Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

The Role of Emotions and Trust in Service Recovery in Business-to-Consumer Electronic Commerce

Academic journal article Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research

The Role of Emotions and Trust in Service Recovery in Business-to-Consumer Electronic Commerce

Article excerpt

1 Introduction

Despite the big efforts companies make to provide high quality services, providing an error-free service is impossible. Errors may frequently cause customer dissatisfaction, which in turn may lead to complaints. The actions which a service provider takes in response to service failures and the process by which the company attempts to rectify the failure, known as service recovery (SR) [34], are therefore a critical aspect of the interaction between customer and company. Service recovery offers a chance to reduce dissatisfaction and re-build the damaged relationship with the complaining customer, thus making it possible to achieve a positive outcome from a mistake [26].

Business-to-consumer electronic commerce (B2C-EC) refers to the use of the global Internet for purchase of goods and services sold by companies to end consumers, including service and support after the sale [66]. In 2010 business-to-consumer e-commerce (B2C-EC) sales in Spain reached euro9,114 billion, with an average expenditure per customer of euro831 [67]. Of the individuals who made online purchases-digital and physical goods and services- in 2009 and 2010, 6.8% of purchasers reported problems with their online purchases; customers also made more complaints: almost four out of five users (78.3%) who experienced a problem with their online purchases chose to lodge a complaint, mainly through the selling company's customer care service, a 14% rise on the previous year. The trend is that consumers are reporting more problems every year, and more of these consumers are also issuing complaints after they experience a problem with their online purchase.

Service recovery processes are therefore more and more important for B2C-EC companies, as each service recovery may be the only opportunity for the company to react to a service failure. Service recovery is not an isolated action: management of complaint behavior has also socio-cognitive and emotional long-term implications which may affect positively or negatively trust in the firm, its reputation and customer satisfaction. In an environment as competitive as B2C-EC understanding how to make an adequate response to customers' emotions in complaint scenarios and how to obtain sustained advantage from positive service recovery-in terms of customer retention and satisfaction- becomes a critical issue for e-tailers.

This study explores in greater depth factors which have an impact on service recovery, including classic constructs in service recovery theory such as satisfaction with service recovery (SSR), as well as the changes in behavior and attitudes which follow: cumulative satisfaction, word-of-mouth and loyalty. Most of the extant literature on service recovery is grounded on justice theory, with SSR as a result of perceived justice e.g. [63], but this approach only appraises the cognitive antecedents of SSR. However, the actions that companies carry out in a SR also have an emotional effect in complaining customers, and research on the influence of such affective responses in SSR is scant. This investigation adds to the existing literature in SR by studying the effect of both positive and negative emotions on satisfaction with service recovery, trust and loyalty building in SR processes. Additionally, this study introduces an element with considerable relevance in service failure situations-trust- and investigates its role as a mediator of the relationship between emotions and loyalty, and-simultaneously- between SSR and cumulative satisfaction.

The remainder of this paper has the following structure: the next section presents the research framework used to analyze the contribution of these factors, this is followed by an explanation of the methodology used in the empirical work, then discussion of the main findings; the main conclusions of this research are presented in the final section.

2 Development of Hypotheses

Río-Lanza, Vázquez-Casielles and Díaz-Martín [55] made a significant contribution to the field of service recovery with their analysis of the indirect effects of negative emotions in SSR; but [18] warned that omission of positive emotions from the study of service recovery processes might be problematic as a service provider with good service recovery may generate positive emotions e. …

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