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

Abstract

This study proposes a service recovery model to describe how cumulative satisfaction, loyalty and word-of-mouth are affected by complaints. The model is based on the role of positive and negative emotions in satisfaction with service recovery processes, with trust acting as a mediator of the relationship between satisfaction with service recovery and cumulative satisfaction, and between positive and negative emotions, satisfaction with service recovery and loyalty. The sample for this study consists of 303 business-to-consumer e-commerce users who made a complaint after an electronic transaction. The results show that positive emotions are a key factor in satisfaction with service recovery processes; this is in contrast to the major role that negative emotions have traditionally played in these models. Furthermore, trust mediates the relationship between satisfaction with service recovery and cumulative satisfaction, and between positive emotions and loyalty. Trust has an important influence on loyalty, and cumulative satisfaction is a strong predictor of word-of-mouth. While prior satisfaction with service recovery studies usually investigated only negative emotions and satisfaction with a specific transaction, this research considers both positive and negative emotions, as well as the mediating effect of trust on the relationship between satisfaction with a specific transaction and cumulative satisfaction.

Keywords: Service recovery, E-commerce, Business-to-consumer, Emotions, Trust, Satisfaction

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. …

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