Recommended Reading / Theory

The Role of Relationship Norms in Responses to Service Failures

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The Role of Relationship Norms in Responses to Service Failures
Lisa C. Wan, Michael K. Hui, and Robert S. Wyer Jr.

Journal of Consumer Research
Vol. 38, No. 2 (August 2011), pp. 260-277
Published by The University of Chicago Press

A friendly relationship with a service provider can sometimes decrease the negative feelings that consumers experience as the result of a service failure. However, friendship is not always beneficial. When consumers focus their attention on the provider’s obligation to respond to their needs, they react more negatively to a service failure when they are friends of the provider than when they have only a business relationship with him or her. When their attention is drawn to their own obligation in the relationship, however, the reverse is true. This difference is confirmed in four experiments in which the perspective from which participants imagined a service failure was activated either by unrelated experiences before being exposed to the failure or by features of the service encounter itself.

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