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Inviting customer complaints can kill business

Date:
November 29, 2012
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Giving customers a chance to complain can be a bad idea if customers believe they're to blame for a product's failure, a new study shows.

Giving customers a chance to complain can be a bad idea if customers believe they're to blame for a product's failure, a new study from the Sauder School of Business at UBC shows.

"It's commonly assumed that giving customers a chance to voice grievances allows companies to maintain relationships," says Marketing Professor Darren Dahl, who co-authored the recent Journal of Marketing study with PhD student Lea Dunn.

"But our research shows that when a person feels implicated in a product's failure -- think building Ikea furniture -- they're more likely to shift blame to the product when complaining and increase ill will toward it."

In an experiment, subjects were divided into two groups and directed to replicate the preparation of an "award-winning smoothie." All of the participants were set-up to fail with poor quality food processors.

Half the group was made to feel the smoothie failure was their fault and the other half was told that it was likely a machine malfunction.

Participants primed to believe the failure was their fault rated the machine lower on a nine-point scale after complaining -- 3.29 -- versus the same participants who were not given the chance to complain -- 4.31.

Participants primed to blame the processor rated the device higher after given the chance to complain -- 4.02 versus 3 out of nine.

A further experiment showed that when self-blamers were provided with affirmative statements about their competence, they became more likely to rate a product favourably after complaining -- 5.22 versus 3.36 on a nine-point scale.

"With companies turning to social media to communicate with consumers, the power of customer complaints has been amplified," says Professor Dahl. "Our study shows that companies shouldn't just let people sound off. They need to be stroking egos, as well."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "Inviting customer complaints can kill business." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121129111837.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2012, November 29). Inviting customer complaints can kill business. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121129111837.htm
University of British Columbia. "Inviting customer complaints can kill business." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121129111837.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

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