Webcare's effect on constructive and vindictive complainants

Weitzl, Wolfgang (2019) Webcare's effect on constructive and vindictive complainants. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 28 (3). pp. 330-347. ISSN 1061-0421

Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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Purpose: This paper aims to demonstrate that online complainants' reactions to a company's service recovery attempts (webcare) can significantly vary across two different types of dissatisfied customers ("vindictives" vs "constructives"), who have dramatically diverging complaint Goal orientations. Design/methodology/Approach: Online multi-country survey among 812 adult consumers who recently had a dissatisfying brand experience and turned to a marketer-generated social media site to voice an online complaint for achieving their ultimate complaining goals. Scenario-based online experiment for cross-validating the survey findings. Findings: Results suggest that "vindictive complainants" - driven dominantly by brand-adverse motives - are immune to any form of webcare, while "constructive complainants" - interested in restoring the customer-brand relationship - react more sensitively. For the latter, "no-responses" often trigger detrimental brand-related reactions (e.g. unfavorable brand image), whereas "defensive Responses" are likely to stimulate postwebcare negative word-of-mouth. Research limitations/implications: This research identifies the gains and harms of (un-)desired webcare. By doing so, it not only sheds light on the circumstances when marketers have to fear negative effects (e.g. negative word-of-mouth) but also provides insights into the conditions when such effects are unlikely. While the findings of the cross-sectional survey are validated with an online experiment, findings should be interpreted with care as other complaining contexts should be further investigated. Practical implications: Marketers have to expect a serious "backfiring effect" from an unexpected source, namely, consumers who were initially benevolent toward the involved brand but who received an inappropriate response.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Service failure, Service recovery, Webcare, Online complaints, Negative word-of-mouth
Divisions: Departments > Marketing
Departments > Marketing > Handel & Marketing
Version of the Document: Published
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2019 10:31
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2019 00:23
Related URLs:
FIDES Link: https://bach.wu.ac.at/d/research/results/90468/
URI: https://epub.wu.ac.at/id/eprint/6873


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