Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Customer Dissemination of Negative Word-of-Mouth: Influence of Expected or Unexpected Events

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Customer Dissemination of Negative Word-of-Mouth: Influence of Expected or Unexpected Events

Article excerpt

In today's competitive environment, delivering high-quality service is vital to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Many researchers have indicated that customers' satisfaction leads to their sharing experiences with others (van Haaften, 2011; Zairi, 2000; Zeqiri, 2011). However, compared with satisfied customers, dissatisfied customers are more likely to share their experience with a greater number of people who have had related experiences using the product or service (Angelova & Zekiri, 2011). Customer service, therefore, is a key factor for enhancing service quality, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, business competitiveness in the rapidly expanding service industry. Customers magnify instances of service failure. Service quality that results in customer dissatisfaction results in negative impressions and word-of-mouth, which subsequently affect corporate image. The Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association (2009) defined word-of-mouth (WOM) as "the passing of information from person to person by oral communication." In contrast to tangible products, services are characterized by intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity, and perishability (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1988), and service personnel play a crucial role in providing service to customers. Service failure may occur at any time during service provision and all service processes are at risk of service failure.

Fram (1997) asserted that, from a sales perspective, customer punishment refers to the scenario in which customers are requested to pay unexpected costs and, further, stated that customer punishment is a common phenomenon in airlines, rail service providers, banks, child daycare providers, credit and debit card providers, cruise and tour operators, hotels, restaurants, retail stores, car dealers, car rental firms, cellular phone providers, and universities, as the 13 primary industries of the service sector. In numerous studies, researchers have verified the effectiveness of customer punishment as well as its negative effects, such as customer complaints (Blodgett, Wakefied, & Barnes, 1995; Nyer, 2000) and negative WOM (Alicke et al., 1992; Anderson, 1983; Singh, 1988). Although customer complaints and negative WOM can provide useful information for businesses, they also reduce the probability of potential clients making a purchase (East, Hammond, & Lomax, 2008) and may even be destructive to client trust in the business (Lau & Ng, 2001). Because of the trend of increasing customer awareness, understanding and effectively addressing customers' reactions to service failure are critical objectives that managers of firms must consider to improve management.

Hedrick, Beverland, and Minahan (2007) asserted that, because the relationships among customers and service providers differ, when a service failure occurs, the solutions offered by service providers affect customer attitudes and purchase behavior. Customers often subject restaurant staff to accusations of poor service, and these are primarily attributable to expected and unexpected costs. Thus, the relationship between customers and restaurants is a major variable to be considered in determining the influence of service failure. Previous researchers have discussed fair solutions, focusing on compensating for service failures, but few have examined the correlation between service failure and the relationship between customers and restaurants. In the present study, we adopted a customer punishment perspective to explore the influence that expected and unexpected costs exert on customers in restaurants. We examined three aspect of customerservice failure, namely: (a) the influence of expected punishment on restaurant customers' dissemination of complaints and negative WOM, (b) the motive for expected punishment, and (c) the influence of level and type of customer punishment on the dissemination of complaints and negative WOM.

Literature Review

Word-of-Mouth and Expected Punishment

Fram (1997) examined whether or not widely implemented punitive expenses can be regarded as a valuable marketing tool. …

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