011 – How the response to service incidents change customer–firm relationships

Pedro Simões Coelho, Paulo Rita & Ricardo F. Ramos
European Journal of Management and Business Economics
Abstract

Purpose – This paper analyzes previously unmeasured effects of a response to a service incident called
“benevolent” within the customer –firm relationship.
Design/methodology/approach – A questionnaire was administered to telecommunication customers in a Western European country, and the model was estimated using partial least squares (PLS).
Findings – This study shows that the customer–firm relationship is surprisingly affected by the response to expected incidents that the customer interprets as acts of benevolence or opportunism. This research also shows that the firm’s incident response interpreted as benevolence or opportunism has an effect that merely positive or negative events do not. Acts of benevolence response towards an incident positively affect customer–firm relationship quality, and expectations of such acts may lead to an upward spiral in customer commitment.
Originality/value – While benevolence trust has been proposed and studied before, the response to incidents interpreted as benevolent or opportunistic and their consequences have been under-studied, hence exhibiting a research gap.
Keywords – Customer relationships, Service incidents, Expectancy and disconfirmation, Benevolence,
Opportunism
Paper type – Research paper

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