Customers’ emotions in service failure and recovery: a meta-analysis

Valentini, Sara; Orsingher, Chiara; Polyakova, Alexandra

Customers’ emotions have emerged as a dominant dimension in the complaint-handling domain. This research provides a quantitative synthesis of the role of emotions triggered by service failure and recovery situations. First, we develop a unifying conceptual framework that considers emotional reactions triggered by both service failure and recovery and explains why customers are likely to get “emotional twice.” Second, we show that studies conceptualize emotions using different underlying theoretical assumptions (discrete versus dimensional models). Our results show that this distinction significantly affects the strength of the relationship between emotions and their correlates. Third, our meta-analysis highlights what recovery actions managers should consider when they need to address customers’ negative emotions or want to enhance positive emotions. Monetary compensations are the only tool that can attenuate the strength of negative emotions. Clear communication of the waiting time and procedures required to complete the recovery process can strengthen positive emotions.