Effects of inter-failures and webcare on (un-)committed online complainants' revenge

Clemens Hutzinger, Wolfgang Jonas Weitzl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this research is the exploration of online complainants' revenge based on their consumer-brand relationship strength and received webcare. The authors introduce inter-failures (i.e. the perceived number of earlier independent service failures that a customer has experienced with the same brand involved in the current service failure) as the central frame condition. Design/methodology/approach: To test our hypotheses, both a scenario-based online experiment (n = 316) and an online survey (n = 492) were conducted. Findings: With an increasing number of inter-failures, online complainants with a high-relationship strength move from the “love is blind” effect (no inter-failures) to the “love becomes hate” effect (multiple inter-failures), when they ultimately become more revengeful than their low-relationship strength counterparts. In addition, the authors show that in the case of no or few inter-failures, accommodative webcare has a lasting positive effect over no/defensive webcare for both low- and high-relationship complainants. More importantly, however, when consumers have experienced multiple inter-failures, accommodative webcare becomes ineffective (for low-relationship complainants) or boomerangs by cultivating revenge towards the brand (among high-relationship complainants), but not strategic avoidance. Research limitations/implications: The findings have pronounced implications for the literature on customer–brand relationships following service failures and the literature, which predominantly emphasizes the unconditionally positive effects of accommodative webcare. Originality/value: This study is the first that simultaneously considers the prior customer–brand relationship, inter-failures and webcare to explain online complainants' revenge.

Original languageEnglish (American)
Pages (from-to)19-45
Number of pages27
JournalInternet Research
Volume33
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Complaint handling
  • Inter-failures
  • Online complaining
  • Relationship strength
  • Revenge
  • Service failure
  • Service recovery

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