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Publication Date

2020

Abstract

Customer complaints can shed light on organizations’ key performance practices, providing useful information for organizations to learn from their mistakes Since customer complaints should be regarded as a learning opportunity, it is important to identify what drives customer complaints. Through experimental designs using a failed service in the restaurant, we investigated whether all angry customers complain to the service provider and if not, what prevents them from raising their voice. Results showed that customers who felt powerful complained about a service failure as soon as they were angry; on the other hand, customers who felt powerless were not comfortable making face-to-face complaints in the restaurant although they were very upset. Hospitality practitioners who wish to learn from customer complaints must find ways to encourage customers to speak up when service failures occur. One simple way to enhance customer sense of power in the restaurant setting is to manipulate the menu. Our experiment showed that a subtle phrase embedded in a menu can affect customers’ sense of power. Our findings suggested that participants in the low-power condition indeed complained less in public, reducing opportunities for the service providers to hear from customers. Hospitality companies should understand the effect of power on customer behavior to increase customer feedback.

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