Profiling (un-)committed online complainants: Their characteristics and post-webcare reactions

Wolfgang J. Weitzl, Sabine A. Einwiller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


After service failures, consumers increasingly turn to brand-created social media outlets to voice an online complaint and achieve their complaint goal. This research demonstrates that companies can benefit from segmenting online complainants according to their prior brand commitment and post-failure revenge desire to improve online complaint handling (webcare) effectiveness. Cluster analysis applied on multi-national survey data reveals that marketers have to deal with three main complainant types: (i) ‘Revengeful loyalists’ (committed, revengeful customers mainly driven by webcare-independent motives and immune to all forms of recovery attempts); (ii) ‘Constructive loyalists’ (committed, cooperative customers with a deep interest to restore the customer-brand relationship, but high recovery expectations); and (iii) ‘Constructive unattached customers’ (webcare-receptive customers having weak relational bonds, but no interest to cause harm). Besides profiling these segments, this research shows that webcare responses help to mitigate post-webcare negative word-of-mouth when they match the needs of complainants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-753
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Customer commitment
  • Negative word-of-mouth
  • Online complaining
  • Revenge
  • Service failure
  • Service recovery


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