Tailoring service recovery messages to consumers’ affective states

Krista Hill Cummings*, Jennifer A. Yule

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Purpose: This study aims to propose that providers should tailor recovery responses to consumers’ emotional states to improve evaluations and behavioral intentions. Design/methodology/approach: A multi-study approach comprising field and lab data was used. The field study, conducted on the Boston public transport network during a weather crisis, sought to determine how a provider should deliver their recovery response to match the consumer’s affective state. In the lab studies, the importance of tailoring a recovery message to the consumer’s state is experimentally demonstrated while controlling for factors such as consumer brand involvement. Findings: This study finds that an emotion-focused recovery emphasizing empathy should be given to those in an avoidance affective state (i.e. focused on the avoidance of negative outcomes) such as worry. A problem-focused recovery, in which the focus is on the process that led to the failure and the steps that will be taken to correct it, should be provided to those in an approach state (i.e. concerned with advancement and accomplishment) such as anger. This study also finds this effect is more salient under low involvement conditions. Research limitations/implications: Future research should examine how nonverbal behavior during recovery can be tailored to a consumer’s state. Practical implications: Service providers are encouraged to tailor recovery messages to consumers’ affective states. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is the first to examine matching recovery messages to affective states, an important contribution as service failures can elicit a wide variety of affective states that influence how consumers react to recovery messages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1675-1702
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • affect
  • service recovery
  • services marketing


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