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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences

On-line version ISSN 2222-3436
Print version ISSN 1015-8812


BOSHOFF, Christo. The influence of 'buffering' variables on clients' willingness to engage in retribution behaviour after a service failure. S. Afr. j. econ. manag. sci. [online]. 2014, vol.17, n.3, pp.297-309. ISSN 2222-3436.

Much of the current service failure and recovery literature centres on reactive, post hoc measures that managers can take to address service failure. More importantly, much of the reported research has focused on managerial mechanisms under the direct control of service managers. This study shows that by viewing their responsibilities more broadly than only their narrow service-related goals, service managers can do much to prevent disgruntled clients from switching to competing service providers. A thousand clients of a commercial bank who complained about a service failure completed an online questionnaire. Following a thorough assessment of the construct validity of the measurement model, the mediating role of brand superiority and corporate reputation was assessed by means of structural equation modeling. The results reveal that both brand superiority and reputation mediate the relationship between negative word-of-mouth and intentions to switch to a competing service provider, following a service failure. The results show that by enhancing the firm's brand superiority and corporate reputation, service firms can build a 'buffer' that can deter clients who have suffered a service failure from switching to a competing service provider. In other words, service managers should broaden their organisational involvement by participating in activities such as strategic planning, corporate reputation management, and the planning of brand strategies and positioning strategies, as these variables can prevent complaining clients from ending their relationship with the offending service provider. The results, by implication, caution service managers against a myopic view of their role in the service organisation.

Keywords : buffering variables; service failure; service recovery; negative word-of mouth; brand superiority; corporate reputation.

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